Let me start with a key detail. Robo Defense for Android has a free version, but I will be reviewing the full version, which costs three bucks. I still decided it was worth writing about, because it is just so addictive. You won’t find killer 3D graphics here, nor will you find a very engaging soundtrack (unless boom-boom-boom sounds are your idea of “engaging”). What you will find though, is a deep, lengthy game with a serious habit-forming potential.
“Tower defense” just about covers it. For the uninitiated, this is a genre of games where you get a top view of a map, and your job is to keep the baddies who emerge from one side of the map to make it alive all the way out the other side. To accomplish said job, you’re equipped with an impressive array of guns. You must place these guns strategically, and then upgrade them even more strategically, to make your enemies pay.
When I say “pay”, I literally do mean pay. Tower defense games, Robo Defense included, have a strong budgetary aspect. Each gun costs money, and each upgrade also costs money. You earn this money by killing baddies. And just like in real life, not all enemies are made equal. Some enemies are harder to vanquish than others, so they’re worth more when they die.
Starting A New Game
Before you begin a game, you can pick one of ten levels of difficulty, as well as one of six maps. The difference between maps isn’t just cosmetic, but each map actually has a different number of exit and entrance points. In fact, there is an infinity of maps, because one map type is called “VR Training” and looks like this:
When you select VR Training, you get to enter a specific map code, or choose a random one:
Once you start, you get a random map with its own unique set of entrance and exit points:
This can be done because the graphics used in VR Training mode are even more basic than in the rest of the game. To make this a bit more visually appealing, I will be using The Factory map at the easier level to demo the game.
Before you begin, you get a quick screen with some basic instructions:
And this is what the map looks like at the beginning of a new game:
As you can see, I have three types of guns at my disposal, as well as an initial budget of $25. The cheapest gun costs $5, and I personally prefer to place as many of these as I can at the beginning of the game. My own tactic consists of building a “maze” my foes must step through, to maximize the amount of fire each foe must take to make it to the other side. So after a short while, the map looks something like this:
This is actually an extreme case, just for the sake of the demo. I wouldn’t normally do something as dull as this, but I wanted to show you a gauntlet through which enemies must pass, which is composed just of the most basic gun. Now we can start upgrading some of the guns:
I went for the Flame Tower, which basically roasts enemies on site. This defensive array doesn’t take one key thing into account: air strikes. Later on in the game, enemies start cruising through the map on helicopters or jet fighters. If you don’t have any surface-to-air defenses, you can do nothing about this. The number within the heart on the top-right corner (“17” above) shows how many enemies can still go through the map alive before the game is over (i.e, how many “lives” I have left). 17 sounds like a large number, but it takes just a few waves of fast jet fighters to make it.
So let’s sell a few of these cheap cannons and install anti-air guns instead:
What you see in the top-right part of the screenshot are a couple of surface-to-air missiles. These do nothing against ground-based enemies, but are essential for defending against jet fighters and other airborne baddies.
Like in many other Tower Defense games, you can fast-forward the current wave of enemies (by hitting the Fast Forward button on the bottom left corner). You can also pause the game, naturally, though Robo Defense won’t let you build or upgrade your defenses while the game is paused (other games let you do this – for example, Armored II: Tower Defense).
The Long-Term Score
Okay, so you’ve played one game, and got all the way to the end. Now what?
See those “Earned Reward Points”? Let’s see what you can do with those:
The Robo Defense title screen has a Reward Points option, which brings you to a menu full of goodies you can purchase using your hard-earned points. It’s important to understand that the “earned reward points” is a total of all points earned from all of your games, not just the last one. So every game you play goes towards advancing your Robo Defense career and improving your arsenal.
Let’s see some of what you can buy:
Those are the simple rewards you can buy, but later on, some rewards can require as much as 500,000 points, including things like double bonus for each enemy kill.
Robo Defense obviously has a great deal of depth and long-term playability, and I am obviously a newbie at it. I did not write this review from the standpoint of someone who has played the game for ages (as my Reward Points sum clearly shows), but mainly to show how easy it is to get into, and how alluring it is to stay in.
What’s your Earned Reward Points total, and what are your winning strategies? Let us know in the comments (screenshots welcome!).