Co-Op Casual Friday: The Tower Defense Spectrum
In the past decade or so, the tower defense genre has spread like wildfire across the video games landscape. We look at the co
In the past decade or so, the tower defense genre has spread like wildfire across the video games landscape. Birthed in player-created maps for games like Warcraft 3, tower defense features strategic, compelling gameplay combined with an addicting "just one more try" aspect that makes for an excellent experience. Tower defense has gone mainstream, with countless variations on the formula featured on websites, mobile devices, and even consoles.
A wide range of people enjoy tower defense games due to their ubiquity; you might find a co-worker, friend, or relative that has never touched a controller or used their PC for anything other than Office and Facebook, yet they might play Desktop Tower Defense constantly. It is this for this type of person that this article is intended. We will take a look at some console and PC tower defense games, ranked roughly in order from the casual and very new-player friendly to the more intense, traditional gaming experiences. If you have an acquaintance who enjoys tower defense on her iPhone, try a few of these games, and you just might end up with a brand new co-op partner.
There's a very good chance that even the newest tower defense fan has played Plants Vs. Zombies. It is extremely popular, almost Angry Birds level, and is available for almost every platform known to gamerkind. And there's a good reason for this, since the stoic, adorable plants and hilarious, decidedly non-creepy zombies are quite fun just to look at. The more complex tower defense elements like mazing are absent, offering instead a smooth learning curve and a reasonable pace that is very forgiving to new players. The Xbox 360 version is definitive, with more features than any other version, including a two-player adventure mode as well as co-op specific maps. If you are going to play one tower defense game with an inexperienced player, Plants Vs. Zombies should be it.
The next logical step upward in complexity is the adorable Pixeljunk Monsters. The art style is as cute and inviting as Plants Vs. Zombies, if not more so. It is far more traditional than the previous game, though, but not so much that it would be frustrating for a new player, especially one playing in co-op with a more experienced gamer. One key tower defense skill, recognizing chokepoints and other advantageous positions for tower placement, is a big part of Pixeljunk Monsters. In the co-op mode, both players share research and upgrade gems, which is another nice touch. This is an excellent choice of tower defense game for the player who is almost, but not quite, ready to hit the more traditional games.