TapDefense in Review: Three Fingers from Hell, Four from Heaven

TapJoy have entered what is fast becoming a staple diet in the App Store:  Tower Defense games.  TapDefense is contending with the likes of the stolid Fieldrunners and the newer genre oriented, Zombie Attack!; but unlike its competitors, is free.  

App Description:

Defend the Gates of Heaven from the enemies of Hell with an incredibly fun mobile TOWER DEFENSE game on your iPhone or iPod Touch.  

TapJoy is proud to bring you TapDefense — a new TOWER DEFENSE strategy game that you can take with you all day long.  Play for hours or salvage snippets of time on the go.  

In my last review I wrote about another addicting defender, BlueDefense! whose interactive playing system while fun has left me estranged on the train with other morning commuters. 

Presentation and Gameplay  
TapDefense is full stop the most addictive game I have dowloaded for the iPhone/iPod Touch.  It is not perfect but addictive enough that both my wife and have lost sleep and had our first argument over whose turn it was to play.  In fact, I am a ‘geezer’ when I play any game like Utopia or Civilization but she will steal my iPod in order to have a go at TapDefense.

How is it that TapJoy can capture the heart of my gamer-hater wife?  Firstly, even after downloading, the bills can still be paid.  This game is free.  B, there is no steep learning curve:  TapDefense picks up like an 80’s arcade game.  Thirdly, most levels last no longer than one minute, letting the player organise her thoughts, play and still manage a breather.  Finally, after each level and before the next TapDefense spouts helpful hints about the next level.  

That is essentially all you need to know in order to play.  The conundrum is how to win: an issue that cannot be discussed in this review as I am stuck on level 30 in easy and medium and level 8 in hard.  

There are three maps which differ only in the position of the main trail.  Some have commented that unlike Field Runners’ player designed trails, the fixed trail is limiting.  However, TapDefense’s system allows for very quick play and because of its may towers and research options, has hidden depth.  

Each tower has a distinct look and after a few minutes of play, you will find it impossible to mix tower types.  Unfortunately, the towers do not change appearance at all upon upgrading but there are dots to represent to which level it has been upgraded.  Thankfully, upgrading towers is very simple to do.  You merely tap the tower and an option will appear on the lower left to upgrade.  Although simple, it becomes ridiculously easy to accidentally sell the tower during upgrade – do be careful.

Making a Hell of Heaven
So, how well does the war between Heaven and Hell parade in TapDefense?  Truthfully, had the game not mentioned the scenario, I think it would be hard to guess.  Firstly, the ‘gates’ that represent Heaven and Hell look anything but gates and I am still unsure of what they represent.  Heaven’s gate could be an angel kneeling but it looks more like a bony hand and Hell’s appears to be burned suction cups that are set on edge.  


Also, enemies rarely look like their descriptions and move ceremoniously straight and proper in single file lines that comically swivel when turning corners.  My last complaint is with the sound effects/music.  Towers have unique sound effects but after filling a screen with enemies’ death grunts and triumphant roars, missile shots and the sounds of upgrading, your iPhone will become a cacophonous and annoying din.

Despite a poorly implemented sound system and comically uninspiring enemies, TapDefense remains my favourite game app from the App Store.  It is fast, easy to pick up and has a compelling research system and difficult gameplay.  No matter the complaints against any element, it combines the forces of clever design and a great price to make a game that is shaking up the tower defense genre in the App Store.  When the few detractors are fixed, this game definately will warrant a grab rating. 

App Summary
Title: TapDefense Developer: TapJoy
Price: $0.00 (free) App Size: 7,0 mb
  • Addictive
  • Easy to pick up
  • Challenging Gameplay
  • Research option is a fresh idea for tower defense games
  • Sound engine needs to be revamped
  • Tower upgrades need more graphical representation
  • Can cause marriages to crumble

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