Sketchy Tower Defense
Developer: Pixel Troll Games
Genre: Strategy & Simulation
Available On: Xbox Live Indie Games
Co-Op Mode: Local (2 players)
Price: 80 MS Points ($0.99)
Demo w/ Co-Op Available: Yes
Tower Defense - subgenre of real-time strategy (RTS) games [see Starcraft]. This particular category of game can trace its roots back to the early days of gaming when we yearned for news of the latest Nintendo or Sega release. While Rampart may have been the early prototype, it wasn’t until the modders for games like Starcraft and Age of Empires began crafting and designing their own maps that we started to see the rise of tower defense. It then soared with the release of the Flash games Flash Element Tower Defense and, perhaps more infamously, Desktop Tower Defense.
Since then, we’ve been defending towers, homes, and other various structures from aliens, robots, zombies, and whatever else all those creative types can think up. However, it feels like the more creative things get, the more it pulls away from that basic, simple concept that made Desktop Tower Defense (DTD) so addictive: survive as long as possible. Having played through a fair number of tower defense games, I found Sketchy Tower Defense’s simple hand drawn art style and straightforward “defend this place as long as you can” objective completely refreshing... and every bit as addictive as my first time with DTD.
There’s really not much to be said for the game’s gameplay. You build towers, enemies come from one, two, or more directions, you upgrade your towers with the coins they drop, and you hold out for as long as possible. It’s a fairly tried and true tradition, at this point, yet it’s one that’s seen so many variants since its initial inception that this “return to basics” approach feels like a breath of fresh air from all the “it’s tower defense like you’ve never seen before!” out there. The graphics, too, are evocative of a more simplistic time within the genre - favoring hand drawn, sketched, if you will, towers and enemies in lieu of the stunning hi-res stuff.
When it comes to co-op play, it’s as easy as a second player picking up the other controller, and pressing start. He/she will get her own initial set of funds with which to start building towers, and any coins picked up by either player as your towers down foes are shared equally. The cooperative elements come into sharp focus as you and your co-op partner hash out exactly how those coins get spent. Perhaps you’ll both spend them on the cheap, easy to build towers to go for a “death by a thousand cuts” approach. Perhaps your partner will focus on basic defense while you save up to get the deadlier, and more expensive, towers. Either way, you’ll still reach those tense moments when you realize your well-laid plans just won’t cut it and you’ll have to throw up some hastily constructed towers to (hopefully) shave off those last few bits of health from a foe that’s about to lead the innocent citizens of your town to have a very bad day. Should such a thing happen, though, take heart: there are a total of five maps against which you and your partner can test your mettle.
It’s not a game that took millions of dollars and thousands of hours to develop, but Sketchy Tower Defense is precisely the type of co-op game that got many of us hooked into co-op gaming in the first place. It’s simple, it’s addictive, and it’s fun. It’s the kind of game that you pop on and play for a few minutes with a friend while you wait for some patch to download; or when you just need to kill some quick time before dinner. It’s nothing new... but it doesn’t need to be. All it needs to be is precisely what it is: an entertaining distraction.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with another player to build towers and survive against an endless horde of enemies for as long as possible
Sketchy Tower Defense is Geared Towards: Tower Defense fans