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PixelJunk Monsters Encore details + interview

Deborah Mars's Avatar + Posted by Deborah Mars on Apr 29, 2008 // Managing Producer, SCEA Santa Monica Studio

Hey everyone,

We’re excited to be working with Dylan Cuthbert and Q-Games again on the upcoming release of PixelJunk Monsters Encore, a new expansion pack to the original game, which was released in late January 2008.

You may have recently read some previews of PJM Encore in a bunch of places. If you haven’t checked them out, here’s what 1UP, IGN, Gamespot, Crispy Gamer, and Gamespot (again!) had to say about it.

PixelJunk Monsters Encore

Of course we’re huge fans of all things Monsters, and totally biased about spreading the PixelJunk gospel but first, here’s a quick overview of some of the highlights in PixelJunk Monsters Encore:

  • 1 new island, Toki Island
  • 15 new levels
  • 5 new music tracks from Otograph
  • Ice Tower is now a stock item
  • Reduced gem cost to buy the Tesla Tower
  • Releasing in May 2008

PixelJunk Monsters Encore

We had loads of questions for Dylan and team, so we’re splitting this interview into two parts. Featured below are my top five burning questions for Dylan, and be sure to check back next week when SCE Associate Producer Matt Morton delivers the goods on the remaining five.

1. (Deb) How did you decide on the name for the expansion pack? Personally, you know we liked “PixelJunk Monsters: The Lost Island” or “PixelJunk Monsters: The Others”…we’re huge fans of the TV show Lost over here.

(Dylan) Heh heh. Yes I particularly liked “The Others” as I am a fan of Lost too…and am even signed up for that theories forum, 49153…whatever it’s called. However, we needed a name that could be understood in Japan as well, as we don’t like having a different title here, and Encore is understood by the Japanese (although it is pronounced “ahnkowlu”). Also, we wanted the name to reflect the fact that the reason we made this pack is because of the huge response we got from fans of the original, so Encore seemed particularly appropriate as it is what you shout at the end of a good concert etc, when you want just that *little bit more*.

2. (Deb) We get some fan mail here (thanks QA!), but we’re sure you get tons more. Can you spill the beans on what has been your most crazed fan mail to date? Anything PixelJunk juicy?

(Dylan) We’ve been getting a lot of fan mail every week. The bulk tends to arrive just after the weekend so I presume everybody is playing it non-stop during the weekend and they get back to work on Monday/Tuesday etc., feel the itch to play again but can’t, and then look up our mail address on the net. We haven’t had any crazy e-mails, but we’ve had lots of people suggest ideas for a sequel which is really cool. Also, we had a couple of mails about plasma tv burn-in, and rest-assured if we had known people would be playing this game the no. of hours people seem to be playing it then we would have discovered this problem. Therefore Encore and all future PixelJunk games will have an anti-burn option in the menu so as to prevent the PixelJunk logo being forever scarred into your TVs!

We get loads of mails from couples who are enjoying PixelJunk Monsters together. It’s surprising how RTS-like games (usually associated with war and destruction) appeal to both male and female alike, perhaps they even appeal more to women?

3. (Deb) Are the rumors true about your need to make this expansion pack? Was your marriage really in jeopardy if you didn’t turn around a quick XP?

(Dylan) Haha, no, not at all…but my wife simply loved the game so much she would badger me every day for more levels, so in the end I caved in. Of course, we were also getting mails every day from people asking for more so we simply decided to listen to everyone!

4. (Deb) What is your favorite map in PJM Encore & why?

(Dylan) Racer Gardens, because the rough layout is based on a track in PixelJunk Racers and it is a really tough map to beat, but really enjoyable once you learn the patterns. (Hint: The big guys always cross the bridges!)

The secret for the all-clear is rather superb, too, but of course we want the first real player to get there to spill the beans on that one.

5. (Deb) What was the inspiration for the unique and charming art style?

(Dylan) Well, our lead designer on the project, Andy Palmer, came up with some weird red riding hood style pics of a forest with a little girl in a hood and wolves in a kind of Sabre Wulf looking game (Sabre Wulf is an old game Rare made for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 in Britain back in the 80s), but it also had hints of the SNES version of Zelda. Let’s ask Andy himself.

