This game, heralding the second series of the PixelJunk franchise takes an innovative leap in various aspects, however at its core it’s another tower defence game that does little outside the genre. Directed by Kazushi Maeta, PixelJunk Monsters 2 is still a pleasant way to kill a few hours of your free time. Key features, as listed on the Eshop include: local and online play with up to four players, close encounters (a shift in perspective), fluid and detailed graphics, and the customisation of Tikiman.
You play the game as Tikiman, an adorable little fellow who runs around in a mask and a shell trying to protect his chibi family from monsters invading their homeland. This is the only semblance of plot in the game, which I feel is a missed opportunity as a story mode could have really tied the game together well and given yet another incentive to continue to play the levels. There are five areas: Pockulu Forest, Karstale Highlands, Gardans Caves, Twinking Snowfields, and Coco Valley. Each of these areas have three stages to complete from which you earn rainbow fragments for completing without and fatalities. You then exchange these fragments to move onto the next area. Each stage has three difficulties, so overall there are 45 rainbow fragments to collect.
I really enjoy the way the game looks, especially with all the aesthetic shifts from the first instalment. There’s a move to more bright primary colours which really catch the eye and make the world seem more vibrant, shifting it to a more toy box aesthetic which really works for the series. The transitions of the old models of Tikiman and the monsters are also beautiful, keeping with the old birds eye camera angle, as well as seeming more detailed from the third person perspective. Tikiman also has the option to change his masks and shells which you can buy with coins you earn at the end of a level, with more added to the store with each area you unlock. The game seems to a feel a bit like a stop motion film which works really well for it. The music, composed by Jukio “Kuabee” Kallio, is pleasant when it needs to be, such as in the hub world or the menus. However it can become intense to reflect the level you are playing. This variety meant that I wanted to listen whilst playing and it wasn’t too repetitive.
The actual gameplay, as mentioned before, is just like any other tower defence game. You build towers to defend a central spot on a map from waves of enemies. Different towers have different effects and can affect certain monsters. These fall into categories when it comes to building; ground, air and both. To build towers you need to use coins to convert a tree into your weapon of choice. You start with enough to build at least one and then you collect coins and gems (used to build better towers and to upgrade existing ones) from defeated monsters. The strategy not only comes from where you place your towers, but also how much they cost. If you find yourself in a pinch, you can deconstruct a tower to earn back coins, however not the full amount you spent on the tower in the first place. The change in perspective is also good for gameplay, with the bird’s eye camera useful for a good look at the overall map, to check tower perspective and which way the monsters are attacking from. The third person perspective is better for finding dropped items and also get a more detailed look at terrain which you can use to your advantage. For example, a tower on top of a hill will be able to hit monsters further away than one on the ground.
There are a few things I would change or add to the title to make it even better. The first is the aforementioned story. I feel this game, with the level of care taken into the design and gameplay, could do with a stronger narrative thread than just the same old protect your home against the monsters. A proper story, with maybe a large looming threat would add just a little incentive to progress the game instead of playing a few levels and then putting it down and coming back after a day or two to do the same thing. My second improvement I would like to suggest is to make the customisable outfits have some sort of effect on the gameplay, instead of it just being an aesthetic choice. Maybe not even all of them, as there are loads. But perhaps certain special items that cost more which can grant you some extra coins, or run faster etc.
Overall, PixelJunk Monsters 2 is a really enjoyable sit down, and is pleasant to look at and listen too. There is some DLC available on the Eshop which enables extra levels, towers, enemies, masks and shells; however they are not necessary to enjoy the game.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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PixelJunk Monsters 2 Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
This game, heralding the second series of the PixelJunk franchise takes an innovative leap in various aspects, however at its core it’s another tower defence game that does little outside the genre.