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    jp's Pixeljunk Monsters Deluxe (PSP)

    [August 11, 2010 10:24:33 PM]
    I finished all of the easy and medium scenarios on the first island and have decided to call it a day. Towards the end I realized that, indeed, I now have a better understanding of how the game works and that I have no real interest in playing the rest of it. I'm sure there are monsters left to discover as well as towers to use. I just simply can't be bothered to replay multiple scenarios in hopes of getting enough rainbows (from a flawless victory) required to unlock the next group of scenarios. Not worth it.

    I guess I do kind of regret that I didn't play the game on "easy" and went for "normal" instead. However, how was I to know any better? You can change the difficulty at any moment, but you have play everything again. I couldn't be bothered with that.
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    [July 30, 2010 04:33:20 PM]
    I've been playing this in (sort-of) opposition to Plants vs Zombies. Both tower defense games, both on handheld (ipad perhaps less so) devices and both being played on (semi) alternate days. It's kind of unusual to find that the things that annoy me about one game are not present in the other, and vice versa. What is perhaps more interesting is that both games (exemplars in their class, according to review scores in any case, metascore of 86 and 88 for PMD and PvZ respectively) represent very different schools of thought regarding game design.

    PvZ is incredibly polished, has incredible personality, humor, and identity and is also entertaining to watch. Playing the game isn't terribly challenging and you mostly react to onscreen cues. Click here when coin appears, click there when sunshine appears. Most of the decisions you make while playing are easy and, barring the occasional mistake, the toughest choice you have is what selection of plants you want to have available during a game.

    PMD is less polished, has a strong identity and is also well-designed. However, rather than focus on easing the execution of your actions (call it interface polish if you will), it worries with providing tense in-game decision making moments through a combination of different incentives and risks. It is also a much harder game (I've barely made it into the "Medium" difficulty levels.

    Here's what I mean:

    (a) As usual, you need to build towers. However, their effectiveness varies a lot based on their placement and each level has a different geography that makes placement decisions a lot harder.

    (b) Enemies arrive quickly and for the most part move quickly as well. You don't have a lot of time to think.

    (c) You control a little guy who must go where you want to build a tower. So, traversing the map is important. You can waste a lot of valuable time simply going back and forth.

    (d) You can upgrade towers by spending gems. You only get gems by collecting them from dead guys. If your guy runs into an enemy, he gets knocked down (losing coins and gems). Not only is it quite risky to collect gems, but they also disappear fast as well!

    (e) Coins are dropped in the same way, but you spend them to build towers.

    (f) You can also upgrade your towers by standing still on them and "dancing". THIS creates a lot of tension since the impulse is to go out and collect the coins/gems. Towers can also level up by doing damage, so it is often the case that you need to pick the ideal moment to dance on a tower so that it levels, without losing coin collecting opportunities.

    (g) At the end of each wave, you get a bonus amount of coins that is a percentage of the coins you currently have banked. Another interesting point of tension! If you wait too long to build a tower, it wont' get built in time, but you can get the bonus coins. On the other hand...

    (h) You can also spend gems to unlock (for that level only!) special towers. These are pretty much essential during the levels. So, there's a lot of tension involved in deciding when to lose time heading back to your home (where you can unlock the special towers) or if it's better to simply use the gems to upgrade.

    Almost none of these tensions exist in PvZ even though, especially if you look at someone playing, both games SEEM very frantic and tense. Honestly, PMD is the real contender for the mental anguish prize.

    It also doesn't help that it's taken me a while to figure the game out. For example, I assumed that all upgrades to a tower were essentially the same: do more damage. It turns out that (there are little icons, but they weren't explained anywhere), different towers upgrade differently. Some upgrades increase range, some damage, and they can vary even for the same tower. So, Lev1 to Lev2 might increase range but Lev2 to Lev3 might increase the damage.
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    jp's Pixeljunk Monsters Deluxe (PSP)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Something better came along

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 21 July, 2010

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 11 August, 2010

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    Definitely some interesting ideas for those who are interested in exploring the tower defense subgenre. However the difficulty curve is steep and unforgiving. Be prepared to lose early and often.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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