Feudal Japan is a place that I often dream about. I have always loved the Bushido, the way of the Samurai and the honor it entails. Growing up with the series Shogun, the blood spattered movie and comics “Lone Wolf and Cub” and identifying with Takeshi Musashi in the epic Musashi by Eiju Yoshikawa. Any game using the imagery and ways of war found in Feudal Japan gets my attention. When it also uses the same kind of lucid graphics as Okami for the Wii making it a living artwork I am sold.
Mikado Defenders is a set path tower defense game from classic developer Taito. For each of the available maps you get one to four entrances the beasts enter the map from. A set number of points indicated as circles on the path show where you can place your troops. Tapping a circle gives you the available units to place depending on available money. Tapping a placed unit lets you upgrade or sell it. For the story mode you can also choose to heal a fallen unit. If not healed the unit will regenerate, and come back by itself. Defending your base is what the game is about, and at the base a powered up special attack fills up by killing enemies. This dragon or guardian spirit of choice can be unleashed when your base is under attack, or if you just want to speed up the killing.
The game is paced in both rounds, and waves. For each round there are a number of waves indicated at the top of the screen. For each wave there is also a number of enemies indicated. Once you have survived a round you get to upgrade your base, and fortifications. Depending on the amount of money left you will get bonus cash. There aren’t that many things to upgrade or build, and when playing the endless mode there are no new things introduced.
There are two game modes, and sadly I find them both to be strangely paced. In story mode you don’t get enough time or challenge to upgrade your base. It ends too soon really, and it is better to focus on creating troops instead of buying better archers for example. The endless mode is too easy, and after about 20 levels the game starts playing itself. I maxed out the base at level 10, maxed out all my units at level 20. No beast has managed to even dent my fortification, and my castle is totally safe. Heck they are having a Samurai party inside with no care for the weak enemies attacking. Playing for two hours without anything to do is just a yawn. Actually I had it going right beside me in the stand from Elago. Just tapping to get out of the base upgrade screen without even reason to unleash my guardian spirit. The battery just ran out, and I doubt I will boot up the game again to see how many levels it takes until the base gets attacked. And even if it gets attacked there is little I can do. With maxed out troops already it doesn’t matter that I have maxed out on money.
The graphics are beautiful and organic like a living canvas. The battles are nicely animated as swords and claws collide. Zooming in and out using the pinch gestures shows this in better detail. The tutorial comes in 21 screens of text, and there is no story grabbing me at all. I found this to be somewhat strange as the game uses real locations, and could have a super cool story.
Music and sound effects are top notch, and you can play your own music alongside the clashing sound effects.
Mikado Defenders has got a lot of nice iPhone features such as autosave, ability to flip the phone and speed up button to make the gameplay quicker. I actually would like the triple speed to be the standard, and have a double speed on that. On higher levels in endless mode the game could even simulate the outcome as it plays itself.
There are no online functionality or multiplayer. To me the endless mode would probably need a high score leaderboard to be of interest. And definitely a change of pacing making it harder. There aren’t that many levels available, but the five available offer different challenges in story mode. More content, and a proper story mode would be appreciated. The game also tells me that there are unlockable officers but so far I haven’t seen any. The levels in story mode come with three different levels of difficulty, and I have yet to play on hard.
Mikado Defenders is definitely one of the better looking, and sounding tower defense games in a saturated market. If you utilize a good strategy the game becomes too easy, and starts playing itself. No online functionality also means that game life is seriously shortened. If you are new to the tower defense genre this might be something for you, but if you have already played Crystal Defenders, The Creeps!, geoDefence and Defender Chronicles this will probably bore you.
Mikado Defenders $2.99
Seller: TAITO Corporation