Showing posts with label tower defense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tower defense. Show all posts

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cloud Wars, Funkin' Defense, Echo Bullet

Today's Browser Rousers intake is somewhat cutesy, the third one aside - and even it can run the adorable gamut if your tastes are odd.

Cloud Wars


Ever wonder why clouds move around so much? It's simple - they're colour-coded in ways we cannot perceive from the ground, and that pisses them off. Wars happen when skin colours are different, y'know. Cloud Wars is all about controlling the most clouds, and you control them by sending smaller clouds out to take over enemy cumuli, rather like parasites. It's a simple game, perhaps not as nice as other games in the same genre, but I do like the upgrade system.

Funkin' Defense


The vile Gorliks seek to conquer your forest. YOUR FOREST. Put them down for good with a variety of towers, some items, and the power of funk. Funkin' Defense is kinda neat in that music helps determine the strength of your attacks, and you can change up that strength by changing up the music. There's less variety in that statement than it sounds, but it brings so variety to an otherwise par-for-the-course tower defense game.

Echo Bullet


No upgrades, no super-fancy graphics, no sprawling levels, just good old fashioned one-on-one bullet hell action. Your primary mission here is to avoid the countless waves of incoming enemy fire while firing back non-stop. This is an excellent game for practicing your bullet hell techniques. Players who get easily confused should probably look elsewhere.

And now, I hunger for food. I will continue to feed until Wednesday, when next we meet again. Ciao!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pokemon Tower Defense

It's pretty common for Flash game designers to use existing graphics in their games. Hell, it's common for Flash users PERIOD to use existing graphics. The Pokemon series, with its colourful little sprites and overall high reputation, is one of the most-exploited brand names in this regard. Type in 'pokemon' in Newgrounds' search bar and you'll get hundreds of games and videos using these sprites.
And, uh, most of 'em are pretty bad. That's another characteristic of sprite-stealers: they seldom put a lot of effort into their work.

It is thus with the greatest bewilderment that I express affection for Pokemon Tower Defense, a game that blatantly steals hundreds of sprites from the Pokemon series. As a semi-ugly clone, this title should NOT be anywhere near as popular as it is... but... I just can't stop playing the stupid thing.





Concept

The title says it all. Pokemon Tower Defense is a tower defense game featuring pokemon. Each level takes place on a route or in a gym, taken from the game (though redesigned), and you place your various pokemon as 'towers' to defend piles of resources. Typically these are Rare Candies, which play a prominent role in the plot, though other things occasionally take the spotlight. Sounds familiar.

That's where the Pokemon part comes in. Unlike most tower defense games, the towers here are highly customizable. The various pokemon each have four moves, like the game, and they learn more as they level up. You can swap between these moves in-game, resulting in a variety of different effects that will help you defend your stash of candies. You can also move pokemon around in the midst of battle, allowing for some fairly in-depth strategic play.

Also? Evolutions. And TMs. And trading. And secret gifts. And tons of other stuff, all taken from the Pokemon games and slotted into a tower defense title. You can play this game for HOURS and hardly scratch the surface, I kid you not.



Controls

Mouse. Not much else to say.


Graphics

Most of the visuals are pilfered from the Pokemon games, with only a scant few things (mostly in the menus) capable of claiming to be wholly original - and those are fairly uninspired Flash fare. Most of the sprites are larger than they should be, as well, so... on the whole... Pokemon Tower Defense is
kinda ugly.




Sound

Stolen from the game. The tunes don't sound quite right when they're not heard through the tinny speakers of a GameBoy.


Challenge Rating

Strategic or not, Pokemon Tower Defense is like most RPGs: levels are king. Once your pokemon get strong enough, they can stonewall just about everything. There are a few stages that require more thought and inventive use of moves, but time and proper pokemon choices will wear 'em down in the end.

