These dungeons aren't gonna defend themselves
For those of you who missed it, despite it being on almost every platform imaginable, Dungeon Defenders is masterful mixture of co-op, RPG, lootfest, tower defense action. Seriously, you can play it on your phone or it's fre... read feature
CastleStorm came out for Xbox Live Arcade, PC, and PlayStation Network last year and we overall liked the game. Well now it's coming out for iOS and Google Play devices as CastleStorm - Free to Siege.
The mobile version, as y... read
It's been three years, but one of my favorite mobile strategy titles, Legendary Wars, has finally come to Android, via the Google Play Store.
In this RTS-RPG hybrid you directly control an ever growing army of knights, wizar... read
PopCap's released a new video for its upcoming third-person shooter take on the much loved tower-defense franchise, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. It's short, and really only exists to let everyone know that they can no... read
From its description as a "tower defense-inspired puzzle game," Block Blocks doesn't sound amazing, but in motion it looks like it could be quite hectic, and it almost has an early Bit.Trip aesthetic to it. The gameplay is e... read
I'm unsure how many of you played Defender's Quest. Yes, it wasn't pretty to look at -- but it was a rather excellent tower-defense title, one that featured rock-solid mechanics and a commendable attempt at telling an engagin... read
Vikings versus knights. That's the conceit of Zen Studios' CastleStorm, which our own Ian Bonds enjoyed well enough when it original launched on XBLA. It's a much more in-depth Angry Birds of sorts, with real-time strategy a... read
Trendy is 'focusing on what fans really want to see
// Jordan Devore
There was backlash when Trendy Entertainment announced Dungeon Defenders II. While the game was always going to retain its tower-defense foundation, the studio was planning to add a competitive, MOBA-style mode. That didn't ... read
Time Surfer also debuts, Punch Quest is as good as ever
// Darren Nakamura
The Humble Bundle people are at it again, with the second official mobile bundle, though they have had other Android-based bundles before they started numbering. This is the standard Humble Bundle affair: pay what you want, ... read
Sanctum 2 came to PC and Xbox 360 earlier this year. Our own Patrick Hancock reviewed it, ultimately enjoying the colorful sequel, which trends more towards first-person shooter than its tower defense leaning predecessor. Wh... read
Aug 31 //
These cards can probably be considered the crux of Toy Rush. The random packs give you different forces, traps, and occasionally, a rare (and very powerful) creature. These are now in your arsenal to complete the other levels. But, they serve a greater purpose, too. Apart from being used in single-player, they are also available permanently in your base for multiplayer.
It feels like Uber structured Toy Rush so that everything eventually centers around multiplayer play. It wasn't on display at the show, but it seems that multiplayer will make the player strike a balance between defending their base and attacking their opponent's. I was under the impression that it might benefit the player to pay attention to taking care of home instead of being overly aggressive.
While only a bit of the game was shown at PAX Prime, it was obvious that Toy Rush is shaping up to be a fun and competent title. The developers told me that they're developing for both iOS and Android, but they haven't decided which one they're going to release first. Regardless, Uber's attempt at a tower defense game looks like it's on track to do just fine.
It's just so damn adorable
One of the cutest-looking games that I saw at PAX Prime was Uber Entertainment's Toy Rush. Don't let the cuteness deceive you, though. Toy Rush is shaping up to be a surprisingly deep and fun title.
