TowerMadness delivers TD formula from a new perspective

Posted: May 25, 2009 in Tower Defense

When it comes to gaming, the iPhone/iPod Touch platform has made great strides over the past few months in terms of 3D graphics and animation. TowerMadness is an open/non-fixed path tower defense game that not only attempts to provide high-performance 3D visuals but also offer a unique online experience as well. And, to a certain extent, TowerMadness succeeds.

TowerMadness has a free camera perspective so you easily view the action from overhead or pinch all the way down for a first-person view. So you can literally watch aliens walking down the path or get a close inspection of the weapons. Visually, the game looks very good even though some of the characters can appear a little blocky. TowerMadness includes a graphics mode option intended to help those with slower, older generation devices. The animations are very smooth and lag free on my iPod Touch 2g.

The game comes with 4 maps categorized by difficulty:
Easy—Plain Plane (unlocked)
Medium—Divided Attention
Hard—Mutton’s Folly
Madness—Danger Meadow

People will question the value of 4 maps, but there is an online component that I will go into shortly. The objective is to protect a herd of sheep from 16 different enemies consisting of aliens, bugs, and flying vehicles of varying sizes and strengths depending on the map. By destroying enemies, money is earned to buy weapons…typical TD concept and from that perspective, nothing new. And, as long as you still have one sheep left in your possession at the end of the game, you win and the next map unlocks.

When first launching the game, you have the option of creating an online profile, which I suggest you do. Upon doing so, the game automatically asks if you would like to download additional content, in this case, a new add-on map. I can already envision updates, additional maps, and features will be done through this process instead of through iTunes. The new install took about 10 seconds over my wi-fi connection.

TowerMadness takes online scoring to a new level with replays. For every player and score listed, you can view a replay of the game in its entirety from different angles. Need strategy advice or want to know how someone scored as high as they did? All you need is a wireless connection to view it right on your device.

TD games are all about weapons, and in TowerMadness, the 9 weapons each with 5 upgrades are categorized into three areas—Energy, Explosive and Lightning—and they are available based on the specific map.

Energy: Plasmatron, Laser Cannon, Railgun

Explosive: Mortar, Guided missiles, Flak

Lightning: ElectroSlow, ElectroShock, ElectroBoost

One of the things that TowerMadness does nicely is weapons/tower upgrades. Because the game is in 3D, you can see the physical changes with each upgrade. I know a common complaint with TD games is the lack of physical changes with upgrades, and that’s definitely not an issue with TowerMadness.

Also, a section called Towerpedia is accessible from the main page showing statistics on each individual weapon in terms of cost, range, damage, and even how many seconds it takes to build and upgrade. It’s easily one of the more extensive weapons overviews I’ve seen in an iTunes game.

A few things to note on the game screen—available money is shown in the upper left-hand corner, score in the middle, and # of sheep in your possession in the upper right-hand corner. At the bottom of the screen is the Menu button in the bottom left-hand corner, scrolling list of enemies in upcoming attack waves in the middle, and a start/timer button in the bottom right-hand corner.

On each of the maps, arrows show the path of the enemies, which is a helpful guide especially when dealing an open path format with multiple enemy attack entry points. The gameplay is pretty challenging since enemies are free moving, and the AI is well balanced looking for alternative paths to get to the sheep. I found placing and selling defenses easy and complication-free.

At the heart of TowerMadness is a traditional TD game that is challenging and entertaining. While I’d like to see more details added to the graphics, the first-person view and the online component demonstrate how the platform is changing. I’m still amazed by the replays on the global high scores list, and I can foresee wider adoption of that in other games. While I doubt this will turn non-TD gamers into converts, TD fans should definitely add TowerMadness to their gaming library.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for TD fans; an impressive 3D game with a strong online component for downloadable content)

Check out the article on TouchArcade at http://toucharcade.com/2009/05/25/towermadness-brings-a-new-perspective-on-tower-defense/

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