There is one SIGNIFICANT problem in regards to challenge that irks the hell out of me: the saving system. Unlike most browser games, Pokemon Tower Defense forces you to create an online profile to save your games. This is nifty in that it allows you to make trades, but it also doesn't save automatically between battles. I've also noticed that saving doesn't always work when done MANUALLY, and I've twice lost my progress because something decided to fuck up. This wouldn't irk me so much if that didn't mean losing, say, over an hour of progress.

GRRRR.

Needless to say, the saving system needs a lot of work. It's the main reason I don't have screenshots from LATER in the game, because my advanced teams keep getting wiped from existence.




Conclusion?


Fun, fun, fun. Part of me feels like I shouldn't enjoy Pokemon Tower Defense as much as I do. I tend to prefer original creations, as pilfered properties smack of laziness. This game, though... it captures the core elements of the series, distilling them into a thoroughly-playable experience that's easy to learn yet difficult to master.

Especially with the saving system the way it is. (Though maybe it's just me. GRRRR.)

PLAT POKEMON TOWER DEFENSE

Monday, June 4, 2012

Villainous - Tower Attack

With all the tower defense games available that force you to fend off enemy troops, I'm surprised it took so long for tower ATTACK games to sprout up. But they have, as of sometime last year, and one of the best of 'em is Villainous. It may be a little short, but Villainous is a great game.


Concept

Just look at the title and you'll have a good grasp of what's going on here. You, a cruel magician, want to rule the world. The world isn't so keen on that, so its inhabitants have penned themselves up in fortified cities, using their defensive towers to keep your troops out. Sound familiar? But in reverse?

Yep. That's Villainous. You're the OTHER side of the tower defense equation: you need to deploy troops on a set track and watch as they raid an enemy town. Get enough goblins into the town and you can move on to the next level. Use infamy (the game's currency) to buy upgrades for your troops, as well as purchase new and deadly magical powers.

At first glance, Villainous doesn't sound or seem all that original. And, hell, it's not THAT original once you start playing. Other games have done basically the same thing. What sets Villainous apart is its close attention to balance: it's not disgustingly hard, but the content does increase in difficulty steadily enough that you'll have a rough ride reaching the end. What's more - and I appreciate this most about the game - virtually every unit and spell you get will help you in the end. You don't see that very often in tower games.


Controls

Mouse and hot keys. I noticed during slowdown moments that spells didn't go off when triggered, but those moments were rare.

Graphics

Villainous doesn't stand out visually, nor does it insult the senses. I found it comparable to Warcraft 2, what with all the medieval towers and orcs and all, but a bit cleaner.


Also, my castle is awesome.

Sound

Villainous' music is very understated. Unless you jack up the volume you probably won't even notice it in the background. I didn't feel particularly guilty when I shut off the sound and listened to something else.


Challenge Rating

At least to an extent, Villainous encourages failure. You NEED to upgrade to survive some levels, and you earn more infamy when your troops are killed. Expect to repeat maps several times before you earn gold and finish 'em off for good.

Overall, though? Villainous isn't that bad. Like I said before, it's balanced. The learning curve is far from steep, and the upgrades are more than sufficient to cover some of the later challenges - so long as you keep an eye on your game. You can't just let your troops run through the circuit of towers over and over without casting spells each round.

Conclusion?

Though it doesn't strike me as the most original game I've ever played, Villainous is a success. It's a great combination of resource allocation and tactics, and should keep most players busy for at least a few hours.

PLAY VILLAINOUS - TOWER ATTACK

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Battle Panic

Browser-based games represent something of a conundrum for the enterprising development company, as they are typically viewed as freebies. You don't pay for browser games. You log on, you play, you enjoy, you clench your coin purse tightly shut. That's the way it works.

And why? Because the Internet is free. It's a weird beast that's generated a massive base of users who expect free content. This doesn't WORK for the enterprising development company, and, thus, games like Battle Panic appear, games which appear on the surface to be without charge.

Don't be fooled. If you want to COMPLETELY best Battle Panic, unless you are an AMAZING player, you will have to fork out some dough.


Concept

All is not well in the world, and it's aaaaaall thanks to orcs. Yep, those red and green bastards are out to cause mischief, spreading grief and sorrow to everyone in their path. It's up to you, a commander among the humans, to kill the northern and southern tribes of orcs and restore peace to the land.

