Kingdom Rush in Review – I’ll Take My Time To Enjoy This One

The tower defense genre is one that has always eluded me.  Sure you have to construct towers (or some sort of defense) and possibly upgrade them during a level, but a bulk of each round is spent simply watching as hordes of monsters parade along a route and your equipment picks them off.  Thankfully, though, over the course of time there have been a few that have bucked this trend, Kingdom Rush being one of them.  Between constant interaction, interesting level design and a ranking system that allows you to buy permanent upgrades to your defenses, Kingdom Rush takes enough simple steps forward to push it ahead of the crowd.

Kingdom Rush is a port of a Flash game, so if you’d like to try it first you can seek out the web version.  There is a campaign mode where you fight several waves of creatures on each level with everything you’ve earned upgrade-wise up to that point.  There are also 2 challenge modes on each level that are accessible for that level once you’ve earned three stars on the level.  These modes have fewer waves of much tougher enemies and they place restrictions on what you have available to build.  Couple that with more than 50 achievements and there is plenty of game to play here.

There are four base tower types that can be upgraded once constructed. Sometimes there will be additional structures already on the map that allow you to purchase specialty troops.  Successfully completing a level earns you between 1 and 3 stars, and an additional star can be won for each of the bonus modes on a level.  In turn, these stars can be used to buy additional permanent bonuses for each of the tower types.

In addition to the towers you can place two peasants – called “reinforcements” – anywhere along the path every 10 seconds.  They aren’t real strong, but they can stall enemies for a bit.  There is also the ability to launch flaming meteors at your enemies, but this power can be imprecise and it takes a lot longer to regenerate.  That said, it is still useful in a pinch.

I like the level design, because it’s not a simple “point A to point B” layout.  There are often multiple starting points and / or places where the creatures can deviate along the path.  There are even nifty tricks like mine shafts that let sneaky critters go from one part of the board to another without getting touched.  There is a nice variety of villains, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and a wave can consist of multiple creature types instead of just one type at a time.

The graphics in Kingdom Rush are great.  The backgrounds are hand drawn and full of nifty little details.  The character and tower designs are slick and everything is extremely well animated.  If it weren’t for the fact that there really isn’t time for it, I find it easy to get caught up in watching the battles.  There are even little words to punctuate the fighting like in the old Batman TV series.  The only real down side is that everything is so tiny, though I am impressed at how well the animation comes across despite that.

The sound effects are pretty good, with different attacks and different creatures having their own noises.  The best part of the sound effects, of course, is the witty voiceovers.  It’s just a shame that the bad guys don’t have some comebacks every once in a while (at least the ones that can theoretically speak).  The music is quite riveting, and really compliments the intensity of the action.

If every tower defense game could be like this, I might actually warm up to the genre.  The choices aren’t overwhelming, yet there is enough variety to keep things interesting.  The interesting level design forces you to try different strategies on each level, and the upgrade trees mean you could play through more than one time without playing the exact same game twice.  A solid presentation and responsive controls round out the package to make what I feel is one of the most entertaining tower defense games on the iOS platform.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Kingdom Rush™Developer: Armor Games Inc
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:4.3
Price:$0.99App Size:
  • Great level design
  • Cool ranking / upgrade system
  • Decent but not overwhelming variety
  • Slick audio and visuals
  • Nothing significant

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