Once, ages ago, before 3D graphics, thirty million dollar game budgets, and intense media scrutiny of the video game industry, game programmers toiled away in their garages for a few weeks or months, cranking out creative little titles for home computers like the Commodore 64 and Apple II+. Restricted by a serious lack of horsepower, these games featured none of the bells and whistles of today’s blockbusters. Still, despite low-resolution 2D graphics, and mono sound games found themselves enthralled by these creative efforts for one simple reason: game play.
Now, many of today’s games, despite the increasing focus on blurring the line between fantasy and reality, still boast exceptional game play value. However, there are some gorgeous looking games out there that have flopped at retail because the developers of those games forgot the golden rule: game play is king. It was true back in the 80s and it is true now. All the window dressing in the world won’t make a terrible game fun. But, take away all the flash and dash and you can still have a compelling title. Just look at the millions of gamers playing games like Bejeweled, Tetris, Solitaire, and Minesweeper. No incredibly detailed 3D environments, or 6 channel surround sound, just simple, addictive game play.
When the Playstation 3 launched, Sony focused their marketing efforts on the horsepower of the machine, and the incredible graphics it was capable of producing. They probably couldn’t have imagined a humble little independent game company called Q-Games would start to produce some of PS3’s most addictive titles, in 2D!
With the PS3, featuring a built in hard drive, Sony has allowed smaller developers to create smaller, low-budget games, and sell them via direct download to customers on Sony’s Playstation Network. To date many companies have featured their creations. Some have been incredible, and others mundane. With Pixeljunk Monsters, an easy to learn, addictive tower defense game, Q-Games has struck all the right chords for both the casual and hard core gamer alike.
As I mentioned above, Pixeljunk Monsters is presented in 2D, its fantasy world graphics reminiscent of early SNES Final Fantasy games. But the graphics, while unspectacular, are serviceable enough to complement the fantastic game play.
Easy to jump into, addictive, with a clever balance of frustration and fun, Pixeljunk Monsters is one of the sleeper hits of the PS3 to date. Players are tasked with constructing towers on a single screen map to defend their helpless villagers from wave after wave of monsters. As the defending towers destroying the invading creatures, the player earns gold and gems, used for building more towers, upgrading existing towers, or gaining access to new and more powerful towers. How you decide to deploy your wealth of gold and gems is critical for protecting your villagers, and a strategy that works for one stage may fail miserably for another.
Pixeljunk Monsters also features a cooperative mode, where you can team up with a friend to defend your villagers. This multiplayer option allows for different strategies, and of course adds a social element to the game.
All in all I would give Pixeljunk Monsters a 9 out of 10. It is a game that has appeal for almost any style of game. Only those that consider realistic 3D graphics as the be-all-end-all of video gaming wouldn’t enjoy this game. For anyone who knows that game play is the only criterion that really matters, Pixeljunk Monsters is a must buy. and at less than $10 it is a steal of a deal.