So, in effect, genocide. But defensive genocide. That's not so bad, right?

Battle Panic is a defensive RTS. You're given control of a settlement in each level, and you need to protect your villagers by deploying men-at-arms in three different flavours: footmen, archers, and horsemen. As you mine resources from nearby gold mines and the surrounding forests you can create progressively stronger units, as well as upgrading your settlement into a full-blown castle.

Sounds familiar. Sounds downright generic. So what's the catch?


Controls

I'll tell you the catch: you NEVER have to click the mouse buttons. Ever. (Well, except on the map.) Battle Panic requires you to do nothing more than to hover your mouse over objects on the battlefield. Do so and the game will automatically set to work, either mining or building or creating units. Hell, you can even use your mouse cursor to heal friendlies or hurt baddies. It's a really cool idea, and great for lazy gamers.

Does it WORK? Yes, actually. Despite the fact that it's easy to accidentally spend resources on unwanted projects, Battle Panic's system is simple and reliable. I had no troubles doing what I wanted to do - aside from, perhaps, focusing on the right unit in the midst of thousands of other units.


Graphics

Battle Panic has the sorta soft-full-primary-colour-anime-esque visuals that I've come to expect from these games. I have no problem with that at all. Indeed, I'd say that Battle Panic is a slight step ABOVE similar games in terms of quality. The units don't look so hot close up, but from a distance everybody's just fine. I'm also rather amazed that the sheer number of units that appear in this game can do so, on the same battlefields, with almost no slowdown. Impressive.

Sound

Like other defense games, Battle Panic's music doesn't stand out. It's not quirky; it's not chipper; it's not particularly inventive. It's war music, the kind you'd hear in old movies based around sword combat, and easily forgotten.


Challenge Rating

This is the part of the review I'd been eagerly waiting to address. IS BATTLE PANIC HARD?

In one word: maybe. In two words: it depends.

On Normal mode, the compulsory beginning mode, Battle Panic is NOT hard. Not even CLOSE to hard. I went through the entire mode without a single orc getting close to the walls of my settlement. Sure, it can be tricky to earn three stars on every mission, but even THAT'S not terribly hard. Just build up a castle, make tons of troops, and kill. Simple!

Then you get into Hard mode. Hard mode allows you to carry over the stars from Normal mode, which are used to purchase upgrades. That's cool, that's nifty. I liked knowing that my abilities weren't going to vanish. And for the first six or so levels, I appreciated the big boost in difficulty. Hard mode lives up to its name.

That's when the orcs began to get numerous. TOO numerous. Like, so numerous that you don't really stand a chance in hell of beating them... unless you purchase extra upgrade stars. Or gold. Or wood. Or, hell, backup troops. These things can all be done really quickly, but they cost actual money.

After five tries on one level, I gave up. I couldn't beat the damned thing. I'm not sure that anyone could, given the resources available, and I'd be frightened to see what lies beyond. Knowing that I'd essentially been FORCED to pay money to proceed kinda pissed me off.

And I apologize for that! Really, I do. I know, first hand, how hard it is to make money online. Especially from gamers. We're a bunch of tight-fisted douchebags. We want as much bang for as little buck as humanly possible. In this case, though... sneaking money requirements in... it left a bad taste in my mouth. Especially since Battle Panic doesn't strike me as quite fun enough, or robust enough, to waste actual money on. Not when I could play a similar game elsewhere for free.


Conclusion?

Battle Panic is a fun game, and anyone who just wants to test the thing can see every level on Normal. It's a piece of cake gettin' through them all. I won't be purchasing extra gold to secure my settlements, however, and I doubt many other players will either.

PLAY BATTLE PANIC

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kill the Heroes

It's nice to see the bad guys get more of a spotlight in recent fiction. Yes, it's fun to uphold truth, justice and the American way and all that nonsense, but it's ALSO fun to trash the truth, thwart justice and spit on the American way.

(No offense, American readers. I'M not doing the spitting.)

Thus it is that Kill the Heroes, which is VERY aptly named, came into being. Guess what you wind up doing?


Concept

Kill the Heroes begins as an amnesiac awakens in a high-tech facility. Groggy and disoriented, he finds and dons a rather villainous-looking outfit that he assumes is his own. Soon after a bevy of heavily-armed heroes try to infiltrate the facility and kill him. Cue a tower defense game! You must defend Mastermind, who just wants to be left alone!

... and possibly to kill people! There's always a chance.

Kill the Heroes has a surprisingly well-developed storyline for a Flash game. Not in the sense that it's terribly deep or complex, but that it's consistent. Every level is introduced with some dialogue, used primarily to showcase new weapons or abilities, and there is some interaction between characters that's occasionally funny. My favourite part of the story bits by FAR were the captions on the 'Next Message' buttons, which were usually sarcastic and/or remarkably apathetic to Mastermind's plight.

Plot aside, Kill the Heroes is a tower defense game with a twist. The heroes walk along a set track in a pre-determined pattern. You must set up defensive turrets, drones and traps to kill them. Their destination is Mastermind, the bulbous-brained fellow at the top of this screenshot:


Mastermind can shoot back and take a decent amount of damage, but leaving him exposed is a bad idea. Thus the game also includes a set of teleporters which, at the cost of a bit of money, allow Mastermind to zip from place to place in a hurry. The end result is as much a tower defense game as it is a quasi-shooter. Interesting combination, and fun to play.


Controls

Got a mouse? You're set. Click on stuff. The menus are unobtrusive and respond to clicks, so controls should seldom ever be an issue. I played the whole thing on a laptop trackpad without difficulty.

Graphics

Kill the Heroes is kinda fifty-fifty on graphics:

- The characters are nifty. They don't move a hell of a lot, but I liked the chibi look. Mastermind himself is just about the goddamn weirdest-looking villain I've ever seen, and as a comic book fan, that's saying a lot.

- The backgrounds and environments are boring. The tracks all look the same. I don't know that variation would be appropriate to an industrial setting, but... bleh...

Final say? It looks okay. Not spectacular, not offensive. It's easy to keep characters and defenses sorted, which is probably the most important thing for tower defense.


Sound

The oratorical offering of this game is kinda bleh. There's one track throughout the majority of the game, a 'let's go kick some ass' tune that gets old after a while. Variety would be nice, but this is a free game so I won't complain too much, yadda yadda.

Challenge Rating

Kill the Heroes manages to hit a nice little difficulty sweet spot that's too high in some other tower defense games. It's challenging, but not impossibly so: the defenses and money provided are usually just enough to get you through a level with three stars. What's better, the game doesn't typically force you to use gadgets you'd rather avoid. All of them are useful throughout Kill the Heroes. And if you don't like how you upgraded your weaponry? No prob, you can reset your purchases.

That said, I found that upgrades made the game a little too easy. It's not that hard to earn stars for upgrades, and those upgrades - along with some proper placement - can shred enemies. The teleporter exacerbates this ease: for a rather paltry sum Mastermind can jump out of danger with little to no effort at all. In many cases it's just a matter of idly watching the heroes run the circuit, then hopping to another teleporter whenever they get too close. Whittle whittle whittle, success. Perhaps a cooldown time on the teleporter and applying upgrades would notch up the challenge?


Conclusion?

I think I may actually have pointed out more flaws than high points, so believe me when I contradict myself: Kill the Heroes is a lot of fun. Every level presents a new challenge... literally... and playing through the story is neither a chore nor ragequit-worthy. I recommend giving this villainous little game a chance.

PLAY KILL THE HEROES

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Antbuster

I have many vivid video game-related memories from when I was younger, and prominent among them was playing SimAnt. I find ants to be fascinating creatures, and the idea that I could control a colony of the little buggers tickled me pink. Still does - I've got a copy of SimAnt somewhere in the basement that still works just fine, with enough tinkering.