(Andy) Originally we were just throwing around game ideas on the company BBS. I was making concept images to illustrate how the games might look and as Dylan mentioned, one of the images I made was of a simple multiplayer game inspired by Red Riding Hood, which was set in a forest. When it was later decided that we were going to be making a tower defense game, Dylan said he liked the style of the forest image and from then it became the basis for the rest of the game’s look. Initially I didn’t really want to go in that direction because I didn’t really have any character design or 2D game experience, but Dylan encouraged me to stick with it and I’m glad I did. Not only did the game end up looking good, but I was also able to use a graphics tablet instead of a mouse for several months, which helped my arms recover from RSI :)

(Dylan) So I suppose those two games were subtle inspirations for the style, but then Andy took it all and slowly transformed it into the whole southern tropical island WikiTiki type thing and we ran with it. The monsters have all been animated by those weird witch-masks they are wearing, but underneath those masks they are probably all friendly folk you would invite around for tea.

(Deb) Very cool, and we should mention that Andy created some really amazing new themes, wallpapers and avatars so keep your eyes open on the PS Store for these very soon.


We’re going a bit long here so we’ll pick this back up again next week for the continuation of our interview. Five more questions and answers, plus a few more details about the expansion that you simply won’t want to miss.

//Add Your Own

43 Comments

1

+ subbed on April 29th, 2008 at 10:03 am said:

Only thing I could ask for is some online coop on this. Game is addictive and harder than it looks. Cant wait for the next in the pixelJunk series.


2

+ Kazammm on April 29th, 2008 at 10:20 am said:

Sweet, I beat PJM and really loved it. Encore looks pretty sweet. I will definitely check it out. :)


3

+ ftwrthtx on April 29th, 2008 at 10:22 am said:

How about a tru PSP version of the game? I know it can be played via remote play, and that’s cool (wish there was more games that could), but I’d love to have this to play when I have no wifi available.


4

+ skygod on April 29th, 2008 at 10:22 am said:

This should be a call-out to all developers: co-op is the key.

My wife and I really enjoyed getting all the rainbows (with no outside help).

I may not tell my wife about encore until I can get through GTA though. :-)

Seriously though, can’t wait to download this one.


5

+ tuaamin13 on April 29th, 2008 at 10:23 am said:

My girlfriend and I enjoy the game a lot. I can’t wait for the expansion!

What about adjustable difficulty, or new max tower levels? That’d be cool if there was like a “Challenging mode” where either towers cost more or the all the monsters got +HP, or starting off with the upgraded monsters (idk the term, they have double health as the basic) but your tower starts off at yellow instead of green.

If you guys do a sequel, I’d love for some bonus content or something for owning/beating the first one.


6

+ wyldekat on April 29th, 2008 at 10:41 am said:

YES!!!!!!

add me

PSN= wyldekat


7

+ Cpt.blue on April 29th, 2008 at 10:44 am said:

You could NEVER run too long on a PJM post.

Online Coop FTW, pour favor!

I <3 PJM!


8

+ Forbidden_Darkness on April 29th, 2008 at 10:54 am said:

PixelJunk monsters is awesome! i cant wait for the expansion! i also cant wait for your new PixelJunk games! (Eden and Dungeons!!!) simple and amazing games like these are what makes PSN the best!

PSN games im looking forward to:
Echochrome
elephunk
PJ monsters encore
PJ Eden
PJ Dungeons
flOwer
Rat Race (whens this suppose to be coming out anyways?)
and many more…


9

+ B1ack_Mage on April 29th, 2008 at 10:55 am said:

I really loved the demo (but no PSN cards, mean I can’t buy it). I will be sure to get it as soon as the cards come out (I thought they were in “transit” sony? I haven’t seen them anywhere)


10

+ leetfoo on April 29th, 2008 at 11:04 am said:

This quickly became one of my favorite games of All time, particularly for co-op with the wife… We can’t wait for Encore.

My only beef is NA getting delays on the releases… JP had this last week! They had the original game for multiple weeks before we did. I just can’t take the waiting!


11

+ Ramage on April 29th, 2008 at 11:07 am said:

Aw man, I swear I remembered them saying it would be released in April. Oh well, at least now I won’t be ranting on the update Thursday about how I want more PJMonsters. Thnx 4 the intvw.


12

+ chasegamez on April 29th, 2008 at 11:09 am said:

why not just add custom sound tracks
like a few other psn games


13

+ Jeigh on April 29th, 2008 at 11:13 am said:

To @9

The PSN Cards ARE out. If you can’t find them, that’s a different story.

I absolutely love this game, but I really don’t think online co-op would work wel with this type of game. It’s best to have someone right there with you. I’m definitely looking forward to this expansion, but I’d really like to hear about the next game you guys are working on. :D

PS I agree with Cpt. Blue (#7): you simply cannot ramble on too long about this. More! :P


14

+ ISEMAN on April 29th, 2008 at 11:16 am said:

Are these 2 changes retroactive to the first game? Like a patch?

-Ice Tower is now a stock item

-Reduced gem cost to buy the Tesla Tower


15

+ StalkingSilence on April 29th, 2008 at 11:41 am said:

The english at the beginning is misleading: “the upcoming release of PixelJunk Monsters Encore, a new expansion pack to the original game, which was released in late January 2008.”
should say “the upcoming release of PixelJunk Monsters Encore, a new expansion pack to the original game which was released in late January 2008.”

The second comma makes it seem like the expansion pack was released then. Anyway, I will be buying this! That game rules. I haven’t finished even the medium levels yet – but I love it.


16

+ jcasanova on April 29th, 2008 at 11:41 am said:

Great!! I have been waiting for psn cards to purchase this game, I hope there is a special discounted price when purchasing both!

It could be great if cooperative gameplay was for 4 players and enemy waves were “lord of the rings-massive” haha


17

+ StalkingSilence on April 29th, 2008 at 11:42 am said:

update – i am probably wrong so hope you didn’t find my comment rude. just making sure new users understand and the rest of your post makes it clear that the new encore pack is going to be released soon.
again, my apologies if i seemed rude.


18

+ gardea on April 29th, 2008 at 12:03 pm said:

Great, but how about some online co-op?


19

+ mtrevino on April 29th, 2008 at 12:09 pm said:

I just wanted to add my $0.02 that the girlfriend and I love PJ Monsters. “Love” is probably and understated word too, maybe “unhealthy obsession” is a better phrase. We’ve played a lot of “hardcore” games together, but Monsters just has the right balance of fun and challenge and always gets some plays when we’re together.

I’ve forward this post to her, she’s been asking me about Encore for weeks now… we may have to take a full day off from work to play through it and then a second time for all the rainbows.

But yes, more co-op games would be great… PNS games or otherwise.


20

+ stlthriot on April 29th, 2008 at 12:19 pm said:

I’m curious as to whether this expansion will have a bundle with the original as well or only sold separately?

Great game! Have only played the demo so far. :)


21

+ mtrevino on April 29th, 2008 at 12:24 pm said:

@ comment 19

Jeez, I meant to say “PSN games or otherwise.” She also thought the echochrome demo was interesting, and I’m looking forward to try Elefunk as well. Hard to believe that GTA 4 may be sidelined by these games in the future.


22

+ JamesL007 on April 29th, 2008 at 12:29 pm said:

How about a price tag for this expansion pack??

I read the whole article and found not a word on how much it will cost.

I loved PixelJunk Monsters after the demo I soon brought the game the same day, is fun and the music is rich, which is why I gave it a 9/10 review on TripleTags.com.

But still the price,,,,


23

+ DankandSticky on April 29th, 2008 at 12:38 pm said:

Please let this be next week.. my GF is killing me..


24

+ Daver on April 29th, 2008 at 12:53 pm said:

Woot! i kept looking on the internet for the date of the release of the expansion lol but unfortunetly no one knows, i guess it will be in your next post next week.. thats too bad i would have love to get it this week :(
Anyway, very great game, looking forward to the expansion!


25

+ Prolo on April 29th, 2008 at 1:11 pm said:

Cant wait for this!!! It really has been a great game for me to play with my wife, we enjoy it tons. I also like the idea of the online co-op as well. Just wanted to say thanks to the team for the great work and continuing to give us new content. This better not be the last island we get!


26

+ Chrisrahosiris on April 29th, 2008 at 1:14 pm said:

Can’t wait for this. I will get it day and date on release.


27

+ RandomEarthling on April 29th, 2008 at 1:30 pm said:

I love this game. I recently started doing co-op and it’s like whole new game. I’m glad to see the update will be coming next month.


