Since I got my first iPhone, however many years ago that was, I stumbled upon a game called Fieldrunners. I hadn’t had much exposure to the Tower Defense genre before that, but I fell in love with my first endeavor instantly. I proclaimed it to be the best game on the iOS platform and played it incessantly over the course of months. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I was always planning new strategies; waiting excitedly for every tiny update that would be implemented.
I’ve played many, many iOS games since then and more than a few have caught my full attention, but no other tower defense game has had me at “hello” like Fieldrunners. Yesterday as I played through Kingdom Rush, I realized the king had been dethroned.
Kingdom Rush is gorgeous. Its an obvious sentiment from the moment you boot it up, but one that is still necessary to stress. Every character, every aspect of the map, even the icons look beautiful. If you have a Retina iPad, I could recommend you get it just to see how good something can look in motion on that screen. I would also have to recommend it to anyone with any device that can run the game, because it’s one of the best games I’ve played this year on any platform, period.
It starts out as a pretty basic tower defense game, but quickly evolves into some of the most intense gaming you’ll have on an iDevice. Rather than plop some towers on the screen and watch the results over the next 5 minutes, Kingdom Rush refuses to let you be disengaged in the combat even for a moment. It seems so simple, but it also seems like something that should have been there all along; the inclusion of a costless, infinitely refreshing power that you have access to every 10 seconds. This power is the ability to place two characters on the map at any point to help fight a few enemies, or to use at your will as cannon fodder to slow them down.
Now of course this isn’t the only thing Kingdom Rush brings to the table, but it is a sign of how brilliantly the developer has implemented small things to make their game reign over all other tower defense games. You also have access to troops you can move around on the field, the constant reminder to send new waves of enemies in early for bonuses, and a last resort power of sending meteors to the field when things get tough. All of these build up to the most frantic and exciting tower defense game I’ve ever played. If you, like many, feel that “Tower Defense” is synonymous with “Slow, sluggish, mindless strategy game” you need to head straight to the nearest iPad and try the most refreshing game the genre has seen in years.
The upgrade system is incredibly addictive to, while still allowing flexibility for however you want to play any given moment. By completing levels well, you will earn between one and three stars. WAIT, WAIT PLEASE WAIT. Yes, I know iOS games have fallen into a trap of just handing stars for the sake of handing out stars. I still like games that include this system (Angry Birds, Cut The Rope, half of the games on the platform [basically] [I kid because I love]) but here your rewards actually mean something, and you have a reason to put the time in to go get all of them.
Every star you earn counts as one upgrade point you can spend on your skill tree. Once you put a star in, you have permanently upgraded one of your towers or abilities, earning them all kinds of cool new powers. “But I don’t like having to spend points in skill trees, what if I don’t I don’t like one of my abilities, or one of them becomes useless later on?”
You hit the reset button on the lower left hand corner of the screen. Literally, that’s it. You tap that button, and all of your upgrades are set to square one, and you are free to put your points into whatever you choose. Something as simple as this saves countless frustration and I applaud Ironhide Games Studio for adding it. There really isn’t anything quite as satisfying in a video game than when you see a developer who knows what people want, and has the talent to execute nearly flawless game design.
Honestly, I applaud the developer for the entire product that they’ve managed to put out for a measly fee of $2.99. I actually purchased the game on the 4th of July sale for $.99 cents, but would have gladly payed whatever they wanted me to for it had I known what I was getting in return.
I don’t think it matters what kind of game you enjoy, Kingdom Rush is just a fantastic game that I think everyone needs to try. Put aside your predispositions of what you think of the iOS platform or Tower Defense games.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s about a 100% chance that I’m going to go play more Kingdom Rush. There are Kingdoms…to…uhh…Rush!
Image Source: www.kingdomrush.com