Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not creepy, but tons of fun

The Creeps! $0.99 In-depth review

I have to admit it.  I'm finally getting tired of Tower Defense games.  I did a review and strategy feature on a few of them several months back, and since then I really haven't played much.  That is, except The Creeps!  Now, I'm not yelling at you.  The exclamation point is actually part of the name.

What's so different about The Creeps! that gives it such longevity?  Well, several things.  Read on. If you saw my reviews of Tap Defense, Fieldrunners, and 7 Cities (post 1, post 2), you'll know that different companies are pretty good at developing new and interesting approaches to the same old (new?) tower defense genre.  Fieldrunners and 7 Cities both contained two game types: one that ends when you beat all the levels and one that keeps on going until you lose all your lives.  The Creeps! does one better: it has 3 gameplay modes!  Okay, now I am yelling at you.  But let's go back a bit and talk about the game itself.

The Creeps! is a tower defense game.  And like all other tower defense games, you have enemies moving along the screen attempting to get to a goal.  You place towers, which cost money and come in different varies, to destroy your enemies before they get through.  If you let too many enemies get through, you lose.  Simple.

In The Creeps! you are the intrepid defender of... this little kid's bed.  He's creeped out because there are monsters literally coming out of his closet to get him.  Yeah, I'd be scared too.  The monsters move on a set path to the bed, where the kid's head is poking in and out from under his covers.  A recent update to The Creeps! from its creator, Super Squawk Software, adds some new towers and maps, adding to the longevity.  Now there are several graveyard maps, Mars maps, and undersea maps.

Regular maps can be played in Survival Mode, where you play a map for a certain number of waves and then you're done.  They can also be played in Endurance Mode, where you play an unending number of waves... well, unending until you die of course.  I'll get to the third mode in a bit.

The cool thing about The Creeps! is something I hadn't seen in any previous tower defense game: the ability to target certain enemies.  When it gets crazy, sometimes it's good to be able to tell your towers who to fire on, especially when one monster is just about go get to his goal.  With other games, you just have to rely on the game's A.I. to decide who your towers want to kill.  But that's not all.  The Creeps! features other inanimate objects that sit on the map that you can target with your towers.  There is some delay time in between waves of monsters that you can spend to get extra points and money from destroying these random objects.  They include trees, headstones, rocks, coral, and other stuff.  When these obstructions are destroyed, you can build towers in their place.  In harder levels, this adds an extra element of strategy in that you cannot win w/o clearing out most or all of these objects - there simply would not be any room to place your towers otherwise.

The above is especially important in the new and cool mode that Super Squawk added in the newest update.  It's called Doorbuster Mode.  As I said before, enemies come from the possessed closet door and move along a path to get to the kid's bed.  In Doorbuster Mode, your main goal, aside from destroying enemies, is to destroy the door from which they come.  The door takes a long time to destroy, so you need to get your hits in in between waves of enemies, and you need to upgrade your towers accordingly.  In some doorbuster maps, you cannot even place a tower close enough to reach the door until you've destroyed enough inanimate map objects.  Lots of fun.

I've written this much and haven't even talked about the enemies and the weapons!  I'll go through those really quickly.  The enemies as well as all the surroundings are really cartoony and colorfully drawn.  The game is fun to look at, really.  In the Mars and Graveyard maps (of which there are plenty), enemies include ghosts, zombies, vampires, mummies, and other horror film staples.  The sound effects, especially the sounds the enemies make when they die, are superb and hilarious.  I especially like the vampires saying "Ow, zat hurts!"  You really have to hear it for yourself.  In the underwater maps, you encounter creatures like sea urchins, eels, crabs, tiny whales, and snail-like things.  In all maps, every once in a while you'll run into bosses, which are simply larger versions of the regular enemies.

The towers really go along with the cartoony theme of the game.  Your main weapon is a toy ray gun that shoots blue laser beams.  There is also a boomerang, which homes in on enemies and causes explosion/splash damage.  The tower I like a lot from a creative and stylistic standpoint is the glue bottle, which is this game's version of the "goo tower" that slows enemies down.  I mean, it's a freaking bottle of glue!  How cool is that? Anyway, we also have a flashlight, which is kind of like a lightning/tesla tower, and a paper ninja star.  Ooh, those paper cuts hurt.  All regular towers can be upgraded up to a third level, which makes them faster and do more damage.

There are also super towers that work for a limited time only before needing to recharge.  These include a UFO that does massive damage to whoever it's hovering over, a giant black widow that does super glue effects, a tornado that can carry enemies backward or just keep them in one place for an easy kill, and an oil can that allows you to muck up the path that enemies travel along.  All these super towers cost a lot of money but can really be game changers. They also make use of the iPod touch or iPhone's accelerometer.  You tilt your device to control their direction.

The Creeps! is good enough for me to ramble on and on about it in this post, and at $0.99 it's really a no-brainer for anyone interested in Tower Defense.  If you didn't think the others were for you, you may want to reconsider and try this one out.  I believe there is also a Lite version.