Developer: 5TH Cell | Publisher: THQ | Platform: Nintendo DS
Release date(s): NA - Sept. 8, 2008 | EU - Sept. 26, 2008 | AUS - Sept. 25, 2008
Genre: Real-time strategy | Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer | ESRB: Everyone
Before we begin ...
Protip #1: You will spend at least an hour with the demo. I HIGHLY recommend trying out the "Full Demo" rather than skipping straight to "Battle."
Protip #2: You can download the demo from the Wii's Nintendo Channel.
Now, for the real meat and potatoes ...
The easiest comparison to Lock's Quest is Pixel Junk Monsters ... with an added action element - in addition to building and repairing structures, you control an on-screen character that can attack incoming enemies.
This alters the "desktop defense" formula a bit due to the fact that one cannot rely solely on walls, turrets and other weaponry to do all the work for you. Those objects WILL be damaged due to attrition, and the most efficient route is to use Lock (the main character) to either defeat or injure a few of the inbound foes as well as repair objects.
The controls are as follows ...
Most everything is controlled by the stylus - moving Lock around, placing/moving structures, initiating attacks and repairs, etc. The D-Pad controls the camera (think of it in RTS terms when you use WASD or the arrow keys to move the camera), and L Shoulder will put the camera back on Lock.
[ TEXT WALL AHEAD. GO GRAB SOME CHEETOS. ]
Onto Build Mode!
You start with a pool of "Source," or currency, and gain more from destroyed enemies. So, during build mode, you can purchase or sell walls, gates, turrets, and a goo weapon that is opened up later on that slows down enemies (the goo machine is built out of four pieces of collected scrap metal); the rest are locked. An interesting twist is that during build mode, you can move previously placed objects most anywhere you want (there is a grid overlay that you build on).
Building generally consists of finding choke points and fortifying that position with your arsenal. You only have so much Source, and the demo map is rather large relative to the size objects take up. So, use your stuff wisely.
An 'advanced' technique for building would be to fortify turrets is to build walls directly next to them in a straight line (like this _____turret_____). This gives the turret a defensive bonus. You can gain up to three levels of bonus defense based on how many walls are connected to it.
[ REST STOP HERE. BREATHE. CONTINUE WHEN READY. ]
Next, onto Combat Mode.
Hand-to-hand combat consists of clicking on an enemy and watching as Lock pummels the robotic enemy (omigosh, robots are enemies!). You can either sit there and slowly beat up a dude, or use a "place in order" mechanic to enhance the damage.
At the bottom of the touch screen, numbers will pop up and you have to place them in order from highest to lowest starting from 1. You only have a certain amount of time to do this, and each correct ordered input leads to a new one with one more number added. So, at first, you will see "3 1 2." You tap "1 2 3" for the bonus. Then "4 2 3 1" shows up, and so on. If you mess up, the chain resets back to just three numbers.
There are some 'advanced' techniques to combat, though. For example, you can beat up on an enemy and let the turret do the rest while you go tend to damaged objects (you repair those by tapping them, and you can speed up that process by dragging a lever by the number of times displayed).
[ THE END IS NEAR. GET THOSE TYPING FINGERS READY. ]
From my time with the demo, I really enjoyed the game. I was already a huge fan of the "dekstop defense" game type, and this offered a refreshing change to that well-tested formula. The art style is that sort of colorful pixel stuff that makes me nostalgic, although the character portraits are kind of eeehhhh (which is a really minor gripe). There is not much variation of music in the demo, but who knows what the final product sounds like.
My only gripes are that the moving the camera with the D-Pad is a bit on the slow side. I wonder if you can alter that in the final game (already out at retail). The hand-to-hand combat is kind of dull, too. The ordering mechanic feels like something that is in there to give you something to do besides watch repeating fight animations.