PixelJunk Monsters & Encore Review
Pixeljunk is a series of games created by the company Q-Games for the Playstation 3. Each game in the series is created with a different kind of game in mind. The first in the series, PixelJunk Racers, is obviously, a racing game, the second is PixelJunk Monsters, a Tower Defense game.
PixelJunk Monsters, as I said before is a Tower Defense game. This is an old gameplay genre that was used way back when. The player has to build towers using trees to stop attackers (Monsters) from getting to your base. Sounds simple right? Well, it’s not. It’s hard, almost frustratingly hard on some levels. The game sports twenty levels, ranging from difficulty of Easy, Medium and Hard. Easy is easy, Medium, pretty tough, Hard, well you get the point.
Outside of trees, the game uses coins and gems as resources. Coins are needed to create towers with trees. Gems are used to research new types of towers, increase interest or to upgrade towers. There are a variety of towers to use in your mission to defend your people at the base. These towers range from the basic, Arrow, Cannon and Anti-Air Gun, Ice types, to ones that need to be researched like the Laser, Hive, Mortar, Fire and Tesla towers. Each are more or less effective against certain kind of enemies. The enemies are belong to either ground or flying types, and different towers will only affect certain kind of enemies.
As stated before in order to go beyond the starter towers, gems are needed for research or to upgrade the exsisting towers. However upgrading can also take 2 other forms. Towers will naturally start to upgrade as they kill enemies (or in case of the Ice Tower, whenever it hits an enemy), but the player can also stand under one and “dance” which will start to upgrade the tower. Each tower has an upgrade bar that shows the player how close it is to upgrading, and when the bar is filled the tower upgrades. Towers have a few levels, depicted from the color of the flags they have. They start with Green, then Yellow, Red, Purple, and Black. Depending on the tower and the level, upgrading will change different aspects of the tower, whether it be the range, attack rate, damage, or spread.
The game also supports offline Co-Op and leaderboards for both Single and Co-Op experiences. You are ranked on how well you perform in a level, from the number of towers standing, the number of coins & gems, and number of remaining people at your base. If you finish a level without any monsters reaching your base, you are given a rainbow for “perfect”. These rainbows are needed to advance to later stages of the game and depending on the level, can be very troublesome. High Scores can be checked at any time at the map screen. Here you can check everyone’s score for the level, your specific score and your friends score.
Monsters upgraded to version 2.00 on October 30th 2008. This upgrade is widely known as the “Trophy Patch” since one of the big additions was trophies. The trophy patch added balancing of the towers, such as allowing the Ice tower to be used from the start, Tesla Tower range/gem cost being fixed as well as a few other fixes. Aside from this YouTube uploading & recording was added which allows players to record their games to up to 10 minutes of video. This feature works well, however the slow youtube uploading (Quicker than on Pcs though) makes it hard to record, upload, then record again. The patch also adds two new difficulties, casual & hardcore settings, however these new difficulty settings do not allow for leaderboards. The main purpose of the patch however is the addition of PSN Trophies. These trophies are added outside of the main game in a “Trophy Challenge” section. There are a total of 20 trophies, 14 available in Trophy Challenge. If you do the math, there are obviously 6 trophies unaccounted for, which are hidden until unlocked.
The Graphics and sound both are simple, but work extremely well. The game is vibrant, crisp and clear. The music works well for relaxation(which is a good thing because of the difficulty).
PixelJunk Monsters is a true gem for the Playstation 3’s PSN. Its cheap Coming in at $9.99 with an expansion at $6.99. The game is simple, but difficult to master. The easy levels allow for people to easily get into the game but attaining rainbows and defeating later levels will really give people a challenge.
The gameplay is exactly like the original game(it is just an expansion, not a sequel). Encore adds 15 more levels on a new island called Toki. The levels on Toki island are much harder than the levels on the original Tiki island. Even for veterans like myself who have beaten every level and gotten rainbows on most of them on Tiki Island the game is difficult. The easy levels are ok to pass but getting rainbows are almost impossible.
Same charming crisp colorful world that monsters introduced. New songs that bring the relaxing feel that the original soundtrack gave.
Being an expansion pack Encore by its very nature isn’t supposed to bring a whole new game to the table. What Encore does is bring more of the addictive gameplay to fans. The difficulty of the new island makes it hard to recommend to people who aren’t masters at the game already.