Tikiman, his chibi friends and refined tower control action comes to Nintendo Switch!
In my downtime between different games, I found myself constantly coming back to PixelJunk Monsters 2. I was able to play enough in my free time to the point where I do have things I can say. This tower defense title doesn't refine the genre, or do things overly different, but it is polished far beyond its calling. With clever elements that keep the player sharp, it just felt right to play on the go.
If you’ve ever played a tower defense game, the concept isn’t hard to grasp. You’ll have to make towers, and ensure that they hit the incoming targets. By earning money for these efforts, you’ll be able to upgrade these towers and keep the Chibi creatures at the end save. The twist here is the character Tikiman, which you control across the environment. You will have to walk him back and forth to make sure everything is running smoothly. He creates the towers, upgrades them and powers them up by doing a little dance. His mechanics are straightforward and fun, allowing most players to understand the mechanics after a level or two.
There is a certain strategy to the towers that you’ll have to decide on. They come in three different flavors which are ground, all-round and anti-air. Within these segments, they come with different strengths and abilities fit for specific tasks. Considering the towers cost a decent amount of resources, Gems and Gold, you’ll have to make those decisions very carefully. One wrong move and you might be left with a bunch of dead Chibis. The placement matters too as they might take a route you weren’t expecting. The sound thing to do is continuously upgrade towers by spending or dancing, and to keep your options open.
The placement of towers not only matters from an enemy standpoint, but also in terms of earning your required resources. Unlike other games within the genre, your rewards are dropped on the place of your enemy's defeat. If an enemy dies near a river, there is a good chance those coins will disappear with the aquatic life. There is a need in making sure that your earned loot drops in a safe place, without losing focus of your bigger goal. It keeps you sharp until the very end, which makes PixelJunk Monsters 2 such a delight.
Beyond all of this, PixelJunk Monsters 2 isn't an easy game. Even on the ''Fun'' difficulty option, the waves coming in can be really relentless. Monsters can change paths without notice, forcing you to multi-task. It becomes even more brutal when you didn't make the right towers in time, or are simply oblivious to there being a new enemy type. Naturally, you can always take a second stab at a level, but the brutality of its point-to-point moments might be something you aren't quite prepared for.
PixelJunk Monsters 2 is dipped in this claymation-esque look that I really adore. During the majority of the game, you can switch to a first-person perspective and see all of the little details up close and personal. I found myself constantly swapping between the two, solely so I can see the towers doing their work. The music underlines the overall atmosphere of the game well, and is a delight with headphones plugged in on the Switch.
PixelJunk Monsters 2 brought me one of the most delightful tower defense experiences I’ve ever had. The way you have to think of the towers is better than most. You will have to look around, ensure the space for pick-ups is available and quickly start building your defense force. Even if you can master that side of it, it’s a relentless game that doesn't know when to halt. Some patterns can absolutely destroy you without proper notice, forcing you to play over and perfect certain levels. While that side can be little irritating now and again, it can't be denied the amount of effort Q-Games put in.