The developers... read feature
I keep wanting to type 'event horizon' and it's bugging me
// Steven Hansen
One of the many indie developers currently working with Sony is Eiconic Games. They're calling their RTS Final Horizon, which apparently takes cues from Space Invaders and Aliens, "the evolution of tower defense." More tower ... read
The next game from the makers of Monday Night Combat and the upcoming Planetary Annihilation is going in an altogether different direction. Toy Rush is a card-centric tower defense title built for mobile devices. If, like me... read
Even though I'd rather get my hands on PixelJunk Inc. than double dip on yet another Q-Games title, PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate is tempting. It's coming to Steam on August 26, 2013 with local and online cooperative play, game... read
Double Eleven is giving PixelJunk Monsters a fresh coat of paint for PlayStation Vita later this month. PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD will launch on July 30 and July 31 for North American and European PlayStation Network us... read
While I didn't stick around with Orcs Must Die! 2 like I did with its predecessor, it still provided some decent action/tower defense gameplay. In a move that will hopefully breathe new life into the title on PC, developer Ro... read
This is the exact news I was hoping I'd get to cover following word of Q Games' collaboration with Double Eleven. The latter studio is indeed porting a beloved PixelJunk title to PlayStation Vita. PixelJunk Monsters: Ult... read
Jun 08 //
Go Home Dinosaurs! (iOS [reviewed], PC)Developer: Firehose GamesPublisher: Firehose GamesReleased: May 9, 2013 (iOS) / March 14, 2013 (PC)MSRP: $4.99 (iOS) / $9.99 (PC)
In Go Home Dinosaurs! you are an adorable little gopher tasked with protecting your barbecue from those dastardly prehistoric monsters of the game's namesake. Each level can earn you up to three steaks from your barbecue, and each hit you take from the incoming dinosaurs causes you to lose a steak through the dynamite rigged next to it as a last stand against the opposing forces.
In many cases and especially in the later levels, the player will find great challenge in figuring out exactly how to preserve every one of those three delicious steaks. Why a gopher is cooking steak for his family or why he even coexists with dinosaurs is questionable, but irrelevant for the sake of the incredibly fun gameplay.
The game has tons of humor and charm to spare, as each unit you place on the battlefield to help protect your barbecue spouts lines paraphrased from cult classic and popular movies such as Full Metal Jacket, The Warriors, Aliens and even a few references to other videogames (some groan-inducing, such as the 'arrow to the knee' riff from the gopher in the game's store).
At times, the game threatens to be cloying because of the constant repetition of these lines by your gopher squadrons, but thanks to the constant progression and inclusion of new units, you're mostly treated to more fun references as you get further along.
The gameplay itself is incredibly fast-paced for a tower defense title. The little gopher you control can actually defend against dinosaurs by throwing rocks when you move him close, but you'll be spending most of your time with him (her?) collecting coconuts from trees in much the same way that you collect sunflowers in Plants vs. Zombies. The dinosaurs move along a pre-determined path, and it's your job to set up defenses along this path to properly eradicate the giant lizard menace.
The dinosaurs themselves are cute and dopey, they come in a wide variety of Stegosauruses, T-Rexes, Pterodactyls, and others with varying attack patterns and speeds, and they can be absolutely relentless in their single-minded determination at times. The defense units you receive also vary widely and take up a certain amount of space and a type of shape on the battlefield, so it's necessary to plan carefully before each round to make sure you get the right kind of defense units that will actually provide useful against the dino onslaught.
For example, in one of the later stages, I found a great strategy against the dinosaurs by setting up a couple of 'snow-thrower' gopher units that damage and slow down incoming forces and come in the most aggravating tetromino (zigzag) size for the battlefield, as well as a couple of 'boombox' gopers that slowly deplete enemy health within a certain area. With little room to spare, I chose to use my favorite instant power-up, a robotic gopher team that pops up wherever needed to attack enemies and collect coconuts for a limited time.
Truth be told, for a good number of the levels I relied on this team for that extra little push, especially during moments in most levels when the dinosaurs rush the BBQ in great numbers. In a way, the instant power-ups you earn primarily through collecting coins at the end of most levels feel a little like cheating, as they don't require too much strategy beyond when to use them.
In this sense, the game might seem to appeal more to a younger audience who may need the extra help. Don't be fooled however, as there are certain levels in the late game where surviving with all three steaks truly relies on timing your use of the power-ups in conjunction with the defense units and which ones you decide to use.
Go Home Dinosaurs! will last you at least eight to ten hours if you're a skilled player, and certainly more if you're a younger or less familiar gamer. With its 4.99 asking price for a total of 60 levels, the game certainly gives you enough bang for its buck, and with adorable characters and often smile-inducing one liners, you'll be returning to it often for a tower defense experience that starts out casually and then truly challenges your brain and reflexes.
