Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 01/24/08 | Genre: Strategy
After a lukewarm reception for the original game in the PixelJunk series--PixelJunk Racers, Sony has released the second title in the series called PixelJunk Monsters. Despite both titles including the PixelJunk name, the two games share relatively nothing in common in terms of gameplay. As the name suggests, PixelJunk Racers is a racing game--while PixelJunk Monsters is a spin on the very popular web browser game known as Desktop Tower Defense. After spending many hours with PixelJunk Monsters, I can honestly say I am pleasantly surprised by the end result.
Players can play in a single player mode or participate in a two player co-op mode. The only negative is that you will have to play on the same TV. However, due to the nature of the game, I would not want to try and talk strategy unless I was in the same room with someone else. Both single player and co-op modes play exactly the same with the same exact levels.
As players begin a level, they are given a series of trees and a home base to protect. A countdown timer at the bottom will begin counting down and it will show a monster that is headed your way. Your job is to build the correct type of defense to counter the monsters to protect your home base and the nest full of babies. Failure to build the right kind of defense will result in the loss of the babies you are protecting. The trick is that in order to fully unlock the game, players will neeed to beat a large number of levels without losing a single baby. This can be extremely frustrating and will require much trial and error to see what works.
As you defeat enemies, they will leave behind money and the occasional gem. Players will also find random coins and gems hidden in trees randomly placed in the level. A bonus amount of money is given after the completion of each wave of monster attacks have concluded. Players can then utilize the money to build up more defenses, upgrade the defenses with the gems, or save up the gems to buy different types of defenses. In addition to this, if players stand on top of one of their defensive structures, they will begin to dance. Dancing slowly builds up an upgrade bar and is a strategic way to power-up a structure without sacrificing any precious gems.
Any coins or gems left behind by a monster or from a tree will need to be picked up in a certain amount of time. The items will begin to blink before they vanish for good. To assist the player in getting around the board faster, a special dash upgrade will be made available once they defeat the first Special stage. Other types of upgrades can be unlocked in later Special stages as well. Because some of these key power-ups are not made available until later on, it may take several times through a level before you can successfully beat it perfectly. Once this is done a rainbow icon will appear on the particular level on the stage select map.
I personally found that co-op play was the most fun. Working together as a team to play an addictive strategy game can easily eat up an entire afternoon and evening in one play session. PixelJunk Monsters should come with a warning label on it for how addicting it is. I have lost many hours of my life on this title and it only runs $7.99 on the PlayStation Network. This is by far one of the most enjoyable downloadable games I have ever played on a console. I highly recommend PixelJunk Monsters and suggest that all PS3 owners take a look at the game via the downloadable demo or just purchase it immediately.
For those of you with girlfriends, wives, or family members that aren't normally into games, PixelJunk Monsters also is a great game to play with someone else. Now if Sony would only give us an additional map pack or a full sequel...