More Tower Defense Games

During my convalescence yesterday, I had the chance to rock out on a few more Tower Defense type games over on Kongregate.

I continued my forray with Bloons5. I’ve played some earlier version of Bloons years and years ago, and I must say, a lot of the improvements are rather impressive.

The number, combinations, and available upgrades of the various towers is mindblowing. But in one way, this is one of its downfalls. The tracks are so long, any real failure means starting from scratch, I found that I just could not bring myself to finish the first track on hard. I made it super far, wave 70-somethingish, but with dozens of zeppelins, I just could not stop them. Previously, i’d been saving only after particularly difficult waves; this had the advantage of giving me a few easier waves to adjust my strategy and build up in varying ways to overcome whichever my next big stumper was. Unfortunately, the wave of infinite zeppelins followed immediately after the last crazy hard wave I’d saved after, so I didn’t have enough lee-way to make serious adjustments in my strategy.

After having 3 super monkeys, over half a dozen catapults, half a dozen missile launchers, several ninjas and boomerang monkeys, 4 or 5 nail launchers, 4 snipers, 5 chain-guns, a wizard or two and god knows what else, I’d be damned if I was going to start over with one dart throwing monkey just to have a shot at mixing things up enough to even get back to where I was, much less finish it.

I ended up playing a different track on medium and beat it without any trouble at all, but it just didn’t feel rewarding.

Something I guess I’d like to see is more staggerred saving, so you can roll back to previous waves and try new things rather than either get saved into a corner or have to start from the very beginning.

I also played another game called Demonrift, which was another Tower Defense style game. King is dead, Demons have conquored the kingdom, yada yada yada. I have mixed feelings about this one. There were some things that I really liked, but a lot of things I felt could’ve been done better.

The good:
-I liked the turn-based overworld economy system. You would get resources for winning battles as well as recurring resources from the towns you had liberated. These resources could be used for purchasing various upgrades to units or to build improvements on towns that would give you benefits in combat. I’d like to see more stuff like this implemented in TD games.
-The mobs were widely varied with decently detailed sprites.
-LOTS of strategic points along the paths give you a lot of flexibility in your setup.
-Even though they’re kind of a game-breaker, especially when you get them down to where they only cost 19 more than archers, i really liked the golems.
-The main character whose role the player assumes is a pretty badass lady, Baroness Milena, which is cool, despite her poorly designed armor. The Warden lady’s armor makes a bit more sense. For the most part, Milena is a pretty good example of how to have a female vidya game protagonist.
-Did I mention the golems?

The bad (or more like what I’d like to see):
-Even though I liked the economy, I feel like it would’ve been nice to more directly integrate it with the battle systems.
-Your own units are incredibly bland. For a long stretch, the only towers you get are archers and soldiers. Upgrading the towers only increase the number of mans appearing at those towers. Even if you get various upgrades from the overworld, there’s no visual change to your little guys.
-Spawning is super slow. It feels like it takes forever for a guy to come out of a newly built tower, and if you’re not careful the mobs will just walk on by leaving the soldier twiddling his thumbs.
-Despite having the flexibility to do a lot with your setup, there’s not really much TO do. You create a few choke-points with blockers and just slowly fill the rest of the map with archers.
-One of the things I thought was really cool about Kingdom Rush was the hero units. I’d really have liked to have Warden playable, if not Milena.
-There is a princess who is rescued. We never see her. She’s the heir to the kingdom who the Baroness rescues, but she’s not actually a character. At all. No art, no dialogue, just ‘well, we have the princess now, so if we win the war, the royal line will not have been broken’. I feel like more could’ve been done with her.

Demonrift is an older game (2011), but if they ever make a sequel there’s a lot of places to make improvements worth checking out and, if you’re thinking of making your own game, a lot of ideas to borrow and steal.

At some point all of this might culminate in how to run a tower defense style encounter in your game, but first I want to play more video games.


Milena's actually a better character than her stupid boob-armor implies.

Milena’s actually a better character than her stupid boob-armor implies.


7 responses to “More Tower Defense Games

    • So far, I’d have to say Kingdom Rush and Kingdom Rush Frontiers. While I really liked Cursed Treasure, which has a similar feel, Kingdom Rush’s integration of infantry and missiles is really appealing.

      I’m rediscovering my love of Kongregate and its hundreds of free games…

  1. I played one a while back that had a variant style of play — which gave you all your cash upfront to buy and upgrade towers, and then you had to sit through the waves and see how well you could do.

    It was fun to play a few levels where you could take your time designing your tower layout and choosing your upgrades, then just relaxing and watching the enemy crash upon your defenses like waves…

    That game at least, allowed you to “advance” to the next wave if you wanted — taking multiple waves together for bonus income.



    • Hmmm. That does sound interesting. One of the hardest tower defense games I played was totally free-form. Mobs came straight across from one side to the other; only your towers could change their paths (so long as you didn’t completely block off the field), unless they were fliers.

      Anyway, probably in the next week or so, I’ll have some ideas cooked up for how to use tower defense style games to help model large scale battles.

      • There ought to be a place — somewhere between Hero Defense, Tower Defense, and traditional wargames — where large-scale battle Nirvana is found.

        Wargames from my experience, model large-scale conflicts very well but often miss out on some details. Hero Defense like DOTA and others can really provide satisfying game-changing tactics. Tower Defense is like eliminating troop maneuvers from wargames to focus on pure numbers. Honestly, it’s like… within reach! It must be! D:


      • The short version would be take a turn-based board-game-like RPG experience like 0e/4e, stuck in a set-piece with ranged characters taking potshots and melee characters acting as blockers. It would probably need to be used in battles with pre-determined outcomes, such as rear-guard action, fighting against an invading swarm, etc. but I think that it could be a model for a pretty rewarding experience.

        Really, one of the reasons I like Kingdom Rush so much is because the infantry aspect creates a “zone defense”, where you can stick the troops anywhere within the radius of the tower, including on different paths. Armored bruisers passing a mage tower? Knights run interference. Hellhounds suddenly coming down the other path? Shift them over, the towers can handle the slow movers. Hellhounds dead but the hero still slugging it out with the necromancer? Send em back to give a hand!

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