While it's been released to the masses for some time now, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on Q-Games' PixelJunk Monsters, the tower defense title for the PS3. Because while I'd downloaded it hoping for a PS3-ised version of the acclaimed Desktop Tower Defense, I received a game that was completely different.
And it's sort of been rocking my world.
It's unfair, really, that Desktop Tower Defense has become the gold standard of the genre. Because while the game is excellent, its success forces us to expect more of the same—and I daresay, even hope for more of the same—in other tower defense titles.
So when I loaded PixelJunk Monsters, I was immediately frustrated by the interface. Not only does the game limit you by demanding that turrets can only be placed where there are trees (eliminating the DTD maze creativity altogether), but it forces you to ration your movements wisely. Instead of playing a god that can place turrets at will, you control a little man that runs around doing such tasks instead. So your character has to simultaneously build turrets, stand by said turrets for them to upgrade (money alone will not accomplish this feat), dodge between monsters to pick up money and power-ups (because if you get hit, your coins go Sonic) and occasionally run back to his base to unlock new turrets (oh, because every level forces you to unlock the good weapon through gem purchases).
But the result of all these choking restrictions is remarkably enjoyable. PixelJunk Monsters forces a constant in the moment juggling act that requires intelligence and dexterity. The result varies between a chaotic mess and an extraordinary coordinated ballet—depending on how well the game is going at that moment. But in either circumstance, the game is always fast, fun and crazy addictive. And it's been sucking up way too much of my time when I have a stack of "AAA" games to play.