PixelJunk Monsters is a one or two player game, where each player controls his own Tiki-man. The player(s) must build towers on the map to protect the flock from being killed by monsters. This game has many influences, namely popular tower defense maps in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. The game spans across 21 distinct levels, categorized into three different difficulties.
Trophy support was added in a patch, but as with most smaller downloadable titles it is allocated fewer trophies and excludes the Platinum Trophy. PixelJunk Monsters also works with with the PSP via Remote Play. A PSP version of PixelJunk Monsters called PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe was released with extra content and controls suited to the PSP.
Easy levels send 10 waves of monsters at the players, while medium and hard levels have 20 waves. The last wave in every level is boss monster with a large amount of health. Monsters drop coins and gems upon death. Coins enable the player to build additional towers, and gems can be used to instantly upgrade towers or to purchase the ability to build new types of towers. The player must run around to pick up coins and gems from dead monsters before they disappear. At the end of every wave, the player gains interest on unspent coins. Interest starts at 5% of current coin balance, but can be increased up to 20% by spending gems at the hut (7-9 gems for each upgrade). When not picking up coins, the player can dance around a single tower to upgrade it over time. There are five levels of power for each tower type. The towers can also gain experience on their own by landing the killing blow on any monster. Towers can also be sold for about 70% of their purchase cost. As players complete a level, adjacent levels are unlocked, unless there is a wall blocking the path. Walls are lowered by completing a certain number of levels without losing any of the 20 flocklings. Levels completed perfectly are denoted by a rainbow.
PixelJunk Monsters Encore
This expansion adds a new island (Toki Island) with 15 additional levels. The levels are categorized as easy, medium, or hard as they were on Tiki Island, however, easy levels on Toki Island are comparable in difficulty to hard on Tiki Island. Any unlockables gained on Tiki Island will not carry over, and must be re-earned by completing three new special levels. In addition, ice towers are made available from the start of every level, and tesla towers now cost less gems to unlock.
After completing all 15 levels in the expansion, as well as the 21 levels on Tiki Island, players unlock Tum Tum Island. Players input a five digit sequence of numbers and letters, and a random layout will be used (one of 36 different levels) depending on the code, and also the types of monsters and their paths will be determined based on the code (the same code always gives the same level).
The early waves of every level are typically low health monsters, and each later waves tend to have increased health and will sometimes have shields. You typically want to spend all the coins you have early on, keeping an eye on the types of monsters in the next wave. Arrows tend to be better against spiders and as a supplement to early anti-air defense. Cannons will take out beetles quickly, and are great for golems and assisting in spider killing. Anti-air towers take a bit to build, so don't wait until you have copters on the screen to put them up.
Fire and Laser towers tend to be the advanced towers of choice, due to their general usability. Mortars are also very good against bosses and on levels with lots of red shielded enemies. The order in which you purchase upgraded towers depends on the level and personal tastes. This game requires quite a bit of trial and error to figure out the best placement for towers and to learn the types of monsters to expect on each level.
Try to place towers where they have the most exposure. If the paths of monsters take them by the same place a few times, focus tower placement there. Due to the 2D nature of the game, towers have a greater range below the tower than above, so place cannons and other short-range towers on the top of paths as opposed to the bottom. Place lasers at the end or beginning of long straight stretches of path, so they can shoot down the entire line of air monsters.
Don't be disappointed if you can't rainbow some levels on the first try. Keep in mind that as you progress, you will unlock speed potion and mines, which are very useful. Mines are expensive to use, but are worth while if there is that one monster that keeps getting through.