Tower Defense games are one of the most used up genre in mobile platforms. They’re usually space or future based with lasers and shields. Ever since the major success of Plants vs. Zombies (which is on almost every platform now you can think of) everything else was okay or mediocre. Kingdom Rush, by Ironhide is neither okay nor mediocre, it’s a masterpiece. It doesn’t take the Tower Defense genre any further than it’s been, but takes all good aspects of Tower Defense games to combine it all into perfection.
Straight off the bat, you can tell Kingdom Rush is a beautiful game. It’s not 3D and it’s not the tirelessly used pixel graphics, but it’s moving art. The fonts, the menus, the animations, and the characters/towers really pop out on the iPad 2 screen. The animations look fluid and the magic spells in the game fit well with the rest of the art.
I can go on and on about how pretty the game looks, but you really can’t appreciate it until you’ve played it yourself. One thing I particularly liked was the retro-Batman-esque words that pop out when fighting, like “POW!” or “ZAP!” That being said, the sound and music of this game is lacking compared to its beautiful visuals.
Kingdom Rush has the best gameplay of any tower defense game I’ve played. I would even argue it’s better than Plants vs. Zombies! As in most tower based games, your goal in each level is to prevent swarms of enemy mobs from reaching the other side of the screen, through the use of Towers that can be bought and upgraded.
You start out with 4 types of towers (Archers, Barracks, Magic, and Artillery), all with pros and cons that really force you to strategize. Each tower has several upgrades and some even have specific skills you can choose to specialize in. The depth of this game is surprising!
You also have 2 magic spells that run on a cooldown basis and does not need any resources to unleash. The 2 spells are summoning farmers to fight and a meteor shower. In the beginning both spells are pretty useless, especially the meteor shower.
As you play further, you gain upgrades to these spells and towers throughout the story (the story is mediocre but does not deter the fun) and through spending your well earned stars (Think Angry Birds) on an MMORPG type Talent Tree.
Each perk is exciting and innovative, as well as the game does not punish you for resetting your perks. This allows the player to re-specialize in a specific tower based on the level, which is extremely refreshing.
To further replayability and star collecting, each level from level 1 has 2 bonus stars you can attain by playing the same level again with harder enemies and/or restrictions on your towers. This guarantees you’ll be playing Kingdom Rush for awhile.
Get this game and you won’t be disappointed. One small negative about Kingdom Rush is that it can be tricky and difficult at times. The learning curve starts gentle, but can take a big spike in later levels. Nonetheless, it never feels cheap.
The animations, art style, and the surprising in-depth strategy really makes Kingdom Rush a steal at 99 cents. It’s sad but expected that a game this scale isn’t out for the iPhone. If you’re still on the fence, you can play for free on a flash-supported browser. Try it for free here! It’s not as good as touch screen, but you can appreciate the superb presentation!