Deep in the midst of a creature filled forest lives a man determined to protect his children day or night to ensure their safety. This is however not any normal man this is Tikiman. From developers Q Games; Pixel Junk Monsters makes it way to the Wii U hoping to make a mark on the Tower and Defence genre. With thousands of monsters lining up to attack the determined father can he actually stop them? With a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal it’s up to you to make sure his home and offspring are unharmed. It might have been easier to just move but anyway: Pixel Junk Monsters seems promising from the outside, but can it hold its own or as the title suggests be left in the junk pile?
On first glance when starting, you have two main options that stand out Start Game (Single Player) and Two Player. Starting with single player you are rewarding for your purchase with a huge amount of content for the price of £6.99. With 47 levels and 24 challenges amassing 10 hours plus worth of gameplay before taking into consideration all the extra collectibles you’ll be struggling to find a game so packed.
Starting off you get a thorough tutorial (which is skippable) that outlines all the dynamics before throwing you into your first level. Working like most typical Tower and Defence games you set up different weapons (towers)to defend your home from the oncoming assault. With weapons like arrow launchers specifically for enemies that fly and cannons for ground based you must adjust your tactics accordingly. Coins are used as currency to purchase more towers where as gems are traded to research new tower types. Sacrificing towers for more coins to purchase bigger upgrades is one of the many decisions you must succumb to during play.
The core premise of the game is pure fun with emphasis given on your lack of time to prepare before the next round begins. Choosing whether to spend your money on more towers or upgrade the ones you already have built is a common trait of this genre, yet still works superbly well. What is shocking is how quick the difficulty ranks up. Playing on regular even the first level makes you think carefully about your actions. This is not a negative, far from it I commend the developers for challenging the player from the word go. Too many games these days are light on challenge and pose no real danger until much further on.
Using the GamePad to navigate Tikiman suffices with the screen itself used to show the Tikihut where you purchase all upgrades. You can then switch between this, mirroring the screen or turning it off altogether. Using the stylus to choose which trees to turn into towers could have put a new spin and made use of the control a bit more, still nothing to really make that much of a fuss about.
The art-style of the pixel monsters are unusual sometimes seeming out-of-place but the lost tribe/Hawaiian feel given to Mr Tikiman fit nice. Expecting more Caribbean or Hawaiian vibes from the music, what you do get is a more laid back calm arrangement that fails to deliver when tension mounts. What it does though is not annoy or distract from the main game yet it really doesn’t add anything to the overall package.
Offering local co-op is a rare inclusion in 2016 with all most multiplayers being online based it’s refreshing to see some good old fashioned co-op with a buddy right next to you instead of in another country (No offence Jorge). With you and your friend having to share coins this time round you must work together in order to ensure safety. The feature works extremely well and I ended up having more fun in co-op then I did in single player. Saying that I did feel there was a lack of competition as working as a team only held up for so long before we started taking all the coins for ourselves. A versus mode could have added some spice to keep the momentum going and most importantly I would have more likely returned for future plays.
For what its worth Pixel Junk Monsters offers a great deal. From it’s mammoth sized single player mode to added challenges. As typical as the gameplay mechanics are for this genre, they do perfect them. A lack of notable music and competitive play are really the only downfalls. Local co-op itself is a stupendous and rare inclusion that should really be took more of advantage of. With 2016 verging more into the realms of online multiplayer only, it’s relieving to know that there are still some strong co-op experiences out there.
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