Name: PixelJunk Monsters
Genre: Tower Defense
Platforms: Playstation Network
The genre of Tower Defense has, for a while, remained exclusive to its PC roots. Its concept is pretty simple: build different types of towers to stop waves of enemies from reaching a particular spot. There are different versions of this idea, allowing for the player to create mazes or upgrade their towers to different versions, but the basics have remained the same. It was also a genre that never leapt from its home to consoles due to the gameplay practically requiring a mouse and keyboard and the genre never really evolving to being a “full game.” PixelJunk Monsters is not the evolution of the genre or a “full game.” Instead, it takes advantage of the fact that downloadable games do not have to be full experiences and can be released at budget prices.
PixelJunk Monsters brings a few new ideas to the Tower Defense genre. Players take the role of a builder who needs to protect his home from hordes of enemies. These invaders take many shapes and sizes, from the slow and weak ants to the fast and strong spiders (I freaking hate those spiders), the game offers a wide array of foes to test out any of the ten towers on.
Instead of the typical gameplay where gamers can build towers at any spot on the map and simply click to do so, PixelJunk has the builder needing to walk over to any tree on the map and replacing it with one of many unique towers. Tower placement becomes increasingly important as the game goes on, with some levels being filled with trees and others having only a few.
Another difference is that enemies drop gold and gems, both of which need to be picked up manually by the builder. This focus on an actual character is what makes the game unique and it works well for its platform. Towers are even upgraded by having your builder stand next to it and dance to, well, whatever gods upgrade towers for silly men in masks. The graphics are also insanely clean, very high definition pixel art. Fire effects blur the background and explosions look very cool. The developers found a nice style with the game and it creates a fun environment to play in.
There is also an option to play with two players on one system, which adds a huge amount of replay value to the game. It is done completely co-operatively, with each player getting their own money pool and being able to destroy or upgrade his or her teammates towers. Just as one player standing next to a tower and dancing for it slowly upgrades it, two players do it that much faster. This truly bumps the game’s value up, by making even frustrating levels that much more bearable by having someone there to complain with. There is also remote play with the PSP, if you are into that sort of thing.
The game has over a dozen different levels and each can be handled in numerous different ways. It definitely offers the greatest depth of any of the games on the Playstation Network and some of the deepest gameplay of any tower defense game ever released.
With a huge amount of customization when it comes to which towers to buy and where to put them, you could find yourself playing through it over and over again. The lack of online co-op is deplorable, but the game is solid and the guys over at PixelJunk obviously know what they are doing.