Lately it seems the iPhone has become thee platform for tower defense. This genre has become so popular that hardly a week goes by when a new tower defense game of some kind doesn’t hit the app store. Like the content of the games themselves, the genre seems to be relentless in its attack on the device. Why should this week be any different?
If you haven’t had the pleasure of playing one of these types of game, here’s a brief description: players spend currency in order to defend their base from an onslaught of incoming bad guys. Although these games range in setting and motif, the basics stay pretty much the same.
Keep Defenders, an Itty-Bitty Games title, recently entered into the foray by combining the popular tower defense game with bits of real-time strategy. Their spin turns out a decent product that seems to aspire to more than what it ultimately achieves.
Graphics: Visually, the game is solid. The medieval manga style of the characters blends nicely over the top of well-rendered maps that show a wide range of climates.
Hybridity: The fusion of tower defense and real-time strategy works well. Too many defense games don’t give players enough to do during battle. Keep Defenders fixes that problem by allowing you move or modify your attacks on fly.
Difficulty settings: This game can be a cake walk or a real pain depending on your preference.
Strategy: The game becomes quite fun when you have six or seven men protecting your keep from invaders that are coming from all directions.
Pacing: The pace of advancement in this game is grueling. Only after surviving 25 rounds of stodgy click-for-clank fighting do players earn the right to purchase other types of defenders. Advancement speed could be rectified if players were given a total dollar amount they could spend on their armies before each battle begins. This would replace the now sporadic and slightly annoying practice of obtaining one or two gold pieces after each kill. Another idea that would help the pace is allowing for bigger armies earlier… and more often. For the first 75 or so waves, the battles didn’t seem get any bigger than three-on-three or four-on-four. That’s barely a brawl.
Audio: The music that opens the game is an empty promise. During battle, the only sounds to be heard are clanks of metal and the “ahhh!” that signifies a person’s death. This would be fine if players could use their own iTunes library to fill the void, but since they can’t, the silence becomes monotonous.
Lack of personality: Considering how good the visuals are, it seems odd that there is so little life in these armies. When being first recruited or vanquishing a foe, none of them say a word. They simply move onto their next objective like a mindless robot. It would be a nice touch if they announced their arrival with a salute, flexed their muscles after a kill, or gave each other high fives in between waves of attacks.
Even though the title never quite hits full steam, Keep Defenders has enough style and substance to keep you busy during a lazy Saturday afternoon. Fans of Castle Warriors will probably get a kick out of this game as it does cater to a similar audience. One caveat: this game doesn’t include the humor. That being said, adding a few well-designed features in an update–like a versus mode–would make this game a real gem.
Keep Defenders was produced by Itty-Bitty Games and is available for $2.99; the game’s 1.0 version was reviewed on an iPod Touch 2G equipped with OS 3.1.1. Keep Defenders is on sale this week for $1.99.