I read once that the hard part about being a video game reviewer is sitting through terrible games and then having to spend time writing about them. That can be said if you work for a major gaming magazine or online portal. You have to have news, content and reviews for everything under the sun.
We’re a little smaller here at Darkain Arts and, while I have done my share of reviews for games that looked terrible to start with (and were so) this is a game that looked like fun … and is!
For just $1.99 (or 200 points on DSiWare) the game is worth the money and is a nice twist on the standard ‘connect three like items and make them dissapear’ genre.
The genre started, for me at least, with Bejeweled. You have a playing field full of differently coloured jewels and you can clear them by lining up three or more jewels of the same colour. Once you do so more jewels fall into place to fill the void and you try and line up more jewels. This goes on virtually forever with more colours added to make things more difficult.
Wizard Defenders follows the same basic premise with a few new ideas.
First your Nintendo DSi is flipped on it’s side and is held like a storybook. The playing field is filled with cute multi-coloured wizards on the touch screen. The upper screen is filled with monsters that slowly advance towards the wizards. Line up three or more of the wizards to cast a spell and destroy the monsters.
Sound simple? It’s actually refreshingly tough.
If you line up three or more wizards horizontally they will shoot a magical arrow towards anything in its path. If you line up three or more wizards vertically a magical wave will be created that will blast towards the monsters consuming three (or more) tiles wide.
There are multiple types of monsters which you will face, with different coloured creatures varrying in strength. A blue blob may take one hit. A yellow one may require two. Additionally some monsters can’t be defeated with an arrow and some are immune to the wave, so you’ll have to be sharp and send the right type of attack at the right time.
You’ll also face the occasional wave of monsters, giant monsters and boss monsters, but this is the same every time with seemingly no random monster generation.
One difficulty I had playing is that your playing field is not full all the time. Instead of in other games where you always have ‘jewels’ to work with, once you match up wizards they fly away and leave the playing field. Additional wizards do refill the field but do so slowly. There is a button to hold down to make them fill up a little more quickly, but that’s still a bit slow.
Often after playing for a little bit I don’t have enough wizards to link together to defeat the onslaught of monsters coming my way. Facing four scorpions, which take two hits a piece, and having only seven wizards simply doesn’t work. Even with constantly holding the button down to ‘hurry up’ and fill the screen it is often not fast enough.
When the monsters do get passed your attacks and reach the edge of the touch screen, your wizards are pushed backwards as a row of sharp thorns appear. This happens every time and the monster is destroyed creating the thorns. These can thankfully be destroyed by using magical blasts directly beside the thorns.
Another difficulty I had was the fact that blasts sent from rows further back take time to reach the touch screen and don’t attack instantly. So on multiple occasions when the monster is getting close I ‘waste’ a blast to destroy a monster after it’s too late. My blast destroys the monster just as I’m getting hit with thorns of floats uselessly through an empty field ‘missing’ the monster that was destroyed creating the thorns.
A helpful feature that is included is a blast which charges up as you defeat monsters. The blast can be used to destroy all of the monsters on the field and clear away some of the thorns in your way. You start with one blast and get another blast for every 99 points you earn, up to a maximum two blasts.
The game is 100% touch screen based with no use of the buttons at all. Using the stylus you can slide the wizards around the playing field to line them up and make chains. One clunky aspect of the controls is that you cannot ‘slide’ a wizard passed one that is blasting and has to move around. When there are lots of monsters this causes some frustration as you can’t move fast enough and have to slide the with around. If you don’t move around correctly the wizard gets stuck and ends up in the wrong place.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
The game has a very cutesy look and feel with cheerful music and engaging sound.
This title is entirely an arcade experience. With no story to speak of it is a good pick up and play title. It’s too bad that there is no variety to the gameplay with different modes or challenges. While there are multiple difficulty settings, to make the monsters move more quickly to start or add more colours of wizards, it would have been nice for some variety in gameplay. A challenge mode would have been nice.
The game is fun and has some lasting appeal, but the limited number of gameplay options makes it tough to keep playing again and again with nothing new. I would have enjoyed it more if there were different levels or environments to unlock or advance to. All in all though this is fun and well worth the 200 Points.
Puzzles, Strategy | Teyon | Rated:E | 200 Points
7 / 10
Fresh and enjoyable gameplay; looks and sounds great;
Control can be tricky; occasionally not enough wizards to destroy all monsters