The Tower Defense genre over the years has seen its fair share of hits and misses when it comes to not only presentation, but gameplay aesthetic as well. Notable classics like Plants vs. Zombies really helped to accentuate just how much fun tower building can be, once all the pieces are sewn together and you see your hard work pay off beautifully. Other very popular titles are Orcs Must Die! 2 and, of course, Clash of Clans, both of which helped to take the genre to an entirely new level of depth and strategy in order to keep gameplay compelling and rewarding. So this brings us to PixelJunk Monsters 2, the follow up to the original which comes with various visual and gameplay improvements that make this game a treat for any Tower Defense fan. PixelJunk Monsters 2 takes place in a unique world where you star as the Tiki Man, who must protect the village and chibi from incoming monsters that try to bring devastation to the area. It’s up to you to become the eyes and ears of Tiki Man, as you strategically build and place defense towers in order to defeat the waves of enemies that continuously try to bombard you.
PixelJunk Monsters 2 takes a unique spin on the genre by allowing players to choose between a third person view, or the classic top down view, with both perspectives adding their own unique gameplay twists throughout your time playing. The approach is simple but having the right execution is imperative in order to survive and accumulate enough points to gather better tools, but also greater rewards as the levels get gradually harder.
What to Expect
PixelJunk Monsters 2 continues where the original left off, providing a much cleaner framerate, more tools to your disposal and more challenges that will have you desperately trying to aim for a perfect score. While it certainly will not be an easy feat, the gameplay is what truly sets PixelJunk Monsters 2 apart from any other Tower Defense game on the market, simply due to its visual aesthetic that takes inspiration from stop motion animation and combines it with the more modern technology. You can tackle the game on your own and test your tower defense prowess, or you can venture online and play the game with others for more fun. Whatever direction you choose is entirely your prerogative, but in the end, PixelJunk Monsters 2 serves up a dish that’s flavorful and provides just enough to keep you feeling satisfied.
There’s no over the top features or wild special effects, it’s simply tower defense at its finest and if you’re able to overcome the many obstacles in front of you, this game can truly bring happiness to your heart. Of course, there will be moments of sheer frustration, as the game tests your limits, but what’s a tower defense game without some heart wrenching moments to keep you coming back for more. Expect a lot of thinking and trial and error as you play through, which could be seen as a good thing or bad thing depending on your perspective. You are essentially thrown into a world where you need to improvise on the fly and by doing so, annoying instances will confront you along the way. So keep that in mind if you’re new to the genre and are looking to test the waters to see whether it’s the right fit for you. Now, grab those Tiki Masks and kick some monster arse!
Most tower defense titles don’t really come with a compelling story or riveting narrative to keep you engaged, and that can be said with PixelJunk Monsters 2. Tiki Man is the primary focus as he’s the character you’ll be in control of, racing around each level trying to build as many weapons as possible to prevent catastrophe from happening. Your main objective is to protect the Chibi, 20 of them to be exact, and by doing so, you’ll be able to achieve rewards the more you save. The waves start off fairly straightforward which really act as an in game tutorial or “warm-up” for players, before really engaging in the more laborious tasks that lie ahead. Using the top down view, you’ll be able to traverse around the world, looking for spots with trees in order to start building.
This view is incredibly useful since it provides a much better perspective on what’s currently happening around you, but more importantly, it helps you to better understand enemy routes so you can strategically keep them out for as long as possible. Easier said than done, of course, but it certainly helps to know where enemies spawn from, so that as you gradually level up your items and waves become even larger, having a base ideas of where they come from will be of great welfare for you. Speaking of rewards, if you’re able to successfully keep every single Chibi alive at the end of the waves, you’ll earn special rainbow blocks which provide you with a surprise that we’ll let you experience.
That is, if you’re able to actually keep all 20 Chibi alive during crunch time, which admittedly, we tried and failed, but that’s the beauty of playing. While the game can be a taxing ordeal, on the contrary, it’s that very taxing feeling that starts to feel euphoric once you actually pull off your objective in flying colors. This will come with repeating stages again to really get a feel for things, buying and upgrading along with memorizing areas which give you the most results in terms of your tower building.
Going briefly into the third person perspective that we mentioned earlier, it’s actually a unique feature to PixelJunk Monsters 2 that adds a new element of gameplay in a tower defense universe. Traversing the world in this perspective turns the game into an entirely new experience which almost feels like you’re playing an adventure game. You race around the world with Tiki Man and witness as enemies take hits from the towers you’ve built, and seeing bits and pieces flying around you in 3D fashion. It’s a glorious addition to the game that allows you to play through it in such a way that’s not only joyous in its own right, but gives players a chance to see things from Tiki Man’s perspective.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
PixelJunk Monsters 2 is a wonderful title for anyone looking for an entry point into the genre, and is very challenging title for anyone familiar with tower defense mechanics. In spite of that though, the game can at times be so overtly difficult especially in the higher difficulties, where keeping those Chibi alive can really generate a lot of stress. Now, of course, games aren’t meant to create that sort of feeling and obviously it wasn’t the intention of the development team, but it certainly can have you feeling overwhelmed when you aren’t ready for what’s ahead. Perhaps the best advice we can give is practice, practice, practice. Continue to create new strategies every time and try not to exert too much of your focus on one particular area of the map, but spread your tactics out enough to maintain a strong defense. Use all of your rewards and various buffs to your advantage, and dress up your Tiki Man just for the hell of it because it’s fun to do so!
Very fun and unique tower defense experience.
The third person view is certainly rewarding and breathes new life into the game.
Very in depth and can reward you if you play through it thoroughly.
Play with others online (4 player co-op) if you get bored of the single player campaign.
Fluid and detailed visuals!
At higher difficulties the game can really be frustrating if you’re not ready for it.
Honey's Final Verdict:
PixelJunk Monsters 2 is definitely worth the purchase if tower defense titles are of interest to you, but also newcomers to the genre will find its challenge to be worthwhile once you dabble more with its features. For its affordable price point on the PlayStation 4 ($14.99), it’s certainly not going to strangle your wallet in any way, so pick it up and give it a shot! Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest gaming news, and of course follow us on Twitch to know when we go live with your favorite titles!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!