I reviewed the original Virtual City (TMA Review) last year and found it to be an entertaining casual variation on the build-your-own-city theme. Though much closer to the Transport Tycoon franchise in spirit than SimCity, the mixing of various gameplay elements and the addition of quests to guide the development made for an excellent package. Building on this quest system G5 Entertainment has done what seems to be the fashionable thing these days and has gone freemium with Virtual City Playground.
Every once in a while, a game along and makes me truly admire the deviousness of the mind of its creator. The Tower Defense genre, though still relatively young, has probably seen everything but the kitchen sink in terms of gameplay variations. Top and side-view, fixed and open path, lacking in anything but the pure tactical placement of towers and the complete RPG package, rivalling some desktop roleplaying titles. We’ve even had elements of CCG thrown in. Well, Anomaly Warzone Earth HD is the proverbial kitchen sink, turning the genre upside down and inside out.
Not long after the triumphant march of Command & Conquer and Warcraft across the video games battlefield, one of the iconic developers of the era — Bitmap Brothers — released a unique spin on the RTS genre. Letting go of such traditional constraints as resource management and building construction, it pioneered the Action/Strategy genre with the unique and witty Z The Game.
When the iPad first arrived on the scene many called it “just a big iPod Touch”. To which others often replied “Well, yeah!” Indeed even if in principal it IS just a big iPod Touch, the real estate of 9.7 inches is much much more comfortable to play with than that of the iPhone’s 3.5″. And it makes such games as Companions – a real-time tactical strategy/RPG game – possible.
One of my first ever reviews for TMA was of Palm Heroes Classic, an adaptation of the legendary classic Heroes of Might and Magic 3, for the iPhone. Of course, having been originally developed for Windows Mobile, it had its flaws – mostly on the interface side. Still even in those early App Store day, it offered a unique experience on par with the classic desktop Strategy/RPG. But time doesn’t stand still and now almost 2 years later, the developers have released the sequel Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe for iPhone, this time built from the ground up for the iOS.
For Turn based strategy fans, the long wait on the iOS is over. Square Enix has finally released what is arguably the best TBS RPG of all time - FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS. Originally released in 1997 on the Playstation, it went on to sell close to 2.5 million copies worldwide and was eventually released as War of the Lions on the PSP in 2007, with extra content like all new jobs and scenarios. The iPhone version is essentially a port of the PSP, though Square Enix has managed to speed up loading times and optimized the visuals. The only downside to the game is it’s premium price tag – $15.99 – which could scare away more casual gamers. But I’m sure hard core fans of the classic TBS will have no qualms picking it up to relive the epic adventure. And for those of you who’d rather play this on the iPad, you may want to hold off for a bit as that version will be released in the fall. Launch trailer after the break…
FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS, 457 MB – $15.99
I really like this genre of puzzle game. Older patrons might liken it to Reversi or Othello, but apparently modern players like to mess with things like board size and the actual pieces themselves. As a result we get cool variants like Battle Slugs. Or at least it should be cool. Aesthetically the production values are great, and they try to add a lot of replay value by making you work to unlock additional locations to play in. Unfortunately, I think the difficulty level is a bit too high. For all the games I’ve played so far I’ve only unlocked one new location, and unless I missing something I only have one board configuration available, which does tend to get a bit old.
Every once in a while, a game comes along and literally tears down a genre and builds it anew, usually with a bar that is almost impossible to attain. In the genre of RTS that game was Starcraft, released by Blizzard in 1998 and still regarded as one the best strategy games of all time. Sadly, the great Blizzard has not yet graced the iOS with their attention, leaving the gap wide open for would-be upstarts to claim the Starcraft-shaped piece of pie. And unsurprisingly, the first one at it is the prolific Gameloft with Starfront – Collision™.
A few years back when the Tower Defense genre had just only started to make its first baby steps on the App Store, a game took the Crown by storm. Still regarded as one of the best Tower Defense titles of all time, Defender Chronicles – Legend of The Desert King gave birth to the side-scrolling TD genre, additionally offering a compelling story and deep RPG elements. Now, sometime later a wannabe successor – A Knights Dawn – strives to overtake the bar set by the famous ancestor.
Tower defense games have become synonymous with winding paths full of bad guys, protective offensive structures that can be upgraded, and more recently, guiding heroes that have a trick or two up their sleeves. Drake’s Tower takes the genre back to the basics, giving you one tower to control and upgrade to the hilt as you protect your little piece of land against wave after wave of zombie invaders. The fact that your playing area is so limited in scope gets a bit tedious at times, but once you start getting into some heavy action you’ll forget about that. Not being a huge fan of the TD genre, I’m finding Drake’s Tower to be a refreshing deviation from the norm.