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June 12, 2015

Defend Your Castle

This is gonna suck, isn’t it? I can tell when something is gonna suck, and I get the feeling that this is gonna suck. Then again, I’ve been wrong in the past… but this one, I don’t think I could be wrong. This looks sub-par even for an Internet-based game. I really wonder why I paid 500 Wii Points on this and not on something better- Ah yes, wait, I remember. I had bought only for 10 dollars of Wii Points, and I had already spent half of it on songs from the Just Dance 2015 store. Silly me. But hey, at least dancing to Papaoutai was fun, and Gangnam Style was good workout, so… I guess it doesn’t really matter?

Oh well. Defend Your Castle is one of the stranger ideas on the WiiWare section of the Wii Shop Channel. It kinda looks like something put together in a day by a single creator on Newgrounds. With minimal means.

Good thing it starts off pretty simple...
The idea behind the game is that you have a castle, and you have to defend it from incoming invaders (represented by freaking stick figures). At first, all you can do is grab the invaders with your godly powers, raise them high in the air, then letting them fall to their doom. At the end of a level, you can pay points from your score to upgrade your castle, repair its walls, increase its defenses, and all that stuff. As the levels go by, you find that more and more stick figures are coming, and you can’t keep up anymore. At some point, larger beasts come by, and you cannot lift them; instead you must click them three times.

Thankfully, you’ve got more tools. For a large sum, you can buy a “conversion pool” of sorts. It allows you to rally an invader to your side given you drop it in the pool instead of letting it crash to the ground. After a couple seconds, you end up with a new ally, and the pool comes back, letting you recruit another stick figure. I wished recruiting in real life was that easy.

“So, we’ve checked your curriculum vitae, and sadly you do not correspond to what we are looking for. However, this is not a problem anymore. Here, step in this pool and we shall begin the conversion process. In a matter of seconds… you will become the perfect employee for this company.”

Um… all things considered, forget what I said. This is terrifying!

Your castle can then be split in four sections:
The Demolition Lab provides blasts of happiness that also
prove very useful in destroying the opponents. KABOOM!
- Archery, where the arrow-happy all gather. In their pastimes, they get drunk on cider, play William Tell, mock the King’s robes and insult losers in online forums. All they do is shoot an arrow once in a while to kill one of the incoming stick figures. Don’t count on them too much. Also, I'm probably stating the obvious here, but they're huge fans of Sterling Archer.
- The Demolition Lab, which houses the Dynamite Men. Of a rather, um, explosive temper, those guys are also party animals and really want to have a blast. Contrary to popular belief, their favorite song isn’t Taio Cruz’s Dynamite, but rather Bruno Mars’ Grenade. Always ready for a fiesta (or as they call it in French, “une boum”), these proud warriors think life is too short to be wasted… because they’re gonna get blown up to smithereens when you send them on the battlefield. …Yeah, I forgot to mention they were a tactical suicide squad, haven’t I?
- Stone Masons, who live in the Work Shop, are the more practical portion of the army you’ll build. They don’t attack, they just repair. This little horde of Fix-It Felixes really hates to see castles getting destroyed, so they do everything in their power to prevent the imminent destruction. Never mind the fact that these all used to be invaders setting out to attack that same castle… However, they’re treating their task with so much serious, it’s almost like a religion. Or a sect. Either way, Freemasons are about to become a reality in the world of Defend Your Castle.
- Last but not least, the Mana Pool, where all the wizards get together to discuss the best ways to turn a love potion into a hate potion, give your little dog wings, turn a canary into a rat or turn a viper into a Prime Minister. Oh wait, they already learned that last one, and they used it plenty of times already. Anyway, their job is to throw spells, but they tend not to be too quick, so don’t count on them either. Fun fact: Most of them used to be forum losers harassed by the archers.

Buy the upgrades giving you access to these four sections, for you’ll greatly need them as time goes on.

Two things you’ll notice pretty quickly in this game are the soundtrack and the graphics. For one, the soundtrack is nonexistent, there is very little music. (Must verify whether there’s music in the other parts of the game) As for the sounds, they’re all sounds made by someone with their mouth. All of them, from the stick figures falling to their doom, to the conversion pool taking an invader in, to the explosions… All done with mouths. That’s what gives the game a damn weird feel. So, does that mean this is a game with a speaking role? …Not really. As for the style, the feel of the graphics, it’s… kinda strange. Everything looks like it was made by a child during art crafts class. As I mentioned earlier, the opponents are stick figures. The castle seems to be made of tubes, the background, the clouds and other decorative elements are construction paper, the conversion pool is a pot of paint (which, now that I think of it, means a kid has been playing with a poisonous substance if ingested), and some figures are holding popsicle sticks as weapons. The score screen and the upgrade menu really emphasize on that aspect, showing many similar crafting objects, indicating that this style was intentional. So… I suppose that means lame is the new fad. Kitsch is coming back? Man, all my kitsch-iest clothes are torn! I can’t take on the tacky!

