(PlayStation Network - Vita)

PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD (PlayStation Network - Vita)

Game Review

PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Greg Giddens

Tiki-tastic

If you thought that you'd saved the Tiki tribe from the perilous monster hoards attacking your settlements, then think again. Waves of vicious beasts still roam the wilderness, and Tikiman still only has one defence. It's time to construct towers augmented with powerful weapons and once again protect your kin from being gobbled up in PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD.

Q-Games' tower defence classic is now available on the PlayStation Vita, with all of the content from its PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable predecessors in tow, and a dash of high-definition polish to bring the action to life on your OLED screen. Touch controls have been implemented for menu navigation, camera orientation, and movement, but this alternative option doesn't trump the traditional analogue stick setup. As such, this is more of a re-release than an enhanced edition – but we'll take any excuse to greedily sink more glorious hours into this PlayStation Network classic.

For the somehow uninitiated, this is a traditional tower defence excursion wrapped up in a cute cartoon aesthetic. Vibrant two-dimensional monsters – ranging from giant spiders, hulking golems, and peculiar birds – march towards your stronghold, all intent on scoffing your settlement of 20 defenceless innocents. You, the brave but unarmed Tikiman, must construct towers through each small map to cut down the monsters as they travel along winding paths towards your tribesmen.

You're free to move around each arena and place towers on any tree that you can find, providing ample opportunity for a variety of placements. It can feel like trial and error at first, but once you get a feel for each stage, picking off the beasts successfully becomes a real tactical task. You only lose one civilian to each monster that manages to slip through, but the impact of this will be enough to prompt you to reconsider your strategy and change your tower placement. As such, replaying a level is a major part of the game's appeal. The drive to do better, climb the online leaderboards, and strive for a coveted rainbow medal by keeping all of the survivors alive is strong, and with the aforementioned multicoloured medallions critical to unlocking new areas of the island overworld, it's a testament to the game's design that it doesn't feel frustrating jumping back into previously completed stages.

Mowing down waves of attacking monstrosities is hugely satisfying, too, so designing the optimum kill zone with your towers is an engaging pursuit. With the maps offering so much choice, the game possesses a puzzle-like quality as you figure out the best defence pattern, and sometimes real-time decisions will have a significant impact on success. You both need to plan ahead, and think on your feet.

Indeed, you're given only a limited window between waves with little notice of what kind of attackers are coming next. Flying enemies will be immune to ground attacking towers and vice versa, so having the right mixture of defences is an important thing to consider. Getting the placement and type of attack wrong can prove a costly mistake, and leave you vulnerable in the early stages when you're working from initial, limited funds.

Speaking of which, money is collected from defeated foes and found in the occasional tree, allowing you to buy additional towers. Meanwhile, enemies will also drop the odd gem which can be used to instantly upgrade a tower or research a new one. Defences will improve over time as they thwart enemies. However, you can also place Tikiman next to a building and he'll do a little dance which slowly increases its power. Running around the map, constructing and upgrading your arsenal, researching new towers, and collecting resources keeps you busy throughout each wave, but it also augments the action with an uncharacteristically fast pace. Tower defence can be a slow genre, but that's not true here.

And if the strong-as-ever core gameplay and gorgeous visual upgrade wasn't enough, this re-release also comes packed with all of the content from the previous versions. There are three islands waiting for you to bravely defend their shores, along with a fourth landmass that creates randomly generated maps. The Tiki Hut – accessed from the main menu – offers 24 challenges with specific criteria, such as hoarding gems and not upgrading any towers. Finally, there's the option to take the fight online or via ad-hoc to co-operatively defend your settlement, with each player receiving unique resources, forcing you to work together towards a common goal.

Conclusion

PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD serves up a cannon blast of brilliance. At its core is a traditional tower defence game with a gorgeous aesthetic, but its considered gameplay, taxing tactics, and satisfying reward loop will make you dance to the beat of its drum. This will tear through your defences and devour your time like a gluttonous fiend. Don't miss this monstrous hit.

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User Comments (16)

get2sammybAdmin

#1

get2sammyb said:

Yes! One of my favourite PSN/PSP games ever. I'm so excited to play this, so glad to hear that it's still as brilliant as ever. Great review, Greg. :D

ObviouslyAdachi

#2

ObviouslyAdachi said:

I always find it funny when there's an HD remake of a console game on a handheld. It used to be the other way around.

XyVoX

#3

XyVoX said:

As good as this game is i have it for PS3 and love it you have to question its value as their are many Android/Ios tower defense games equally as good if not better and they cost much less considering its better suited to touchscreen controls aswell me thinks £9.99 is way to much so i fail to see how it got a 9 as the final score has to be reflective of price/value.

get2sammybAdmin

#4

get2sammyb said:

@XyVoX I disagree. There are a lot of brilliant tower defence games, but this is the cream of the crop in my opinion. The fact that it has remained so reflects just how good the original was. Also, you get a TON of content here.

Greg totally took into account the price, and still deemed it worthy of a 9. This is worth your money.

Squiggle55

#5

Squiggle55 said:

I hear there's no platinum. Is there a gold at least? I'm buying this no matter what, but I'm crossing my fingers for a ps+ discount.

psnstores

#7

psnstores said:

For the people asking about trophies. There are only Bronze ones. From talking with the devs, they didn't know that they could have a platinum and will try to patch it in.

Squiggle55

#10

Squiggle55 said:

@psnstores @get2sammyb Wow, I know it sounds lame to people that don't care about trophies, but I will feel very, very satisfied if they are able to pull that off and add a platinum. Like I've said before, if perfect clearing PJ Monsters, the PSP levels, and the DLC, and beating all of those difficult side challenges isn't deserving of a platinum on PSN, then I don't know what is. It's mind boggling that you get a bronze for that.

Kenshin0104

#11

Kenshin0104 said:

A very addictive game this combine with dragons crown in a couple of days and thats a recipe for sleepless nights >.<

Stuffgamer1

#12

Stuffgamer1 said:

@psnstores: After a rather lengthy session of Googling, I've been unable to locate any more information regarding your statement. Don't mean to sound like a jerk, but do you have any evidence to back up your claim? Thing is, I really want to get this game...but I'm concerned about the Trophy issue, especially what patching the thing would do to those who had already earned them.

Stuffgamer1

#14

Stuffgamer1 said:

@psnstores: Yeah, I guess that would do it. I did find a few statements from them on the PSBlog saying it was out of their hands...but I suppose that COULD be down to them not knowing it WAS in their hands. I dunno...in the meantime, 21 bronzes, especially of such difficulty, feels like a slap in the face. I already got 100% on PS3 and a lot of those Trophies weren't really worth it as it is. sigh

Also, I assume by your username that you're affiliated with http://www.psnstores.com/ Had to discover the site through Googling to make the connection, though...might want to put a link on your Push Square profile page.

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