PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe Review

By Darryl Kaye on September 25, 2009

PixelJunk Monsters returns again, this time in the Deluxe form exclusively on the Sony PSP. It had previously been seen on the PlayStation 3, via the PlayStation Network where it also saw the Encore edition. However, Q-Games decided it was time to let people enjoy their unique tower defence game on the go, so PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe was created to fulfil this need.

Players take control of Tikiman, and he is trying to protect a collection of 20 babies from being killed by evil monsters, which range from various types of bugs, to huge rock goliaths. To do so, he has a good selection of towers to choose from, but there is one major catch about their usage - they can only be placed in pre-determined slots which are assigned by trees on the map. This makes placement extremely important, as enemies have set patterns that aren't necessarily straight lines. It's also important to note that upon selling towers, that slot then becomes inactive, so there is a big emphasis on placing the right tower in the right place from the start. This can be a bit frustrating, and in order to obtain rainbows on levels, which are required to progress further into the game, don't be surprised to be doing levels a few times to nail down an efficient strategy.

Another defining feature is that the Tikiman is actually a full element on the screen, which means that players also need to take into consideration how long it will take the Tikiman to walk to certain places. This means that alongside placing towers, he also has to pick-up the resources that are dropped from the various monsters as they are killed, a peril in itself, as Tikiman can be hurt by monsters if he makes contact with them. It definitely makes the game more challenging, and makes sure the player has multiple choices to make at any given time. Do they place a tower, go and collect some vital resources, or upgrade an existing tower. The wrong decision can be costly.

The upgrading system is handled by combination of gems, experience and the Tikiman. The quick way to upgrade is by using gems, but this prevents the player from unlocking stronger towers, which can only be obtained by spending a large amount of gems at one time at the player's base. Towers also gain experience upon killing enemies, but it's also possible for towers to acquire experience if the Tikiman is standing on top of them. All of these elements, as well as the balanced towers themselves, make PixelJunk an extremely refined edition of tower defence and one that's definitely challenging.

As expected, the PSP version of Monsters doesn't look as crisp as the PlayStation 3 version, but it's being displayed at a lower resolution. It still looks great though, and the art style is faithfully re-created on the portable device. The music can get a bit tedious after a while though, as it's fairly simplistic and there isn't a whole lot of variety to be found. Fortunately things are kept interesting by the sound effects that are present.

To make the re-release worthwhile, Q-Games have added a load of new content to the game. Alongside the existing levels, which are more than plentiful, an extra map has been added which features a host of new levels to challenge players. There is also the addition of a local co-operative mode, which is played ad-hoc, and an online multiplayer mode which can be enjoyed by up to 8 players. It's all integrated seemlessly into the game and even has chat facilities, as well as friend lists. These additions make sure that PixelJunk Monsters is more than worthy of a re-release on the PSP and with other features such as challenges, there is more than enough to keep people playing the game for a long time.

Final Thoughts

PixelJunk Monsters makes a fine transition to the PlayStation Portable with PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe. There are a few niggling issues that may not be to the tastes of some tower defence players, but these are nothing new and it's still an extremely refined mechanic that will definitely test players. There is also a wealth of new content for players to enjoy, which will make it worthy of a purchase for those who already own either of the two previous versions.

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