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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Friday Free Game: Tower Defense

This week's game exemplifies all of the virtues of the perfect Friday Free Game: it's free, web-based, easy to learn, and it's a ton of fun for about 10-20 minutes at a time. It's called Tower Defense, and I surprised myself by coming back to play this one again and again after I found it. It's definitely a low-tech game, and I feel that I will be hard-pressed to convince you via descriptive prose that it's fun. But for some odd reason, it is. And I'm still not sure why.

For me, Tower Defense evokes memories of StarCraft Flash Action III (FFG 07/21/06) in that the premise is familiar to everyone who's ever played a real-time strategy game: defend your base from a steady stream of invaders by strategically placing towers that attack them. In this game, rather than Hydralisks and Zerglings, you have black dots as your enemies. And instead of Photon Cannons and Rail Guns, you have different colored cylinders that swivel and jerk, looking for those dastardly dots.

The game begins, giving you twenty seconds to set up some towers for the first wave of enemies. Click on a tower type and then click somewhere outside the path to place a tower. There are five types of towers: fire, water, nature, storm and flower. Each has a different cost, a different range, and different damage potential, and most of them can be upgraded over the course of the game. For example, at the basic level, the storm tower does the most damage. But it's not upgradeable. The flower tower is very expensive and one strategy is to try to save up enough cash just to buy one, though I haven't had much success with this approach. The fire tower does good damage in the early game, but can't keep up with the range and power of the nature tower later on.

When ten dots have run your gauntlet of towers, the game is over, and your score is equal to the number of waves of enemies you survived. I've gotten as far as wave 67. What I've learned is that the placement of the towers is just as important as their types. For example, if you place a nature tower close to the center of the board, it can hammer away at your enemies for a long portion of their trip. This seems to be the key to getting to the higher levels, but the right balance and combination of quantity and quality is still a process of trial and error. The creator of the game says that he made it to level 90 and challenges you to beat his score. I haven't gotten there yet, but I've had fun trying. Check it out and let me know what you discover along the way.

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Comments on Friday Free Game: Tower Defense
  Comment from Blogger gnome at Saturday, January 13, 2007 10:06:00 AM
Ah, you're back and all free-game tower-defending. Nice. BTW, how are your game creation attempts doing?

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.