Defcon 1 for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Developer and Publisher: Side Project Games LLC
While I find it highly unlikely I’ll be wiped out by way of global
nuclear war, there’s not much I can (or am willing to) do about the
matter. I can however live my life and have fun with the idea that the
entire human race could be stupid enough to warrant a planet-wide “Darwin Award“. DEFCON 1 is an iPhone/Touch action/strategy game that shares this laugh with me.
I don’t have a problem with game clones, but they have to improve the original concept or “reimagine” it well. DEFCON 1 does both right. It is essentially a prettied-up and enhanced Missile Command
clone with one key difference. Now you can fire back! At the beginning
of the game you will pick one of 6 countries, varying in strengths,
weaknesses and difficulty levels. The countries are obviously based on
real-world countries, with barely altered joke flags,
tounge-in-cheekily renamed to sound more like ethnic restaurants. The
game uses simple graphics but the lighting and particle effects and
competent sound-work really sell it.
After choosing a country,
war will break out between you and another country. You and the
computer take turns firing and defending, only pausing to purchase
special attacks, defenses and abilities. The defense phases play a lot
like Missile Command. You hold the iPhone/Touch in portrait
orientation and simply tap around the screen to launch defenses against
the enemies attacks. You cannot, however, see the entirety of the
playfield during this phase and you’ll have to tilt the device to look
left and right. This is intentional so the enemy can sneak in attacks
if you’re not attentive enough. During the attack phase, you hold the
iPhone/Touch in landscape orientation and can see the whole playfield.
Tapping and dragging down will send the attack of your choice in that
position and at the angle you dragged. I often experienced what seemed
like a bug in this phase that forced me to fire only from one location
in the sky for a few seconds, only allowing me to alter the angle. It
only lasted a few seconds but happened very often. Luckily it’s not too
Both phases only last a few seconds each and you
have the option to activate various puchased special attacks, defenses
and abilities when they’re available. (My favorite is the “Death
Blossom”, a defensive ability that fires a wild volley of sidewinder
missiles to take out most incoming attacks.) You’ll face off until the
population of either country is completely obliterated. After wiping
out a few opposing countries, you win!
Overall, the game is just about what it should be and does great things with the original Missile Command
formula by expanding on it and adding elements of tower defense
strategy games. I do have some issues. The game needs more polish, is
under-documented and the UI is a bit vague. Because of this, I wasn’t
always sure what was a bug and what was just confusing and
undocumented. The developer told me a v1.1 is coming soon to address
some of this and it’s not a huge problem as it is. The game is also a
bit unbalanced (“National Festival” ability, I’m looking at you!)
making the game a bit too easy until the higher difficulties when the
enemy spams the “National Festival” ability making them barely hang on
to life for much too long. This is also a game that begs for
multiplayer. It could even be done via simultaneous hotseat multiplayer with some clever design. A freeplay mode with more options would be great as well.
Despite some flaws and omissions, DEFCON 1 is an absolute must for fans of Missile Command.
Anyone looking for an action-packed and flashy iPhone/Touch game will
certainly be pleased as well. It’s currently on sale for $1.99 USD
until April 16th. (Face it! The best games are rarely 99 cents!) and it’s worth the price.
Bonus!: Fans of this game may also want to check out a computer game similiarly titled, DEFCON.
It’s quite different and much more of a strategy game but the two games
make great companions. One is action-packed, while the other is a
nail-biter. They could be theoretically joined into one behemoth uber