Antbuster isn't QUITE the same thing. But it's ants, so I'll forgive the lapse.


Concept

You, the innocent little human, have a piece of cake. And, as an innocent little human who's also a fool, you've placed said cake on the ground, within reach of a colony of voracious ants. They want that sweet, sweet sugar so badly that they're willing to rush out of their nest - in carefully-controlled waves, of course - to try and get the thing.

You COULD just pick up the cake and walk away. But, no, you'd rather defend it with a series of tiny, automated defensive turrets. Thus is born another tower defense game. The logic is infallible, folks.

So, yeah. Keep ants away from cake. Score points, get money, upgrade turrets. Maybe buy more. I said yesterday that I hadn't come across a turret defense game featuring a round trip mechanic, and it figures that I discover just such a thing twenty four hours later. Ah, life.


Controls

Antbuster is controlled entirely by mouse, and the mouse works fine. No issues with clicking. I will point out that the ability to choose specific targets for your towers was a FANTASTIC feature.

Graphics

Antbuster was created about five years ago, if memory serves, so I won't be too harsh on the graphics. They aren't bad, but they're not amazing, either - and understandably so, as ants aren't terribly complex-looking from a bird's eye view. The visuals do the job.


Sound

Antbuster uses the same musical track throughout the game, and it's a lazy day percussive-and-horn number that suits the subject... though the quality of it is a little meh. Beyond that Antbuster utilizes a series of little snickers whenever ants manage to grab a piece of cake, which are mildly amusing.

Challenge Rating

The difficulty level of Antbuster is its primary weakness. This game is, for the most part, a little too easy.

Despite the fact that you can't really guide the ants down long tunnels of turrets, owing to the steep purchase prices for towers and upgrades, you won't have any trouble keep the little bastards away from your cake. The primary reason for this is the ants' programming, which simulates their occasionally nonsensical movements across the ground: the ants in this game look quite genuine in how they scurry about, often moving from side to side in seemingly random patterns.

This does sound like a plus, yes, but it's a negative on the difficulty for a good reason: the ants are idiots. They typically take a long time to reach the cake, because they're busy running in different directions, and when they DO reach the sugary oasis they often don't go straight back to their nest. Hell, I saw ants get back to home base and then turn around to return to the plate, WITH CAKE IN THEIR MOUTHS, on several occasions. That's pretty stupid, folks.


Conclusion?

Despite the lack of difficulty and the stripping-away of some of the genre's complexity, Antbuster is actually a pretty good tower defense game. I'd peg it as a perfect choice for people looking to cut their teeth on other, similar titles, 'cause compared to most such games, this one's a cake walk. Badum-chssh.

PLAY ANTBUSTER

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Robots vs. Zombies

It has been a little while since I played a game involving tower defense... or zombies... or both combined, which I suppose would be NEVER... so now's a good a time as any. Robots vs. Zombies? Robots vs. Zombies.


Concept

The title more or less gives the concept away in this case. You, the robot, must stop the zombies, who are on their way to pick up some delicious energy cores. There you go, folks - that just about covers the plot of Robots vs. Zombies.

And, hey, who needs a plot in a tower defense game? The objective is obvious enough: stop those bastards from getting through. It's a familiar concept, though I will admit that the zombie need to both pick up the cores and carry them away again is something I haven't seen in a tower defense game. If nothing else, the round trip gives you some extra chances to fire on your enemies.

With what? Well, towers, obviously. Beyond that, though, you also have a nice little mech running ops, and when you're not laying down towers you can guide it around to provide some extra firepower. Not enough to stop entire waves, mind, but it's a nice touch, and one that reminds me of The Engineer. (Though in that case the robots were the bad guys. It's all a matter of perspective, folks.)


Controls

Familiar fare, here. WASD guides your robot, the mouse lays down and upgrades towers with a few clicks. A goodly combination, and the mouse works fine.

... but the keyboard is a little screwy. Not TOO screwy, but I did have trouble making my robot stop every now and then. Given that the robot provides a lot less cover than the turrets this isn't a big issue, but it's still something that could be addressed.

