By Peter Magers on Thu, 03/01/2012
Jelly Oasis has graced the iTunes App Store with a tower defense game which boasts the extremely unremarkable title of Elf Defense. In fact, the title is so low-key that after playing the game, I almost wonder if they’re trying to hide their light under a bushel, because nothing else about this little gem is unremarkable and now on sale!
This impressive little castle defense game is designed with maximum appeal in mind. Backstory: Cute little elves tried to give their human neighbors the benefit of the doubt until said “neighbors” turn out to be ruthless warlords determined to breach elven defenses and… well, we assume they aren’t packing supplies for a surprise party. Their adorable targets, however, aren’t quite the pushover prey they expected. To defend the elven fortresses, the player will strategically place “defense towers” (this is not “tower” as in “tower defense” but rather the label used for a combat unit in this game). These towers can be upgraded during the levels, and a variety of towers and changes in ability as they are upgraded give the player a decent amount of flexibility in tactical planning, but they’re not the only line of defense the elven nation has, either.
Controls are pretty simple, and the impressive economy of design employed by the developers means you’re not dealing with the ridiculous screen over-crowding you get with some castle defense games. Tap a placement area, tap the unit type you’d like to place there, and voila. Since units are upgradable, you don’t have to be as anxious about scattering low level towers around (in terms of space; income might be a different matter).
Each level presents its own unique challenge, by offering multiple waves of a huge variety of different enemies. Each enemy type has its own unique attributes, requiring adjustments in player strategy throughout each level and throughout the game as a whole. The item shop offers even more material for players looking to extend their fighting capabilities.
Where Elf Defense truly shines, however, is in its aesthetics. Tower defense games seem to get shorted in this department more often than not. Whether it’s because the genre itself is more dated and doesn’t attract the same talent, or game designers simply aren’t usually inspired, I’ve seen more than my fair share of cluttered, muddy graphics peddled as tower defense games. That is most definitely not the case with Elf Defense. The game’s art direction is more than sound; I can say without reservation that this is one of the most visually appealing games in the App Store, across all genres. The music perfectly complements the bright, detailed graphics and the game’s delightful little animations complete the package.
Elf Defense, from JellyOasis, is one of the best App Store offerings you can pick up at the moment. And for those who are new to tower defense, don’t worry; adjustable difficulty and learn-as-you-go pacing makes this game as suitable for newbies as it is for castle defense vets. It’s only $.99, too.