Little Blue is feeling down. His penguin village is always under attack, and mean-spirited arctic predators are always stealing the town's supply of fish. But one day Little Blue stumbles onto a solution -- he tosses a snowball at a thieving crab, and the criminal crustacean drops the fish he was trying to steal. A new idea is born, and Defendin' de Penguin begins.
Billed as a kid-focused real-time strategy title, Defendin' de Penguin follows the continued efforts of little bird Blue as he works to protect his village from increasingly dangerous -- and numerous -- hungry predators. It plays like classic tower defense games, as you use your resources to build defensive turrets around your town and try to make their placement and firepower balance out to ensure that no foe gets through.
Well, not "fire" power so much. More like ice power. Everything in Defendin' de Penguin is kept in line with the polar theme, so all of your turrets will have some kind of reliance on the winter elements for their ordnance. The basic, normal emplacement hurls endless snowballs. The upgraded models fire large ice chunks, or spearing icicles. You can even get a rapid-fire ice cube machine gun -- I think the door dispenser on my freezer once broke and turned into one of those.
The demo unit available to play in Crave Entertainment's upstairs showroom here at E3 introduced each of these units as it introduced the concept as a whole, taking new players like me through a simple, structured tutorial to get things started. And it's clear that this is a simplified, entry-level tower defense game that is really meant to be a young gamer's first step into the RTS genre -- every design element is introduced slowly, and the game takes its time revealing each individual mechanic. The patient pacing is welcomed, as it allows a new player to fully grasp every aspect before moving on to the next.
Some of those other elements -- besides the standard construction of auto-firing turrets that defend your central town -- are the fact that your mascot, Little Blue, is always active on the screen; that he can move freely around the map to pick up dropped items from fallen foes and retrieve collectible resources; and that he can jump inside of any turret on the map to give that specific turret a temporary boost in offensive power. It's satisfying to achieve an early mastery of these building blocks of the basic design, as you'll build your turrets, "equip" Little Blue inside one of them, watch the enemies fall, send Blue running out to grab their dropped collectibles, and so on until victory is achieved and the storehouse of fish is declared safe for another day.
Defendin' de Penguin isn't going to blow any hardcore gamers away with its visuals or sound, and long-running fans of the RTS genre will find its core gameplay to be too simplistic and unchallenging. But this game isn't meant for the hardcore, or for long-running fans of the RTS genre. For the audience it's intended for -- the young gamer who's never played any strategic game at all before -- this could be a great first step into the concepts of the genre.
I myself have played plenty of hours of StarCraft
over the years, and would love to introduce that kind of game to my young nephew. But he wouldn't know where to start if I threw him right into the middle of a Zerg rush -- he'd be confused, frustrated, and wouldn't gain any kind of appreciation for the appeal of the RTS category. With a game like Defendin' de Penguin as an intro, though, I could easily envision him not only understanding the concepts, but also really enjoying himself. He'd be able to gain confidence and comprehension through the simpler, slower play style offered here, and it would be an experience that would ultimately set him up well to succeed in a more complex RTS like StarCraft sometime in the future. That's the sense that I walked away with, after my time playing Defendin' de Penguin here at E3. And that's the sense that might just make this little kid-focused tower defender a success.
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