Defender II Review

Defender II Review

Dec 14, 2012

The defense game category is another one that is not lacking at all in the Play Store; the offerings are many and varied. But, as I am wont to say, that is good for those looking for a good defense game, because competition is good.

Defender II from DroidHen is one option that is actually fun and different while retaining familiar concepts of the genre. As the title suggests, it is a follow-up to the original Defender game.

Now, the basics are the same: there were monsters and such trying to breach the city walls. They came in singles and group waves, and from different angles. My job, as a crossbow-wielding sentry, was to take them out before they were able to tear the city’s wall down. Now, what sets Defender II apart from other titles are the unique elements. I found it to be a structured game, with defined upgrade paths that matched the increasing difficulty of the levels. Destroying monsters earned me game coins, and successfully making it through a stage earned me coins and/or precious crystals. I was able to upgrade a host of items and attributes, like the range and speed of my bow, or the power and longevity of my fire elixir. Some powers had to be earned by leveling up; some were unlocked by successively upgrading qualifying attributes. For example, if I wanted to get the multiple arrow enhancement, I had to have “Power Shot” effect at Level 3 and “Fatal Blow” up to Level 3 as well. Each successive upgrade cost more than the last, and there were some really nice effects further in the game (hint: get that lava).

The complexity of the system is a blessing and a curse in my humble opinion. I loved that the goals were clearly spelled out, but I did find it fairly hard to progress after a while, as the monsters were faster, meaner and more varied. The coin payouts shrunk considerably (since being overrun was happening more frequently), making it tougher to progress without doling out real cash.

Graphically, the developer did well. The ghoulish look of the monsters was a treat, and the sounds matched well. I especially liked that the game had a battle mode, where it paired me with on the same course; whoever stayed alive the longest won. This was one way to try to earn crystals and such.

All in all, another fun game from DroidHen.

Dinosaur War Review

Dinosaur War Review

Nov 15, 2012

Dinosaur War (from heavyweight DroidHen) is an adventure that will make you fall in love with dinosaurs. And why not? With the land in peril, it only makes sense to form alliances with the giants to “expel evil off the land.”

At the core of the game is the aptly named The Market, which stocks your seed items. I started off with some stone, which was cash (Fred Flintstone would have been scandalized) and got to work buying more stuff to get my community going. By stuff, I mean egg nests, pastures, mines (which produced more stone, so very crucial), decorative pieces, potions or the all-important crystals. A lot of the materials were level-specific, meaning I had to attain a certain level just to obtain. Each item had a purpose or a specialty, and was of a particular benefit to man or beast. For example, purchasing green palm trees helped me with protection and increasing set population limits.

Gameplay consists of shoring up supplies, “recruiting” dinosaurs and going to battle. Recruiting generally referred to raising my beasts in the presence of the right raw materials. Battles entailed me lining up to battle the enemy, and I inflicted damage by swiping rapidly on the enemy beasts. Won battles got me Experience Points (which in turn got me promoted to higher levels) and sometimes stone. Lost battles caused lost resources, like the aforementioned XP.

Dinosaur War gave out missions. Completing the missions garnered rewards. In this, I liked that different aspects of the game were intertwined. When did things right, we flourished; rushed or bad decisions hurt my community.

An Arena can be purchased to facilitate online play. I could challenge players for the rights to win eggs in online battles. While I thought some aspects in the game could have been defined a bit better (like battles), I thought that the online features made up for it.

All in all, Dinosaur War proves that it has the juice to be a cross-generation favorite.

Turbo Kids Review

Turbo Kids Review

Sep 17, 2012

Droidhen, creators of the popular Defender games on Android (that surprisingly haven’t been shut down by whoever owns the trademark to the classic arcade game Defender), have a new title that has an interesting hook to it. Turbo Kids is essentially what would happen if an endless runner was crossed with Mario Kart. Players control one of the eponymous turbo kids, who like to compete in footraces with other speedy kids. They like to race through courses above bottomless bits, with tricky jumps, speed boosters, and launch pads, because turbo kids like it wild. They also like to play with items to toss around, like freeze orbs and spiked balls that switch places with the unfortunate victim. Along the way, money and stars can be earned (based on the traditional 3-star ranking system) that can be spent on character and skill upgrades, respectively. These are necessary to keep up with the opposition!

The fun of Turbo Kids comes from that Mario Kart-esque ability to screw over opponents at opportune moments for succeeding. Switching places with the leader is always great. There’s still plenty that can be done to keep from being a victim of venomous fate, There are 60 levels in the main game, with 4 modes that award additional stars for repeated successful performance.

Turbo Kids is free, and the free to play elements don’t really feel all that onerous. They feel designed to where maybe long-time players who have played the game a lot and are finding it difficult to advance will feel compelled to spend money rather than grinding on objectives. That’s the way it should work: compel the players who spend a lot of time to spend the money, not to try and punish players for playing for free from the beginning. There are at least plenty of opportunities to grind for in-game currency, which makes the experience extremely easy to manage.

What I want out of Turbo Kids is multiplayer support of some kind. All the fun of freezing opponents and using the moonwalk ability to escape their devious traps would feel a lot more fun if it could be done to people I know instead of random strangers on the internet. Plus, more customization would be great, instead of just being a distinct color amongst the other same-colored turbo kids.

Still, this is a remarkably refreshing take on the endless runner genre, one that does a lot right with the entire package. Fantastic work from Droidhen.

Defender Review

Defender Review

Jan 23, 2012

I think we all have days when we feel besieged. Wave after wave of setbacks try to keep us down, and we soldier on. I may be going out of a limb here, but I think that’s why, subconsciously, defense games are so popular. A horde approaches to knock down your tower, and you are all that is standing between Good and Evil. It can be cathartic to take that feeling of overwhelming odds and turn it into a challenge to beat. And, specifically, to fire arrows at.

Defender is a game with a simple title, and a seemingly simple objective: stop monsters from destroying your tower. You are the tower’s archer, and you use your bow to hold back and destroy the creatures that appear in waves, bent only on breaking through your walls. The instructions are also simple and straight-forward: tap the screen to fire arrows, long-press for continuous fire, and drag-and-drop your spells onto enemies to trigger them. You earn gold killing enemies and crystals for successful level completion. Gold and crystals are them used to upgrade your weapons, defenses, and spells.

One of the things I like about Defender is that when you die you don’t actually lose anything. You start each round with full health and mana, and you also keep any gold you may have earned despite dying. You don’t earn crystals though, so it is still a challenge to increase your strengths without the mana boosts necessary. The game does offer you the option of purchasing extra gold or crystals. Ordinarily I hate the idea of paying extra for game-components, but considering the fact that the game is free…it’s actually completely fair for the developers to try.

I do wish though that they would tweak the attacks mechanics a bit. You have the option of single-firing arrows, but since every enemy needs at least two shots to take it down, you’ll find yourself exclusively using continuous fire immediately. And the problem there is that you end up essentially dragging your finger all over the screen, blocking your own view. As well, the game can’t fire arrows and cast spells at the same time. This is a problem because when you’ve been in continuous fire mode for too long and try to cast a spell the game needs a second to catch up. It doesn’t lag, it just delays your spell cast. This can give enemies the time they need to get past you and score some costly points.