|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Q Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
PixelJunk Monsters, in my opinion, is one of the best titles to hit the PlayStation Network. Its premise was simple tower defense. You play as a tiki guardian (or at least, that's what I've always assumed the on-screen character is) and your job is to protect a village of exactly 20 inhabitants against invading monsters. How is this accomplished? Through construction! The game starts you off with a small budget which allows you to build two or three structures, but as enemies die off, you'll gain access to more money to build more structures and gems that can be used to either upgrade existing structures or research new ones.
The basic structure of PixelJunk Monsters is simple, but through the three islands that were included in the original and the Encore! Expansion, it gave players plenty of towers to defend on multiple difficulty settings. But even though there was plenty to experience here, the folks at Q Games have upped the ante once again by offering PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe, the definitive version of PixelJunk Monsters on the PSP.
Although it is presented on a smaller screen, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe has plenty of new content, and while the principle content has been moved to the PSP, this can hardly be classified as just a port. To start things off, PixelJunk Monsters has a whole new island of challenges. Dubbed Gati Gati Island, this new setting has all new levels, complete with a new beach setting. The new levels are nicely balanced against the old ones, and the difficulty setting is on par with the older island maps.
In addition to the new maps, there are also plenty of other new features that make PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe the most complete-feeling game in the franchise thus far. One of my biggest complaints about the original and its expansion was the lack of online multiplayer. PixelJunk Monsters is not a game that is easy to play solo, and I found that the single-player experience was much more difficult than playing co-op. While the PS3's local co-op options certainly made for great times with friends close by, if you didn't know anyone that was strategically inclined, the clearing of levels on the hardcore difficulty was next to impossible.
Fortunately, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe has included a robust online mode that lets you meet up with friends all around the world and play cooperatively. You can join rooms in quickplay sessions, or you can filter rooms to display only those working on a certain island or difficulty level. You can also create your own room which gives you the freedom to complete the levels that you want with a friend. The online mode also supports voice chat, so you'll be able to converse with your online partners to discuss strategy.
The online functionality is probably the best new feature of Pixeljunk Monsters Deluxe, allowing you to experience all the old and new maps in a whole new way. However, if you prefer your PixelJunk Monsters experience offline, you can also play ad-hoc with a local buddy. This plethora of options makes the multiplayer very accessible, which is great for a title where having two players is basically a necessity if you want to go beat every level and go beyond the casual difficulty setting.
The final improvement that has been made for PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe is the addition of two new towers. These new towers include a trap tower, which acts like a giant electrical tripwire, and a gem tower, which automatically upgrades towers already constructed on the field with gem upgrades. Both of these towers need to be unlocked, so you'll have to play for quite awhile and stock up on those perfect completion rainbows before you will be able to use the new towers.