And then I remember that this game came out on the WiiWare in 2008, so all my attempts at tackiness are futile and about seven years too late. Hurray for me. It almost came back, once, last year... it didn't catch on.

So, that’s basically all there is to this game; beat stick figures, upgrade your castle, raise a badass crew, get points, spend points, survive as long as possible. That’s really the only challenge here; once you’ve bought every unit upgrade, all you can really do is upgrade your castle by increasing its amount of HP. Which is just about as boring as it sounds; they could have added more upgrades to the units you can hire! Imagine being able to upgrade these lame archers so that they shoot as teeny tiny bit faster, or that their arrows do double damage on the toughest mooks! Or what if suddenly the Freemasons – oh, pardon me, the stone masons – could rebuild the castle just a bit faster! Oh well, I guess that was too much to ask.

While I'm at it, the stone masons just remind me of this.

Attack of the millions of stickmen Clones.
Now that I think of it, this game does have a multiplayer option… but it's not really a competition to see who kills the most invaders. Well, you can arrange it that way, but it’s more along the lines of cooperative play. If a single player, with his single cursor, can do this much damage and destroy that many enemies, just imagine how far two, three or even four players could theoretically go in this game. They could reach levels that no single player would have ever been able to reach! Sure, you can make it into a competition, since all four players' scores are calculated and the winner gets to decide what the next upgrade(s) will be... but even then, the main appeal of multiplayer is being able to go much farther than a single player could.

And now… Um… I’m at a loss of words. I covered everything that was in the game. We’re not even at 1,500 words. Fine then, I’ll just talk. Have you ever heard about a story where a bunch of criminals ends up in a laboratory where a scientist and her husband are conducting a creepy-as-fuck experiment on dreams? I mean, my God, if you want to sleep, don’t read that book. What’s the title… Man, I forgot. There’s like an empty space right where the title would be. I just remember it was the name of the house the lab was in, and the name had a connection to dreams… or something. I mean, it’s not as bad as that other book by the same author, where a misanthropist billionaire organizes the deaths of an awful lot of people through a reality show! …Yeah, I have a preference for horror when I’m reading. …Anyway… I think I filled enough space. Wow, this had never happened to me before: Running out of things to say about a game. Guess there’s a first time for everything, huh?

That's what little Timmy does in kindergarted?
Methinks the kindergartner isn't taking good care of him.
Alright, so what did I think of Defend Your Castle? Um… Honestly, I’m torn. On one hand, I think 500 Wii Points was too much for such a simple game (though, to be fair, that’s the minimum price for anything on the Wii Shop Channel). And I would never have expected to pay for stuff I can find online for free. Well, okay, except that one game about Tower Defenseon a desktop… or maybe that game… which I don’t remember anything about, exceptthat it had crosswords… So yeah, my surprise was even greater to find out that first and foremost, Defend Your Castle was a Flash game, with blood and guts, and a completely different style. To release it on WiiWare, they had to cut out the blood, so they went for this new style, a game made out of construction paper and other crafting materials. The style may feel weird, but it’s intentional. Even the mouth noises are intentional, meant to go along with the “purposely cheap” style.

Throw stuff and see what sticks.
So, it looks cheap, but what about the gameplay? Is it fun? Well…. I got to admit, it’s enjoyable. The simple gameplay makes it easy to learn, easy to appreciate, whether you want to play it for a couple minutes or a few hours. Although, I’ll be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t play this game for a long time. After a while, it starts feeling a bit too repetitive, and the waves of enemies grow to become so large that you can’t really keep up. You want to go far? Play with friends. Cooperation is the key to success!

To note: This game doesn’t really have a plot. It’s just “you get attacked, you must defend yourself”. Eh, I guess “no plot” is better than “cliché after cliché in a story we’ve seen too often”… kinda like, uh, I dunno, Super Paper Mario maybe. Seriously fed up of Jesus symbolism everywhere. Even freaking Man Of Steel did it.

That's what the upgrade screen looks like.
The kid making this game has issues.
Also, it can get addictive. When I bought this game, I found myself playing well over an hour. I went pretty far, too; I had bought everything important, I was now at fortifying my castle and recruiting more invaders thanks to the conversion pool. In my case, it was addictive for a bit, though I found myself kinda bored by it kinda quickly after that hour had passed.

My only other problem with this game is that it’s a 5$ version of a game that can be accessed for free. The only gameplay difference is the inclusion of the Multiplayer Mode, and even then, that’s not much. Every other difference is in the game’s visuals. I don’t really like to pay for things that you can get for free legally… but I still have to admit, at least this game is fun. Is it worth 5$? Not in my opinion, but that’s just me. Feel free to spend money for it if you want.

Alright, so that concludes my review of Defend Your Castle. Next week, a Top 12, and the week after that, a new VGFlicks review.