You're drunk at our BBQ... Go Home Dinosaurs! is a game that will draw immediate comparisons to Plants vs. Zombies. From its cutesy art style, to its carefully constructed tower defense-based gameplay, much of this iPad experience will recall hours pla... read feature
Jun 07 //
CastleStorm (Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Zen StudiosPublisher: Zen StudiosReleased: May 29, 2013MSRP: 800 Microsoft Points
CastleStorm, simply put, is a physics-based tower defense game. Think Angry Birds meets Plants vs. Zombies and you'll have a pretty good idea of what's in store when you boot it up. You spend the majority of the game manning a ballista that can fire different artillery at foes including a standard javelin, three spears at once, shots that explode with a button press after firing, Thor's hammer Mjolnir, and so on as the enemy sends troops and their own return fire in an attempt to bring down your walls.
Targeting is fairly easy, though often touchy when battles become more heated. There's a certain level of precision needed, as the game encourages javelin headshots against enemy troops -- these reward you with additional money you can use to upgrade your stronghold, troops, and weaponry, while also being efficient.
Speaking of troops, your comrades in arms help a great deal in battle. Levels often have multiple objectives, which allow for more than one way to conquer your foes, and your troops often play a role in these differing goals. If hurling giant heavy things at the front door isn't enough to bring down their stronghold, you can send troops in to capture their flag or to draw the enemies' fire or summon creatures such as hawks, dire wolves, brutish trolls, and more while you bring the house down around your enemies' ears.
There are also spells that can protect troops, attack with powerful magic, and even allow you to briefly play as your team's champion, dealing out damage in a more up-close and personal manner.
Your champion runs on a timer, so while getting in those close, quick kills it is important to make every attack count before they're returned to the castle. While controlling the champion, it's important to note that no one will be manning the ballista when you're out hacking and slashing your way through the ranks, nor can the champion capture a flag, so they're only there to even the score, not turn the tide.
As with your troops and artillery, your spells and champion summon are mapped to a face button on the controller, and you can quickly and easily scroll through your different attack options with the bumper buttons while the battle rages on.
While CastleStorm may not be your standard tower defense fare -- you don't really have to mine for materials with which to fight like in many strategy and defense titles -- there's still some management needed, and that comes in the upkeep of your...keep. Customizing your castle with the proper food stores and barracks helps keep your troops in fighting condition and helps to replenish your fallen heroes on the field.
You're only allowed five troop types, so selecting which barracks will house what troops is key. Outfitting your castle is almost a game by itself, as the proper placement of the training grounds, barracks, and such is just another one of the many strategies you'll utilize in gameplay.
The game itself has a playful, goofy look, and it's clear it doesn't take itself very seriously. Corny jokes pepper the storyline and visuals, from Gareth, the pompous Champion of the Kingdom, to the fat friar, to the king's right-hand toadie and all-around shady character Rufus, to sheep that chew the ballista's firing mechanism, troops that ride donkeys, and more.
And while the bright, vibrant colors and lush background of the various battlefields add a nice variety to the visuals, the castle editor is another matter entirely. Rooms appear small, and often unrecognizable from each other, which makes customization take a bit longer as you click on every room that was preset to determine what's what.
The sound in the game is minimal, with battle noise clanging, crashing, and crunching appropriately. There's not a lot of voice acting per se -- much of the story is driven along via scrolling text -- but the few voices present add a certain amount of character to the action and the people you interact with. Again, there's humor throughout and the minimal voice work punctuates the gags of the text and visuals.
There's a few multiplayer options here too. Your standard split screen one-on-one battles offer some fun for two players, but there's also survival mode, where friends team up against other players or AI. The Last Stand Co-op is great fun too, where players control the heroes rather than man the ballista. The real meat and potatoes, however, is the campaign, which is where you'll end up getting all the good weapons and rooms for your castle to use in multiplayer anyway.
If the tower defense game is your thing, CastleStorm certainly offers a serviceable option to the already busy genre. Between managing your troops, attacking with the ballista, and choosing when to cast spells or send in your champion, there's a lot of challenge present. And while there may be times when it can get repetitive -- honestly, what tower defense game doesn't? -- it's certainly worth a try, even if it won't set the world on fire. Just the enemy's castle.
Knights vs. Vikings, pre-ESPN Hey kids! Do you like smashing stuff in Angry Birds, but wish it was just a bit more...medieval? How about a bit of troop management? Spells? Swords? Sheep? Less birds, more beards?
