PixelJunk Monsters was a big success on the PlayStation 3, bringing a unique twist to the tower defense genre, along with the inimitable PixelJunk style. However, as much fun as it still is to sit down and play on the couch, Monsters is a game that definitely lends itself well to handheld play. With PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe, developer Q-Games has not only faithfully transferred the game to PSP, but has also added a plethora of new content. With a brand new island, unlockable challenges and online multiplayer, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe has enough depth and visual charm to keep you firmly glued to your PSP, despite some frustrating issues with its difficulty.
PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe contains a whole new island to explore.
The concept of PixelJunk Monsters is similar to other tower defense games. You must protect your base of 20 vulnerable villagers from waves of monsters by building defensive towers around the map. The twist is that you must use your onscreen avatar Tikiman to convert the trees that are littered across the map into defensive towers. The addition of an onscreen avatar is significant because Tikiman is vulnerable to monsters rather than being an all-powerful deity. When he accidentally runs into an enemy, he'll lose gold coins--the currency used to build towers in the game. It's made all the more difficult by the fact that the only way to collect the coins is to pick them up from monsters that have been destroyed. This introduces some difficult decisions as you frantically run around trying to balance collecting coins with moving to other trees on the map to build towers.
There is a good selection of towers to choose from, and others can be unlocked within a level using gems, which are also dropped by fallen monsters. The gems can be used to upgrade existing towers, giving them faster reload times or increasing their weapon range. Using gems wisely is often the key to success because you must balance purchasing upgrades with building new towers. You can upgrade towers without using gems by standing next to them, causing Tikiman to dance a merry jig while the upgrade bar increases. However, this takes a significant amount of time, and in later levels, there are rarely enough free moments to make this plausible.
PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe includes islands from both PixelJunk Monsters and its Encore expansion, as well as a whole new island. Each island contains several maps to play on, and each map has its own twist. For instance, one level contains only a single bridge to gain access to your base, while another contains only four trees with which to build towers. It's difficult to complete a map on your first try, and though monsters move along a set path, it's only once you've familiarized yourself with that path and with the pattern of enemy waves that you'll know what towers to use and the best placement for them. There are different difficulty levels to select from: Casual and regular are available from the offset, and hardcore is unlocked after completing the game.
There often isn't enough time to have Tikiman dance his merry jig like this.