Review: Pixeljunk: Monsters Ultimate HD

[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”PixelJunk: Monsters Ultimate HD” developers=”Double Eleven” publishers=”Double Eleven” platforms=”PC/Vita” genres=”” release_date=”Out Now” version_played=”PC/Vita”]

Can the Tikiman save his tribe, or is he doomed to end up lonely in his forest as the monsters run over his little hut?

Before I begin, I would like to point out that I have not played Pixeljunk: Monsters in any way, shape or form before, so this review will be from that point of view: from someone who is completely new to the game.
Monsters Ultimate began making a sensation on the PSN, first as a PlayStation 3 exclusive, and then because of its success, finding its way to the other portable handhelds by Sony as well. The game has always had a good reception, so it was about time that it made its way to the PC, all thanks to steam!
The premise of the game is simple, you are the Tikiman, defender of the forest, and it’s up to you to defend your forest dominion of the nasty monsters that creep their way in to kill your offspring. Unfortunately, you have not the strength to defend them on your own, but you do however, possess the power to modify the trees in your dominion into watchful defence towers. So you must be strategic, make the proper defences, and defend your children! AIM FOR THE RAINBOW!

The game has a quite a simple and friendly design to it. Everything looks approachable and cartoony, from the monster design, to the various maps in the game. Even though the game is called monsters, you won’t find any scares here; it’s all just light hearted fun for all the family. The design of maps here is very important, because they play a huge role in the gameplay, but most of them are great and accomplish their purpose. I will add more to this in gameplay.
Similar to my previously reviewed Skulls of The Shogun game, the sound design is quite good. Unfortunately though, the music gets quite irritating at times. Most of the music pieces in the game are very short and loop endlessly, which got to be quite distracting and annoying after the fifth wave of monsters, but it can be turned off, so it’s not that much trouble. Sound effects and monsters sounds are better though, they respond nicely and are in proper sync with the general feel of the game.

A tower defence game through and through. In this game, you control one unit called the Tikiman. The Tikiman’s role is to do everything in his power to defend his children, and to do that, you must use his powers to modify trees in your dominion into watchful defence towers.

At the beginning of each level, you start with a set amount of gold, which is the currency used to build a tower in a tree.Every level has a set number of trees that are scattered around the map, and it is your role to decide how you want to transform these trees into defensive towers, taking into account how monsters approach that certain area around the tree, and if the range is adequate enough for the tower that you want to place in that tree. It’s all very straight forward and simple, but you will find that as you progress through each level, it will start to get more and more difficult: placing even one wrong tower at an inadequate location at a crucial time, could easily cost you the game.

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Every time your towers defeat a monster, they will drop more coins for you to build more towers, and in more rare occasions, they will drop green orbs. The green orbs are used to unlock more tower types in your base hut, or to upgrade your existing towers with improved power and range. If you do not have enough orbs, your towers upgrade by themselves as they land more hits, or you can speed up the process by standing inside them, doing a little Tiki dance that gives them experience.

The real difficulty in the game comes of managing how you use your Tikiman. Every decision you make will cost you time, for example, if you want to pick up the gold that fallen monsters have dropped, you will have to go there and pick up every coin and orb that was there before they disappear, but doing so means that you don’t have time to dance in one of your towers to upgrade, or time to put one more tower in that crucial edge where new monsters are coming from! The gameplay gets very involved as you progress through the game, with the difficulty becoming more and more challenging. The real skill comes in knowing what to do with the Tikiman in crucial moments in these encounters. Some instances will have multiple paths toward your hut, and the monsters will sometimes do “feints” toward them, but then turn back, at times, making it a stressful experience to guess if they are going to take a certain route or not.

After you have successfully survived to all the normal waves in the game, a final boss wave will challenge you. This wave consists of an extra strong monster that takes time to move, but is extremely resilient. At times like this, it is best to sell all the towers that are useless against that boss monster and quickly build ones to dish out more damage. After defeating the boss monster, the level is over.

The challenge mode is for those who are looking for a real nightmarish encounter. Found in the Tiki hut, medal challenges are repeats of old completed levels that can be re-played with a new specific condition to be cleared, for example, not upgrading any of your towers, having a certain number of gems, or not going into a certain area of the map. These are completely optional, and should only be attempted by people who really love a challenge, because I failed miserably when I tried them. I’m just not cut out for tower defence games, it seems.

Having had absolutely no experience with a tower defence game before, I think this game was a fun experience. The game mechanics were simple and intuitive, and the whole theme of the game was a warm, fun, and welcoming one. Very challenging despite its appearance, I recommend this to anyone who is new to the Tower Defence type of games, or just for anyone who happens to enjoy them, because Pixeljunk: Monsters Ultimate is definitely a solid experience.