All this and more await you in CastleStorm! read feature
May 21 //
Sanctum 2 (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Coffee Stain StudiosPublisher: Coffee Stain StudiosRelease Date: May 15, 2013MSRP: $14.99 (PC) / 1200 Microsoft Points (XBLA)
Sanctum 2 introduces an actual plot, if you can even call it that. Told through comic book-esque loading screens, the story revolves around the four main characters and an alien outbreak. Each plot segment basically consists of the characters going somewhere new and reacting to their surroundings or some event. It isn't in any way interesting, but it also isn't obscenely bad. It just is. The story does, however, end in a cliffhanger, likely to be resolved with DLC. At the very least, the art of the story bits is very nice to look at.
Sanctum 2 blends both tower defense and first-person shooting, though the emphasis tends to lean towards the latter element. Gameplay takes place in waves, with the amount of waves depending on the specific map. The objective of each map is to protect the Core from aliens by killing them before they get there. Each wave will spawn a specific amount of aliens, the exact type and number being transparently displayed to the player beforehand.
The shooting feels pretty much exactly like you would expect. "Aiming down the sights" has sort of been introduced, although it isn't very useful in most situations. Unlimited sprinting is also present, making Sanctum 2 feel a lot more like traditional FPS games than its predecessor. This isn't a bad thing, of course, since better aim control and faster movement are always welcome. Enemies have glowing red weak spots that take extra damage, whether it is their unarmored butthole or their head which curiously resembles a pair of testicles.
There are four characters to choose from, each unique in their movement and weapons. They all feel different, and chances are that each player will find a character that suits their playstyle best. Call of Duty-style perks and a secondary weapon are customizable to ensure that characters can be further customized to your liking. The amount of perks that can be enabled at once as well as the perks themselves are unlocked with leveling, so higher-level players will be better at killing aliens.
Tower resources drop in between waves and come in two forms: tower bases and actual towers. Tower bases are used to create a maze, forcing the aliens to walk much further in order to get to the Core. They are also necessary to host the towers themselves; a tower can only be placed on top of a tower base. Resources drop for each player in multiplayer, though if someone so chooses, they may steal other players' resources if they get there first.
The resources always drop onto the map at the Core, usually forcing players to run back and pick them up. In multiplayer this has some extra significance -- if one player wants to pick up another players' resources (after asking, hopefully), they can increase the amount of towers they can build. In single-player, however, running back to the Core in between rounds becomes the definition of tedium.
Occasionally, the tower-building phase of a round will be timed. While it may seem like this serves no purpose other than to frustrate, it does add a good amount of tension to an otherwise lengthy portion of the round. Instead of contemplating which maze layout is the absolute best for a round, the game challenges players to think on their feet, especially when it is required to run back to the Core to pick up the resources. These timed tower-building phases never seem to come before an incredibly difficult wave, so they serve as a good way to mix things up a bit for the player(s).
Also mixing things up are the bosses, which generally rear their ugly heads during the last wave of most maps. These bosses usually have unique traits, like the ability to destroy towers and tower bases, forcing players to rethink their strategy. While the bosses feel appropriately challenging, losing on the last round sometimes feels inevitable depending on which towers players initially brought into the mission, since there's no way to tell what type of enemies or bosses will show up as the mission progresses.
While there's a wide variety of towers to choose from, each player may only take a certain amount into a map at a time. The exact number increases upon leveling up, again making higher-level players immediately better than lower-level players. It is a cooperative game so it isn't a huge issue, but if a higher-level player plays with someone who is new, chances are that the higher-level player is going to be putting down most of the towers simply because they have access to more of them.
Towers can be upgraded using resources up to level three, however the amount of resources needed to upgrade a tower is not displayed. This is incredibly frustrating and boils down to trial and error: dump resources into a tower, see if it upgrades, then decide if it is worth it to keep the tower as is. Displaying the number would immediately alleviate this issue and is a very odd omission.
It is also oddly difficult to see the range of an individual tower. The only way to view a tower's radius is to look directly at it, at which point the radius is highlighted around the tower. However, since the player must be staring directly at the tower, it becomes difficult to see how far the radius goes for some of the longer-range towers.
Each player's health is hidden, but only to themselves; in multiplayer, looking at a fellow player will plainly display their health in numbers. Health does regenerate and turns the player's vision more grayscale as it decreases, but the overall lack of hard information displayed to the player in Sanctum 2 is almost insulting.
Missions have way more replayability in Sanctum 2 thanks to the Feats of Strength mechanic. Players are allowed to include up to five Feats of Strength in any mission, each one increasing the difficulty and experience earned. These Feats include things like increasing enemies' HP, speed, and giving them regenerative health. This allows players to customize the difficulty to their own level, while simultaneously reaping more rewards for more risk. There's also an included "Easy Mode," which reduces the overall difficulty of the map. Each map can also be played in survival mode, which tasks players with surviving for as long as they can against an endless amount of waves.
As mentioned before, every player in multiplayer gets their own drop of resources in between rounds. Other players can grab them if they get there first, so beware of jerk players who do so without asking. Others' resources are not displayed, making it a huge hassle to coordinate planting towers or tower bases. Voice communication on the PC version is also borderline useless since the volume is so low and cannot be raised; be prepared to text chat if you want to get anything done.
The PC version as a whole seems like an afterthought of the Xbox version. There is no server browser, the leaderboards say "Gamertag" instead of "Steam ID," and player number is indicated by the Xbox controller ring lights. The game performs fine and has a healthy amount of options, but the edges are a bit rough on this PC port.
Sanctum does look impressive, visually. The white laboratory theme from the first Sanctum is only a small portion of the sequel, with outside environments making up most of the campaign levels. Many of the enemies are carried over from the first game and look pretty much the same. The sound design is excellent, with great weapon sounds and music that sets the science-fiction atmosphere incredibly well.
As a whole, Sanctum 2 feels confused. It isn't quite as much tower defense as fans of the first game would probably hope for, since more of the emphasis this time around is placed on the first-person shooting element. It also hides way too much information from the player, leading to a lot of guess-and-check strategies. The game remains a refreshing hybrid of genres, however, and many of the frustrations temporarily wash away as you lay witness to the last enemy in the last wave die, proving that your strategic planning and accurate shooting have paid off.
A hybrid with good mileage I think the first Sanctum game surprised a lot of people. It took the intellectual strategy aspect of tower defense games and combined it with the more action-oriented first-person shooter genre to create a unique, wonderful ... read feature
May 15 //
Anomaly 2 (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: 11 bit StudiosPublisher: 11 bit StudiosReleased: May 15, 2013MSRP: $14.99
I either love or hate tower defense games with very little room between the two extremes. The dividing factor is basically "action" or the lack thereof. Waiting for impending doom is boring, but I won’t notice if you give me sun drops or coins to collect. Anomaly is all about action, which is what made the original stand out. As the name suggests, it’s a strange amalgamation of genres and design that is hard to qualify.The fourteen levels of Anomaly 2 take place from within two viewpoints. Off the field, the game most closely resembles tower-defense as you plan actions on a map that displays enemy towers that will meet your troops. Since you are the creeps, not the towers, you can choose different routes and even loop back to the beginning (though there isn’t often a good reason to do this). You also buy a variety of vehicles that offer defense, support, offense, or produce buffs, like slowing enemies down or temporarily cloaking the squad.[embed]253711:48673:0[/embed]
On the field, Anomaly plays more like an action game as you frantically acquire and apply support to your squad via area-of-effect abilities. Directing an EMP blast that temporarily disables a heavy damage tower is as essential to success as a well rounded squad. Anomaly 2 refines abilities, getting rid of the lackluster mist and bomb drop and adding in an EMP blast and power-up that concentrates fire on a single unit. The mix of slow paced strategic planning and fast-paced, click-happy action gives Anomaly a unique and engaging ebb-and-flow.Subtle refinements to user interface and unit design make Anomaly 2 a better game, but it’s the addition of alternate roles for units and the vastly improved graphics that make this sequel a noticeable step-up. Each unit in Anomaly 2 has an alternate form which is accessed with a double click. Most of these forms are similar to each other, such as the gatling gun assault unit morphing into a walking mech with flamethrowers. I never used the Hell Hound mech outside the tutorials, but I found myself constantly switching the forms of my missile unit -- one offers a deadly direct shot while the other has a wider range but weaker attack. Doubling units’ abilities adds a greater variety of tactical loadouts and makes the action a bit more frantic as constantly switching between forms becomes standard procedure.I played the first Anomaly on my Nexus 7, so I had a hard time adapting to the control of a commander unit present in Anomaly 2 (on PC). Using touch controls to trigger abilities feels intuitive, so it was a jarring experience to find myself using a mouse to direct an on-field commander who acted as the trigger and spawn point of abilities, instead of my finger tips. This may be old hat for those who played Anomaly on PC or console, but it bugged me, nonetheless. I often lost my commander’s position when combat got heated, got stuck on geometry, and wrestled with the camera until things clicked several missions in. If you have the patience, I’d recommend waiting for Anomaly 2 on tablet. Doing so, however, may detract from the great visuals.