28

+ subbed on April 29th, 2008 at 1:33 pm said:

Per the Pixeljunk newsletter the expected date is May 8th. Two more weeks after that for EU


29

+ marvelmanson on April 29th, 2008 at 1:48 pm said:

Any chance of a PSP version? Please?


30

+ nabokovfan87 on April 29th, 2008 at 1:49 pm said:

how will the expansion effect the original game? will it change the costs and stock towers in the original island?


31

+ Stinkin Mushroom on April 29th, 2008 at 3:15 pm said:

GREATEST GAME EVER.. I Just finished rainbowing all of the stages ( Hard 2 is the coolest one..!) and can’t wait to get some more, I hope it will come out soon in Europe!

Thank you very much Q Games! can’t wait for your future titles as well


32

+ sourpk on April 29th, 2008 at 3:18 pm said:

The ice tower and tesla cost is only affected on the new island.

Check out my impression of Encore. (hint I’ve unlocked the special ending) over at my website: http://www.sourpk.com


33

+ APaz on April 29th, 2008 at 4:03 pm said:

Wow more levels. I have a tough time getting through the current ones. =/


34

+ djroberts on April 29th, 2008 at 5:23 pm said:

I’m stoked. I’m more excited about the xpack than I am about MGS4. Just barely though ;)

All joking aside this is one of my favorite games for consoles right now. Very fun, challenging. I wish there were some reward for rainbowing all the levels.


35

+ wizardpsp on April 29th, 2008 at 5:53 pm said:

cool


36

+ terminatorvsmtrx on April 29th, 2008 at 9:01 pm said:

this game is sick i cant wait for this


37

+ Logan_sony on April 30th, 2008 at 7:41 am said:

I wish that there were new towers and powers that you could get. I would really like at least 1 new power and a couple new towers.


38

+ OverlordLaharl on April 30th, 2008 at 8:08 am said:

Can’t wait for this! I have played soooo much with my brother and GF! Best psn game ever!


39

+ thexder@insightbb.com on April 30th, 2008 at 10:14 am said:

Is there any possibility that we’ll see these characters in a different game genre? Perhaps a platform game in the vain of Skullmonkeys or Oddworld.


40

+ seiven on April 30th, 2008 at 10:47 am said:

WOOHOO I cannot wait, this is an awesome game, but will the new ice tower being stock effect the original levels?

it could be easier to get certain rainbows then.


41

+ famousmortimer on April 30th, 2008 at 10:41 pm said:

It’s definitely too late for this suggestion to be put in effect for this expansion (and heck, maybe it is in there)… but I really, really, really, really wish there was a level that had no end, it just kept bringing wave after wave after wave that got harder.

Most of the net/flash based tower defense games are setup in this way, it’s just wave after wave. It was great fun because you could just post on a message board “I got to wave 64″ and then someone else is like “I got 73!!” and they would post a screencap or something.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the game, I played and finished it in short order ( I am a huge fan of the genre) and went back and got most of the rainbows (some were just too hard). But then I felt like I was done with it. Now, if there was just one level… just one(!) level that was neverending and I could aways just try to make it a little bit past my previous high score, I would still be playing it everyday.

Just some food for thought for the next expansion (which you better make! Us PJM fans are rabid and want more more more!).


Deborah Mars's Avatar

42

+ Dylan Cuthbert on April 30th, 2008 at 11:34 pm said:

Hello everyone, just thought I’d butt in and say thanks for all the support!

We really enjoyed making Monsters and Encore and it sounds like everyone is enjoying playing it too – even though it is quite a tough game (but hey, if it wasn’t tough it wouldn’t be so satisfying! Remember that the next time that boss monster is chomping on your little saplings!). :-)

Also, if you’d like to join the PixelJunk series newsletter then e-mail us at pixeljunk@q-games.com and we’ll add you to it.


43

+ Hellblazer on May 4th, 2008 at 2:26 pm said:

Good stuff, will be getting the expansion for sure. In fact just the other day I bought PJ: Racers purely based on how good PJM turned out and I can say that was a wise decision cause it’s incredibly good fun. Keep up the good work, looking forward to future PJ stuff.

BTW, in the original PJM there is a bug where the screen becomes garbled for a split second seemingly at random intervals. I know it’s not my TV cause i’ve tested this on 2 other PS3′s and i’m getting the same glitch via remote play on my PSP screen. Was this fixed in the update?


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