Even with its impressive track record of top-notch titles, can Ngmoco breath enough new into the genre to make Star Defense a title worth buying?
3D Worlds: Moving the traditional tower defense game to 3D planets gives the genre an interesting new flavor that impacts not just the look of the game, but also the tactics. In Star Defense, attacking aliens wind their way toward your base around tiny round or square planets. Because the planets are 3D and small you have to constantly spin them around to see what's coming next. You also have to think a bit more in 3D when it comes to tower placement, making sure you take advantage of that shifting horizon.
Multiple Paths, Levels and Challenges: Star Defense includes seven different plants, each of which has three difficulty settings and a challenge mode. There are also a bounty of commendations to earn as you fight to protect the colonists from alien hordes with five tower types. Finally, you can upload your high scores to Facebook and Twitter for bragging rights.
Crash: Gamers should never have to suffer a crash while playing a full-fledged game they've paid for. What makes Star Defense occasional crashes (I had three over the course of two days) more painful is that you lose your progress on that particular level. On one of my crashes I was just three waves away from completing the level when it crashed.
The tower defense genre, especially on the iPhone, is becoming dangerously over-saturated, so it's important that developers explore unique twists on the mechanic. While this doesn't reinvent the genre, it offers enough new to the way you play the game to make it worth picking up. It's quite a blast to see a tiny planet studded with towers and infested aliens and then zoom in to watch the stream of invaders get evaporated by your towers.
Also of note, the game will support both free and paid-for expansions, including new galaxies.
Star Defense was developed by Rough Cookie and published by Ngmoco :) for the iPhone and iPod Touch on June 8. Retails for $5.99. Played through six planets on my way through the galaxy on varying degrees of difficulty. Played a couple of challenge levels.
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