Oct 5, 2011
Arcade shooters have been set in a wide variety of locations, but you don’t see too many of them set underwater. Jelly Defender is one of the rare exceptions, putting you in the briny blue as a lone submarine attempting to survive 40 levels of attacking jellyfish, shooting down as many as possible for the highest score.
With each level comes a new type of jellyfish that moves in a different way. Some go very slow while others go very fast. Some oscillate between very wide arcs while others make very short arcs, making them hard to hit and hard to avoid. In order to succeed, you must kill a certain number in order to unlock the next level. You only get one life per level, but unlimited attempts to pass it. If you crash into a jellyfish, you have to start the level again from the beginning. In later levels, it can get pretty tough. Some of the challenge of the game is made up in the way points are deducted from your score for each missed shot. You don’t lose anything if jellyfish swim right past you, but for the best score possible, you need to make every shot count.
Beyond anything I’ve mentioned so far, Jelly Defender is in a pretty sorry state. The gameplay is about as shallow as they come. All you do for the entirety of the game is shoot and dodge jellyfish; you can’t even move around. You’re constantly set to the far left of the screen, only capable of moving up or down while a steady barrage of jellyfish flow in from the right. For a game that borrows the name “defender,” hoping to evoke a bit of that arcade classic was wishful thinking. This game is only like Defender in the most barebones way possible — the game is set to landscape view and you shoot things. And that’s about its deepest connection.
Levels end when they end, giving no indication of progress, of how far you have left to go or any kind of conclusion. The level just ends, shows you a score and asks if you’d like to continue. In all likelihood, I don’t see too many people wanting to after the first few levels. The graphics are very basic, without any special effects to make it interesting at all. For example, your shots are nothing more than a tiny, black streak while jellyfish simply disappear when hit. The background looks nice but reminds me of an image you might stick to the back of a fish tank, with schools of fish frozen in space and seaweed leaves standing still. Even worse, the background is also the wrong size; jellyfish swim right off it and onto a black bar at the edge of the screen. As for the jellyfish themselves, they’re hardly animated. Tentacles stiffly hang down as they move towards you.
Overall, I’d say Jelly Defender is a must to avoid. It’s too basic and doesn’t offer much fun aside from endlessly shooting boring, cartoon jellyfish.