IGN Review of Desktop Tower Defense
The whole world of flash games is a very dangerous thing. Don't get me wrong, I dig me a nice game of Peggle every now and then just like everyone else, but once some of these otherwise-free or "on the cheap" gaming experiences hit it big people start to see dollar signs, and things can get out of hand. In the case of something like Peggle – I already mentioned it, so we'll keep picking at it a bit more – the title transitions very well. The core concepts are too fun to pass up, the presentation is spot on for consoles, and everything feels well worth your cash . Here on DS the handheld offering of Linerider is another good example of a game that's doing a lot of things right despite having a small hint of cash-in emanating off of it. In the case of Desktop Tower Defense though, I can't help but feel like it's more about cashing in than expanding the game's audience.
Like the countless tower defense games before it, Desktop is all about placing down turrets and defeating creeps as they spawn into a stage and attempt to exit the other side. With Desktop, everything has a very basic, pixel art style, and while that's perfect for the platform (and easy to pull off in-browser online as well) there isn't any real style to the experience. One of the creeps is a circle, one is a triangle, one is a small slime-like character, and another is a different, larger circle; not super inspired. This works fine for a flash-based game since you aren't required to drop any cash for it – heck, Desktop is one of the fastest loading and easily accessible of its kind I've come across… try typing it in google for a second – but on the DS people expect more for their cash, and to a certain extent that call was answered.
The core style is still the same as the free online game, but the DS version also takes a page from THQ's own Drawn to Life, allowing players to go into the game's art set and literally change every frame of the game, be it creeps or the towers themselves. The editor is pretty simple – you won't find as much precision or as many options as DTL – but it works, and is really the only reason I can recommend the game to even the most die-hard players. More titles need to follow this formula; not necessarily in the art department, but in the concept user-created content.
Unfortunately that's where the charm ends with Desktop Tower Defense, as the core game is pretty much identical to what you can find free online. Adding to the annoyance of it all though, the core offering just isn't that compelling compared to the hundreds of other tower defense games out there. On DS things are pretty sparse, but again THQ's own Lock's Quest (more a tower defense RPG) shows what a true development cycle with plenty of cash can do. Desktop Tower Defense doesn't hold up to even $5 iPhone games, and while I'm not out to compare apples to slightly different apples, there's a perception of what you should get with a portable TD title, and Desktop is just too thin.
I could see some hardcore Desktop fans picking this one up still, but in order for you to really sink time into the game you'll need to get over a few of the game's annoyances as well. Nothing is too intuitive, so placing towers (what could be a double tap with the stylus) is actually faster with the d-pad and buttons due to the game's control style. Interface icons don't always click when you tap them, text entry for your profile is even odd, sometimes sticking on a letter instead of switching to the newly-tapped choice, and while the game offers a few sound effects settings and musical tracks they won't alternate, so you actually need to go into the options menu and pick what song you want the game to play. Whatever plays in the menus will also start over when kicking off a new game; just odd. If you can turn a blind eye to those issues there's actually a lot of challenge content, art sharing via local wireless (so you can send your buddies all your newly-created creeps and towers) and more options than you could ever hope for in a by-the=books tower defense game. What you won't get, however, is much style, polish, or any kind of Wi-Fi connectivity for leaderboards or the like. It's a very simple, very low-budget offering.
©2009-06-18, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved