By Eric Pankoke on Thu, 07/16/2009
Things were starting to look up with the App-A-Day project. First there was Pegburner, which despite some control issues was a simple to play, challenging to master "connect the numbers" game. Next came Tumblecaps, a fresh take on the whole match 3 genre of games. Now we have Trounce, which is basically a combination of "defend your castle" and "squish the ant". The sad thing is that it could have been a lot of fun. Unfortunately, in its current state it feels more like a prototype than anything.
The concept is simple: defend your town from an onslaught of demons. All you have to do is press your finger on the groups of demons before they reach the town. Be careful, though, because sometimes a cart will come along, and those you must allow safe passage to the town. It seems simple enough, but there's not enough to the game to make it sustainable. At the top of the screen is a health meter, and when that runs out the game is over. I'm not really sure if it ever fills up, because I'm too busy watching the action down below. Every once in a while you level up, though I'm not sure how and not sure what benefit leveling up provides. And, because you're finger / hand is all over the place squashing demons, this game suffers more than a lot of others from the "can't see because of my hand" syndrome. Oh, and did I mention that because of the size of the demon groups and the size of the cart versus the size of my finger, it's pretty easy to accidentally squash a cart when you're trying to get a demon.
First and foremost, the game could use a much better explanation screen than the current one, which basically says "squash demons, don't squash cart, save castle". I'm paraphrasing a bit, but you get the gist. Second, since the town is already there, make user of it. As my health is depleted, take buildings away. And, if I ever do get health back, put the buildings back. Don't make me look at the meter at the top of the screen and take my eyes away from the primary action. Next, make the carts useful. When they reach the town, maybe they give me some life. Or maybe they freeze the demons for a bit, or even clear the screen. Give me some reason to want to save them. Finally, make leveling up mean something. Maybe my defenses get stronger, or who knows what else. There's nothing worse in terms of leveling up, however, than having no reason for leveling up in the first place. It makes the whole game seem anti-climactic.
Graphically the game is okay, but we're heading back towards the "I'm first learning paint" type imagery that plagued the first couple of games. On top of that, the cart and demon images are really small. That's not such a big deal for the cart, but sometimes it makes the demons hard to see against the background. There are no sound effects except for a brief noise when you level up. This is a shame, because who doesn't like a good squishing noise. And, a simple whiney from the horse when a cart reaches the town would have been kind of nice. The music is actually pretty good, and while I don't think it's the case, it sounds like it came from the same place that the Tumblecaps tune came from.
I think there's a lot of potential here, but unfortunately I think the premise of the App-A-Day project got in the way of this title becoming anything more than just mediocre. As a result, I'm going to have to give it a C+.