The scope and scale of Anomaly 2 is much greater than its predecessor, as it features cutscenes, narrative-driven missions, and detailed landscapes. Each of the game’s 14 missions introduces a new mechanic, squad unit, and/or enemy tower. Some of the missions, such as one where you need to defend a base located in the center of a map, aren’t much fun but at least all of them have their own unique look and objective. From Rio to Antarctica, the game looks fantastic even if the levels are all propping up a painfully written and acted story. Thankfully, the cutscenes and dialogues exchanges are brief but not brief enough for a title destined for mobile.
While the greater scale makes for a more exciting visual experience, the increased size of the maps also highlights problems from the first Anomaly. Halfway through the game, I started to feel fatigued as I settled into using the same strategies. I also found myself -- as I so often did in the first -- putting myself into a corner by draining my abilities or health right before a checkpoint, forcing me to restart from the beginning. All of this makes me wish the game's levels were divided into smaller pieces. While the framework of Anomaly makes for some fun strategy, it also paves the way for some frustrating issues. Multiplayer is an interesting but overall lackluster addition to the series. With a scant five maps (four of which need to be unlocked through play), it doesn’t seem the developer is considering it more than an experiment. I have a hard time gauging the success of this experiment, however, since my time with it found me in a couple amateur matches.
One player sets up towers (the game literally becomes tower defense), while the other directs a squad (identical to singleplayer). Finding the right build flow for the tower defense side is essential, as the offending squad can quickly decimate the buildings. At the same time, the tower defense side can build massive forces (through towers that acquire more building resources) that can be near impossible to combat if not wiped out first. Whether seasoned players will eventually discover a balance to multiplayer is an issue to be addressed after release, but I can say that, as an amateur, it’s not very fun or rewarding.Anomaly 2 builds upon the original in every way, leaving me to wonder if this is as good as the concept of a deconstructed tower defense game can get. Anomaly 2 is an immediate and exciting strategy game unlike any other, but over time the repetition and lack of depth leaves something to be desired. It’s a welcome distraction on a phone or tablet, but the limits of the game are quickly noticed when played in long bursts on PC. For fans of the first that looked past these shortcomings, Anomaly 2 is a bigger, smarter, and better looking game.
Earth Offense Force Don’t let the screenshots fool you: This isn’t the game you think it is. The first Anomaly was an unexpected sleeper hit that found a successful formula on flipping tower defense on its head by putting the playe... read feature
May 06 //
Allistair Pinsof [embed]253193:48546:0[/embed]
Don't most decent videogames have a sequel out by now?
PopCap beat us to the punch by relabeling its game Plants Vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time within a new teaser trailer that also reveals the game's July release. This trailer was announced on the official Plants vs. Zombies Fa... read feature
Anomaly 2 is coming out on May 15 for the PC, mac, and Linux, and pre-orders have now opened up where you can get 10% off of the $14.99 retail price. Not only do you get a small discount, but you'll also be given an extra co... read
Kickstarted sequel will be on Windows, Mac, and Linux in 2014
// Alasdair Duncan
The Kickstarter campaign for Defense Grid 2 was an odd one; instead of pitching purely to make a full game, there were rewards to expand the original Defense Grid at various tiers. So although the team only received enough ba... read
Defense Grid: Containment came about from a Kickstarter campaign intended to raise enough money to create Defense Grid 2. Sadly, Hidden Path Entertainment didn't get the funding needed to create a full sequel to this amazing ... read
Apr 19 //
Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger (3DS eShop)Developer: VanpoolPublisher: NintendoReleased: April 11, 2013MSRP: $10.99
The Last Ranger is largely about speed. You can walk if you want, but it's rarely a good idea. You're better off rolling around at top speed at all times, collecting all the resources you can before the sun goes down, and protecting your property from little rock guys at night before they wreck all your stuff. Balancing your attention between the macro game (awareness of the passage of time and the location of items/enemies/allies in a larger area) and the micro game (navigating through the immediate space as quickly and efficiently as possible) is the key concept here. That balance creates a pretty interesting internal conflict for the player between focusing on the here-and-now while also planning ahead. The better you can do both of those things simultaneously, the more likely you are to survive.
