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PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe Review

July 6, 2010

Ever since the original PixelJunk Monsters was released I’ve been an intense love affair with the PixelJunk series.  Purchasing every game and their expansions and loving every minute of it, now PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe, a new version of monsters has been released onto the PSP.  So is this rerelease worth the cash for veterans and newbies alike?

In a word, Yes!!.

First to squash the fears of those who think this is a simple port of PixelJunk Monsters & it’s expansion, Encore, it’s not, it is much much more than that.  But before we get into that let’s get into what makes PixelJunk Monsters, PixelJunk Monsters.  The game is based on a Tikiman protecting his flock of 20 from incoming Monsters.  These monsters comes in waves of 10-20 (depending on difficulty of the level), with a boss monster arriving on the 20th wave (again the boss varies on difficulty and the stage).  In order to combat this threat, the Tikiman, using coins and gems creates towers out of trees to kill the monsters.  Coins are used to actually create a tower out of a tree, while gems are used for quick tower upgrades as well as tower researching.

Researching towers is a very important part of gameplay as the basic four towers, Anti-Air, Cannon, Arrow & Ice cannot combat all the different monsters.  This is due to the fact that different towers are either useful or completely useless on certain enemies.  For example Anti-Air towers are great on the basic sycamore air enemy, but is useless against any ground enemies and is only moderately useful against the Bumble Bees.  Researching the right towers at the right time can make or break a level.

Beyond just the different enemy types, there are also shields and the newly included Balloons to throw off your game.  The shields range from the red “magic” shield, making towers like the Fire & laser towers less effective, to the “ground” and “Ice” shields which limit the damage of physical damage towers and the ice tower respectfully.  Beyond the old shields of the first version, new “fire” shields and balloons are added.  The fire shields are not just a new version of the magic shield, instead the enemies are literally on fire, dramatically increasing their movement speed making them harder to kill (without the aid of the ice tower that is).  Not exactly a shield, balloons enemies are ground type enemies with 3 balloons attached to keep them safe from ground towers.  However the only tower to aid in the defense of these enemies are the arrow towers, anti-air or laser towers are ineffective.  To combat these new enemies a combination of arrow and ground towers are needed as once all three balloons are popped, the enemies fall to the ground and become normal.

Besides the new enemies there are also a new system of unlocking towers as well as new towers.  Defeating certain special stages will unlock a new tower to be researched, unlike the original where any tower can be researched in any level as long as the require gems are met.  Two new towers have also been added, the Trap & Gem towers creating new ways of beating the waves.  The trap tower (obviously) lays down traps for both air and ground enemies while the Gem Tower can be placed near other towers to steadily increase their level.  Now that I think about it, it would be a good time to to explain tower leveling/upgrading.  Towers have levels going from green, to yellow to red to purple and to black.  Depending on the tower each level can add either increase range, attack speed or power.  Towers naturally upgrade when killing enemies, but gems can also be used for instant leveling or by keeping the Tikiman under the tower and “dancing” giving it more experience.

Deluxe contains the original Tiki island, as well as the Encore island of Toki and the new Deluxe only Gati Gati Island.  Tiki island still has the most stages, with Toki coming in a close second.  Each island has it’s own art style of sorts and Gati Gati specifically has it’s own special monsters. It’ll take some time to complete every stage in every island, mainly due to the rainbow system.  The rainbow system is a system where rainbows are given to each level if no monsters reach your flock.  A certain number of rainbows are needed to unlock special stages and harder stages on each island.  Now each island has it’s own count of rainbows so you can’t unlock all the later stages in the game by playing one island.

Now to some additions and subtractions from the game.  First off since the PSP does not have a trophy system like it’s big (or little depending on how you see it) brother, there is no trophy support of the game, however the medal system returns with a whole new arrow of medals to earn, including a new Tiki Hut where unlockables such as themes, music and more can be found.  Leaderboards are also gone, replaced with scores, presumably based on Q games staff scores.  However in place of these subtractions co op comes back in a new way, not only does offline co op (requiring two nearby PSPs) return, but online co op has also been added (YES!!!).  The online co op works really well with minimal lagg and a decent amount of consistent users online.  The game will save and display the number of online games won, as well as the number of rainbows and medals earned in single player.  Unfortunately it does not keep track of the games you’ve won online, having all the levels available but not sprouting trees similar to single player and the Ps3 version of offline co op.

That said online play is a blast and can help you think up strategies for the single player levels.

PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe is a great game and a most own for strategy fans on the psp (or PS3).  When originally rereleased at $20, for those who already own the PS3 version of the game it wasn’t that good of a deal, but now that the price is a permanent $10, it’s well worth the price of admission, even for veterans like me.  Buy it, own it, play it, love it.


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