PixelJunk Monsters (Wii U) Review

By Drew Hurley 30.05.2016 1

Review for PixelJunk Monsters on Wii U

The PixelJunk franchise from Q-Games may have begun with Sony, but this instalment has found its way to Wii U. These games have run the gambit in types and styles, and Monsters is a tower defense one. With the advent of mobile gaming, though, this genre became one of the most oversaturated kinds out there. What new or fresh ideas can this title hope to bring to a stale breed?

The premise here is the same as with most tower defense titles: there is a village with 20 people in to protect, and each stage has swarms of different enemies slowly walking their way towards the village. Each one that reaches it decreases the amount of villagers by one, and if there are none left it's 'Game Over.' Instead of acting as a god like being overseeing from above, the game is played via an NPC called Tikiman. This weird looking old man darts across each map, and is able to turn the trees of each stage to the familiar archetype turrets.

This tower defense title feels unlike most in quite a refreshing way, since, instead of the usual careful planning of the level, plus sitting back as the enemies walk through bombardments, PixelJunk Monsters requires constant rushing around through each stage. Tikiman has to run to fallen enemies to collect the coins and gems they drop before they vanish, avoiding other enemies or a painful amount of coin can be lost, not to mention having to run over to place new turrets and to upgrade existing ones.

There are 47 Levels to play through, and each will surely be replayed quite a few times. The difficulty is surprisingly high and the levels take real effort to complete, especially when trying not to lose any villagers, in order to collect the "rainbow" of each stage - the currency that unlock each of the later levels. There are also 24 challenges to try and complete across the stages that cannot be attempted until the stage has already been completed.

Screenshot for PixelJunk Monsters on Wii U

There are only three towers to begin with, each is going to feel familiar to anyone who has played a tower defense title. An arrow tower which slowly fires individual shots at mobs in both the air and on the ground, a cannon tower deals splash damage to enemies only on the ground and anti-air guns deal fast machine gun-esque damage to aerial foes. Then there are towers that can be unlocked for use in each stage, tesla towers set off dancing trails of electricity which deal massive damage to all enemies in range at once, laser towers shoot out lasers that damage all in their path, and, finally, the mortar towers throw out massive splash damage balls of fire.

The gems regularly dropped by the enemies can be used to level up towers or to unlock the special towers. The difference in strength between the regular and the special towers is ridiculous, with the special towers doing so much more damage that it really isn't worth using the gems for upgrading towers, but only unlocking these on each stage. The choices don't stop there, though, there are special stages scattered through the game that when completed give Tikiman power ups along with access to other Tower choices, flames and frost and traps.

The gameplay has the same fun and addictive nature as most in the genre, but there are little flaws and annoyances that really impact the final product. First off, because of the amount of time each wave takes, the game feels very slow, with Tikiman plodding around and towers seemingly taking forever to finish building. Secondly, the difficulty is very random across stages, with some of the self-titled "hard" stages being a walkthrough, while some "medium" ones will have gamers aiming for the rainbow on that stage pitching the Wii U gamepad across the room.

The gamepad is somewhat superfluous to the experience to be fair, it can be used in addition to the main screen to choose which special turrets to unlock but there's little benefit. It can also, of course, be used instead to play remotely, and here is where the game feels unlike a console title, it fits on the gamepad better. Like FPS with keyboard and mouse or fighters with a joystick, tower defense titles just work as portable games better than on console.

Screenshot for PixelJunk Monsters on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


A fun game with plenty of reasons to replay but ultimately one that does little to make it feel different to the legions of tower defense already on the market. Frustratingly it's more fun playing this on the gamepad, and it feels like it would be much better on 3DS. Worth playing for the tower defense aficionados out there, but it would probably be better to play the PS Vita version.


Double Eleven


Double Eleven





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


Alex (guest) 21.08.2016#1

How different is this version from the Vita and PC Ultimate HD versions?

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