Graphics

Robots vs. Zombies is a tad generic visually, but it sports a layer of appreciable polish. The mechs look good, the towers look good, and the zombies... well, they look like zombies. There's plenty of variety in the beasties, one element in which a lot of tower defense games suffer - there's repetition, but variety in that repetition (particularly when two enemy types come blended). Not top notch originality, but more than sufficient for any professional game.


Sound

Techno beats. Repetitive techno beats. Not a fan, even if they are suitable to the game.

Challenge Rating

Given that you can adjust the difficulty, and that the game is pretty bloody hard as it is on Normal, Robots vs. Zombies is likely to keep all but the most seasoned tower defense players happy for many long hours. The zombie waves are merciless from the start, and it'll probably take you a while to determine what skills (yes, you can buy skills) and tower combinations best work with your style of play.

There is, however, one problem when it comes to difficulty in this game: it is buggy. I experienced no less than three total game lockouts while playing, and on other occasions the zombies would make it through the exit gate with the last cores, spelling me to doom - only the game wouldn't end. Subsequent waves would stand idly at the door with nothing to do, and I could blow them away at my leisure, providing I had towers close to the door already (further building was not an option). Once or twice in a several-hour session might be excusable, but this happened every two or three maps.

Should I complain when bugs kinda work in my favour? Probably not. Doesn't make for a terribly attractive package, though, when difficult levels are easy to conquer by virtue of technical problems.


Conclusion?

Robots vs. Zombies is a borderline generic tower defense game with more depth than the average title, and an equal number of bugs to match. Fix this game up and strip away the rather blatant similarity to Plants Vs. Zombies (really, name it something else) and you'll have a winner.

PLAY ROBOT VS. ZOMBIES

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kingdom Rush

Of all the gaming genres that online play has more or less created, few are quite so infamous or frustrating as tower defense games. They're tons of fun, sure, but you usually get thwomped in the end no matter how good you are.

Kingdom Rush is, I think, an attempt to get around that fact by introducing a more balanced tower defense experience. And, for the most part, it's pretty successful - though it's also still damn hard.


Concept

Kingdom Rush is the tale of a kingdom under siege. Monsters are emerging from all nooks and crannies of the globe, and they're bent on bringing civilization down. Hard. Your job is to protect the weak and helpless from these marauding bastards utilizing a combination of towers, troops and well-wielded mysticism. The story is surprisingly extensive, though because it's set up purely in text you'll probably ignore all of the lore. A shame, but, shrug.

So, yeah, Kingdom Rush a tower defense game. Construct your towers, kill oncoming enemies as they wind their way down predetermined paths. What sets Kingdom Rush apart from other such titles, however - at least for me, perhaps I'm just behind the times - is that you have troops. You can create towers that deploy little soldiers who will rush out and engage the enemy, complete with life bars of their own. In this sense Kingdom Rush is a little bit RTS, though not so much that you'll ever forget the primary genre.

Does this troop deployment inclusion work? Absolutely. Though you don't have nearly as much control over your men as you would in a traditional RTS, the ability to lead troops around their tower and engage enemies who have otherwise escaped is an excellent idea. If nothing else it breaks up the sometimes monotonous nature of tower defense games.


Controls

Point and click. There's really nothing to be said about Kingdom Rush's controls other than they work.

Graphics

Kingdom Rush boasts relatively pretty graphics. Each level looks different from the last, and the deeper you get into the kingdom the more the backgrounds change, moving from lush greenery to winter fields to hideous wastelands. I'm glad the programmers saw fit to shift the layout significantly, giving the game a sense of progress and depth that suits the back story.

I am not, however, terribly wowed by the units themselves. Because Kingdom Rush can have so many units on the screen at once, they're all really, really tiny, and consequently there's almost no detail to any of 'em. You have a general sense of what you're looking at, and that's about it. Hardly offensive, and probably practical given the scope of the enemy armies, but... what can I say? It's a visually basic game.


