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The PixelJunk games have always been a really “artsy” series. The artwork and presentation always came first and it worked very well, it still does. PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate is sort of a departure from games like PixelJunk Eden. It is a Tower Defense game with less focus on the highly stylized artwork and more on original gameplay.

Tikman the Forest Defender is in trouble. Monsters are invading and sweeping through his forest devouring his children. He must use his magical powers of the forest to create towers to defeat the hordes of monsters plaguing his home. Quite frankly, the story seems a bit dark for such a brightly colored game. I like it.

PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate has four game modes, Singleplayer, Online Co-Op, Local Co-Op, and Challenge Mode. There are 47 levels in the main campaign and just as many for challenge mode. There is also an island with infinitely spawning levels that are randomly generated. There are plenty of levels in this game and the Steam version of this game has more in game unlockables like artwork, music, and other goodies. This game is not lacking replay value for completionist gamers.

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The tower Defense genre is a wide genre. There are so many ways to do Tower Defense. Games like Sanctum integrate FPS elements, and Dungeon Defenders fuses Action/RPG elements. PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate has long mazes of trees to use. Tikman is a Forest Guardian so to place his towers you use the trees in the environment. While the path the monsters follow are static, there are still plenty of ways to build your towers in an efficient matter.

Placing towers takes coins, coins are dropped by enemies. Towers can then be upgraded one of three ways. You use coins, eggs, and dancing. Dancing is the free way to upgrade but it takes the longest. Upgrading with coins is the most cost efficient way to upgrade, and using eggs to upgrade is the most expensive, but also the most powerful. Eggs are dropped by enemies and they are also used to unlock more towers through the course of the mission.

The downside to the tower unlocking is that they do not carry over from level to level. You always start with the same three towers. If you want to unlock the other towers you must use the eggs as currency, then rinse repeat for every level. I want tower progression outside of the missions. It gives you a better sense of accomplishment and makes the game feel like it has more to offer. This mechanic also makes the game feel more tedious than fun considering there is no way to speed up the game. It does set the game apart, which is respectable.

PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate is a challenging tower defense game but the pacing due to the challenge feels sluggish because of no speed up option. Sure it does encourage more strategy but when you are fighting the larger slow moving enemies you feel like you should go make a sandwich while you are waiting.

The controls are tight and the music is nice. The art is one of the best parts about PJMU. While a departure from games like Eden, the vibrant colors and smooth drawing is great to look at. This is a fun game with plenty to do if you have the patience. I give PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate an 8/10. You can get it on PSN in HD or on Steam.

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