It's an interesting idea delivered with a lot of confidence. The graphics look impressive for an $11 eShop title, the art direction is both moody and inviting, and the music is the right mix between non-intrusive and catchy. This cute-but-serious old west cartoon world does well to provide a surface level expression of the game's underlying themes of enjoying the moment while being driven by the dread and desperation of a wild world where safety is never constant. It's the best Rango game never made.
Just like in the first game, there are cool power-ups to discover or purchase for Dillon, and strategically placed combat towers strewn about the field of combat. The Last Ranger also gives you the option to team up with mysterious rangers. The ranger dynamic brings more to the table than just an A.I. co-op partner. It also provides a few surprises, new gameplay elements (which I don't want to spoil for you), some additional story, and sense of cutthroat culture to this world of adorable talking animals. Also new to the sequel is the train system, where you're tasked to stop protecting stationary villages for a while and instead guard a rolling steam train. Giving you a moving target adds to the tension a bit, but it doesn't feel substantially different.
Problems also pop up with the interface. The controls are initially counter intuitive, as the combat overworld setups are totally different. This doesn't make a ton of sense, as on both the overworld and in battle you're still doing the same roll move using the touch screen. You just have to control the direction of that move in a totally different way. The game doesn't explain this to you either, which led me to play the game wrong for the first ten minutes or so.
Once you get the hang of them, the controls lend themselves pretty well to the design. Using the touch screen, circle pad, and L trigger (which can be flipped for lefties) gives you everything you need. Though streamlined, you can still pull off cool combos in combat and feel a sense of variety in traversing the environment. It works great when the fixed camera in the combat screen doesn't hide enemies from you, which is fairly often.
Then there is the tedium. There are a few enemy types, but you'll spend far too much time taking on the variations of the same relatively defenseless rock guys over and over again. The same is true of the game's levels. Every field lends itself to it's own unique strategies and cosmetic differences, but the feeling of sameness sets in fairly quickly regardless.
That's exacerbated by the punishing replay system. When you screw up really bad (which will likely happen a fair amount as the game is designed around tempting you to goof off), you may have to replay ten or more minutes of content in order to rectify your mistakes. While it's fun to see yourself improve in the process of turning past failures into total victories, it's not always satisfying enough to fend back the feeling of being re-fed some food you've already chewed and swallowed.
Like a lot of country music, The Last Ranger suffers from being repetitive and overly simplistic at times. Thankfully, it's very well performed, infectious, and packed with plenty of personality. If you play in occasional 20-30 minutes burst, you may never grow tired of this composition, but if you try to marathon through this album of outlaw armadillo hits, you'll be tempted to put the thing down for good.
Going, going, Goron Dillon's Rolling Western and it's sequel, The Last Ranger, feel like cut bonus content from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Dillon, the series' titular protagonist, has nearly identical moves as Goron Link. The game's thr... read feature
Robot Entertainment is running a worthwhile Steam sale on Orcs Must Die! ($2.49) and its follow-up ($3.74) over the next day that marks the third-person action/tower defense games 75 percent off. Rela... read
Sequel stays true to its roots with four-player co-op
// Alasdair Duncan
We learned a few days ago Dungeon Defenders II would have a new competitive MOBA mode but today we had the reveal trailer for the traditional four-player co-op that hooked me and friends so well. It looks like we'll be playi... read
No Mac version planned When the original Sanctum came out, it took the indie world by storm. As a first person tower defense game in 2011 (that kicked ass by the way), it was pretty unique. Coffee Stain Studios looks to repeat that success wit... read feature