Sound

Kingdom Rush's music doesn't bowl me over, as it consists of the usual dramatic, epic medieval stuff I've heard a billion times before in video games, movies, television shows and so on. It's good for what it is, though, and doesn't get overly repetitive or tiresome, since it just kinda fades into the background while you're playing. No big complaints.

What I DID appreciate sound-wise was the voiceovers. Kingdom Rush's units talk, and they talk often - and the voice actors are actually pretty good at what they do. The dialogue is relatively clever, and everything sounds crisp and spot-on appropriate to the setting. Any browser game willing to go this distance to snag fans is A-OK in my book.


Challenge Rating

Here's the kicker. Does Kingdom Rush fit into its genre? Is it a difficult game?

In a word, yes. In four words, more or less, yes.

Kingdom Rush isn't quite a beginner's introduction to the tower defense genre, nor is it hard enough to stand toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. It is a happy medium, a game that gets gradually harder and harder at a steady pace that the average gamer will surely appreciate. I sure as hell do, for though I have experience with tower defense games, I'm no expert.

The only thing that bugged me, given my work schedule, is how long it can take to play. The enemy units are pretty bloody slow as they wind around the map. This is out of pure necessity, as too hectic a pace would make the game near impossible, but an option to speed up the frame rate during moments of sure victory would've been nice.


Conclusion?

Good game! Kingdom Rush is a good game. It has a few niggling flaws here and there, but they're not nearly enough to detract from the experience as a whole. I highly recommend Kingdom Rush for tower defense fans, especially if you're willing to sink some cash into a browser title - there's more than enough robustness padding Kingdom Rush's game play to warrant dropping a few dollars for the premium content.

PLAY KINGDOM RUSH

Monday, December 5, 2011

Leave Cthulhu Alone

I've never quite understood why, but Cthulhu, ancient lord of the deep, swallower of all life, is an Internet sensation. He's in comics, movies, TV shows... he even has his own Munchkin expansion pack and stuffed doll. Is there anything Cthulhu can't do?

Well, there is one: he can't get people to leave him alone. Cthulhu's a popular extraplanar entity, and in this case for all the wrong reasons - and his devoted follower is having a hell of a time of bringing the creature onto this mortal plane, because people just won't leave him alone.


Concept

Leave Cthulhu Alone is a tower defense game. Playing as Cthulhu you need to protect your worshiper from an unending stream of disruptive people: cops, detectives, mystics, professors, madmen, even other cultists who want to summon Cthulhu first. To do this you need to mutate the oncoming enemies using Cthulhu's black magic, turning them into (usually stationary) defensive posts that will attack other enemies. Cthulhu can only mutate an enemy once his power bar is filled up, either through time or violence between your defenses and the baddies, so strategic thinking is needed to protect the follower in the rear of the house.


The concept is more or less pulled from popular depictions of Cthulhu and his followers. What makes the game enjoyable is that it lampoons these stories, turning Cthulhu into an impatient, slightly sarcastic deity and his follower a whiny little do-nothing. Those personalities, combined with tons of silly references and funny writing, make Leave Cthulhu Alone truly ridiculous - which, needless to say, is perfect for a Flash game on the subject.

Controls

The controls on Leave Cthulhu Alone are nice and basic. You're represented by an arcane symbol on the ground which you can move back and forth under enemies and through the four rooms of the house. Hit space below an enemy and you'll mutate them into your own crony. Use 1, 2, 3 or 4 to instantly warp from one room to the next to keep track of all the enemies who are tromping towards your follower. Very easy to learn, and never problematic.


Graphics

I'll be perfectly frank. The colour scheme on Leave Cthulhu Alone is ugly, what with the combination of bright green and purple. That said, it's exactly the kind of weird, ugly alien that you'd expect from such a quirky title, so this isn't a complaint.

Beyond that? It looks okay. The sprites aren't terribly detailed, but the animations are slick and the house looks creepily pretty. I found myself thinking of old Lucasarts games like Maniac Mansion while playing Leave Cthulhu Alone, especially when the little professors got all bloated.


Yep. Best units in the game.

Sound

The music, if you can call it music, is the weakest element in Leave Cthulhu Alone. Don't get me wrong, it's appropriate, but the spooky walking-down-an-empty-hall-in-a-horror-film tone that plays consistently gets old real fast. I've no doubt the programmer knew that, as well, since there's a handy mute button in plain sight.


Challenge Rating

Leave Cthulhu Alone is tricky, but not impossible. Unlike a lot of other tower defense games you don't play until you die; you just get through successive levels that become harder and harder. The side-scrolling nature of the game makes this much easier than normal, though, and the enemies always act in the same fashion, so puzzling out solutions becomes fairly easy. A bit less repetition probably would've helped jack up both the challenge rating and the interest factor in Leave Cthulhu Alone.

Conclusion?

Overall? Not bad. Leave Cthulhu Alone is not a revolutionary blockbuster. I don't think it was meant to be, either - it's just a joke wrapped in a solid, fun game. Performing the same duties in the same rooms over and over gets boring, true, but it's a funny enough game to warrant trying to beat the whole thing. Recommended.

PLAY LEAVE CTHULHU ALONE

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Engineer

Browser games are not typically known for eating up system resources, at least not on newer computers. That's one of the nice things ABOUT browser games, as most people with a 'net connection and Flash Player can play games whenever they like.

The Engineer... is not so friendly in that area. Though it's still pretty good!



Concept

The Engineer tells the violent tale of Zach Scrap, a burly mechanic-type facing off against hordes of robotic monstrosities, all bent on bringing his life to a grisly end. Why? No idea, because, sadly, I couldn't get the campaign mode to work. The menu refuses to access it, or the map editor, at least for me - and judging by the comments on the game, a lot of people are having similar difficulties with The Engineer. (At least I got to play the thing. I downloaded Flash Player 11 and it helped.)

Anyway. The skirmishing single player, map rating mode works for me, so I have a solid grasp of the game play: The Engineer is a tower defense game. Unlike other tower defense titles, though, The Engineer makes Zack Scrap the end point for the baddies:


Yes, that's Zach in the top-left corner. (He didn't last long after this.)

It's your job to guide Zach in setting up defensive towers in rocky, industrial terrain to keep him safe while shutting down these control terminals:


Grab scraps from your surroundings, and from the debris of fallen robots, and you can build more and more towers, or upgrade Zach's weapons and armour. Blow up all of the robots and deactivate all of the terminals (you need to stand close to 'em to do the job) and you'll complete the level.

Controls

The Engineer is a survival game, and so solid controls is absolutely essential. And, for the most part, they're not bad: Zach is easy to guide with the arrow keys, and you can lay down (and upgrade) towers by hitting Space. You can also fire Zach's gun by hitting the mouse button and aiming him in the direction of the mouse, but this is a bit more difficult than mere tower laying, and was more often my undoing than simply planting tower paths.

Graphics


This is a pretty game, but nothing overly amazing or special. I imagine the high requirements for a browser game are due to the sheer number of moving objects on the screen at one time, which is unfortunate as many computer users simply won't be able to play The Engineer. Otherwise... shrug? Graphically solid, if a bit generic.

Sound

Good sound effects, okay techno music. Problem is, like most browser games, the music gets replayed over... and over... and over. Muting is inevitable.

Challenge Rating

The Engineer is like most tower defense games, despite the added depth of having to control a character, in that it starts fairly easy and gets really hard, really fast. Unless you have extremely fast fingers - or you know EXACTLY where to place towers to maximize your kills - you'll probably just die on most maps. Unforgiving, but fun... and after a while, you'll get one of these:


Rather than just lots of blood on your screen:


Conclusion?

Technical problems aside - and I imagine they'll get solved EVENTUALLY, in which case I can revisit this review - The Engineer is pretty fun. It's more innovative than your average tower defense title, and though it's generally deeper than most similar titles it's easy to figure out even without instructions. Definitely worth playing, even if, like me, you can only play the user-created maps (which is fine, since there are lots of 'em).

PLAY THE ENGINEER