PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD is the newest iteration of the popular PlayStation Network tower-defense game that was ported to the PlayStation Portable. Does this version of the game have enough going for it to warrant a purchase on the PlayStation Vita? Or does it ultimately fail to enthuse?

If you've played PixelJunk Monsters before and thought it was just OK, then you can move on. If you've played it before, thought it was awesome, and would like to do it all over again, but this time with added touch controls, then you might be interested in this version. But if you've never, ever played PixelJunk Monsters before, own a Vita and love tower-defense games, then drop whatever you're doing, grab this from the PlayStation Store and get to defending.

PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD is a simple game in which you take on the role of Tikiman and fight to defend your forest and offspring from the threat of encroaching monsters. To that end, you can run around maps and transform trees into different towers, each with their own unique capabilities. For example, you can place towers that shoot arrows at everything, towers that shoot cannonballs at ground forces, and anti-air towers for monsters that take to the skies.

Placing these towers costs you coins. Luckily, each time you defeat a monster, it explodes into coins and you can continue building up your defenses. Every now and then, a monster will drop a little green gem, which you can then use to upgrade your existing towers so that they are stronger. This is nothing out of the ordinary for a tower defense game. But you can also choose to use those green gems to go back to your home base and research new towers to use in the field. This adds to the strategic nature of the game, since you can either bolster your defenses or leave them weaker, but with more variety.

Controlling Tikiman is simple and allows you to maneuver around the field quickly in order to place towers. The pacing is quick and you're given very little time between waves to catch your breath and prepare for the next attack. Luckily, the menus that allow you to place towers are quick and efficient, letting you bring up a radial menu when you select a tree that lets you easily scroll through the different available towers.

In multiplayer mode, you can also use a radial menu to communicate with others. This menu allows you to place up to five different icons in order to relay your message. It's fun to come up with different combinations of symbols to see if others can understand your meaning.

There's not much to say about PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD that hasn't already been said about PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate. It's basically the same game, except with touch controls. The graphics are as gorgeous and crisp as always, and the gameplay is exceptional, especially if you're a fan of the tower defense genre. The music is also wonderful, but perhaps too mellow, considering that you're slaying monsters en masse in order to protect your children.

The fast-paced nature of the game can exhilarate, but also infuriate, depending on your level of skill and plain ol' luck of the draw. You might find that you're effectively wiping out all incoming hordes of monsters at the very beginning, only to be met with a squad of flying monsters and without an anti-air gun tower in sight. You could start building one as fast as you can, but chances are that the monsters will just slip by and begin feasting on your offspring immediately. Them's the breaks, folks.

But, if you take the time to plan out your defense in advance, carefully deciding how to use your green gems and then note the pattern of the monsters, you'll come out on top in this crazy tower defense game. If you've played it before, there's not much that's new here to get you to come back. But if the experience will be fresh for you, definitely pick up this exceptional game and dive into the tower defense magic that is PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD.

This review is based on a digital copy of PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD for PlayStation Vita that was purchased for review.

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating