Thursday, November 20, 2008

PixelJunk Monsters

The PixelJunk series of games have been crafted as PlayStation 3 exclusives by a studio in Kyoto, Japan that's run by an American. As such they sport an off-beat style that makes them immediately engaging. 'Monsters' is PixelJunk's take on a tower defense game which is itself a stripped down version of traditional real time strategy games.

The game itself was fairly entertaining at first then annoying, and eventually "throw your controller through the TV aggravating". This followed a similar theme through other PixelJunk games where they start with a unique art style, solid gameplay and a great soundtrack, but then the developer finds that's not enough to stretch out over the length of even a $10 game. Given that, they resort to making the game more and more difficult, not more strategically challenging mind you, just harder. Enemies take more hits to take down, they flood your defenses more, etc. Whenever I see such a cheap stunt I recall American McGee equating this technique to making a book harder to read the closer you get to the end.

The game's one redeeming 'post aggravation' attribute is the co-op gameplay which enabled Kid Sandmich and me to spread the difficulty between the two of us. This team dynamic is what eventually made the game difficult to put down. Despite my initial hatred of the single player, when we came to the end of the co-op game I was disappointed that it was over. Sure it was a ten dollar game, but with such cheap mechanics there really wasn't any reason not to pack in a couple more levels.

Like PixelJunk Eden, this game is packed with promise but falls short of where my expectation level is. It might just be that I knew that ten bucks could have gotten me a good PS2 game down at Gamestop, so my expectations might be misplaced.

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