I’ve often tried to understand the irresistible allure of the Tower Defense genre. Apparently, protecting a territory from a succession of malicious marauders evokes some kind of primordial instinct. Why else would games as diverse as Space Invaders and Rampart effectively utilize the same motif? Despite playing a deluge of iPhone, console, and PC diversions with a nearly indistinguishable premise, I approach each new TD title with a sense of unconcealed enthusiasm. Clearly, developers have their claws deeply embedded in my psyche.
Hudson’s Elemental Monster TD for the iPhone skillfully combined this defensive determination along with another facet of the gamer’s consciousness- the drive for collection. By augmenting the requisite elements of a Tower Defense title with card accumulation, the diversion became immensely compelling. Now, the developers are hoping to lure in PSP owners with an adept port of the game that’s been rechristened as Creature Defense. With the exception of the adding a few Eye of Judgment monstrosities to the game, not much has changed in the adaptation. Although the small flaws in the original iteration of the title make a return, so does the card-collecting and creature-quashing satisfaction.
Like most games of its ilk, Creature Defense presents waves of increasing potent of enemies, hell-bent on the obliteration of the player. To oppose these nefarious foes, players place infantry units on the game’s meandering path, which each antagonist travels along. By strategically building a security force of slimes, monoliths, centaurs, and warriors, the gamer halts the impending procession, collecting gold for each kill. These additional resources allow players to purchase additional sentries, to safeguard against stronger and more populated processions. As typical of the genre, opponents come in ground-based and flying varieties, each requiring specific tactics for extermination.
While players may augment each emplaced combatant, they also have to be dutiful with the selection of cards they take into battle, as well as the game’s elemental system. Each of the game’s five elements- earth, water, forest, light and darkness, has a single strength and weakness, giving the title a slight tactical slant. Players may attempt to check the ratings of each card/character before entering into the fray, although brute force will occasionally allow gamers to unceremoniously surpass all 50 waves of a stage.
The visual highlight of Creature Defense are the game’s hand-drawn cards, which help elevate the game above its TD peers; it’s too bad that there’s a bit of palette swapping to increase the size the collection. The in-games visuals are capable, giving players two viewing perspectives- a scrolling, detailed view, or the ability to see the entire battlefield. Sadly, the game’s energetic electronic soundtrack conflicts with the game’s setting, and repeats far too often. After hearing the same minute-long refrain multiple times during a stage, players will be reaching for the mute button.
Although a plethora of Tower Defense diversions exist for gamers, Creature Defense’s deft integration of card collecting gives the title a distinctive feel. While the massacre of innumerable foes is handled competently, the game’s grind-heavy nature means players will be repeating levels with uncomfortable frequency. If gamers are comfortable with a bit of repetition, then Creature Defense should satisfy any desire to build an impenetrable bastion.