REVIEW: Defend Your Castle (2008)

A videogame for Wii, Switch, PC, and More

A look at the perfect game for someone without a lot of cash.

When Nintendo’s WiiWare service launched I knew which two games I would get on day one. The first was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King, as I’m a fan of the series. The other was Defend Your Castle as I was a fan of the flash game and similar ‘defense’ flash games, and I needed something to spend my remaining points on. For those who don’t know, Defend Your Castle was originally a free online flash game boasting an infinite amount of levels of ever increasing difficulty. After seeing some screenshots of the Wii Version I was hoping the new coat of glossy paint would be a tease to a whole new array of features, but alas, Defend Your Castle for the Wii is almost the same game as its PC flash-based brother.

One thing that is immediately apparent is the hilarious quirky art style. Gone are the crude generic flash stick-man graphics from the original, now replaced with the art style of a child’s elementary school diorama. Not only do all the surfaces look like they are made of cardboard and paper, but there are strings holding up clouds. The soldiers are button-headed pipe cleaner guys; the bad guys are carrying Pepsi caps, cap gun circles and popsicle sticks; and your cursor is a plastic bread tie. This whole aesthetic really makes the game fun and hilarious from the beginning.

This whole do-it-yourself attitude is furthered by the sound effects as every movement noise, death noise and even explosions are done in a way not too removed from kids playing with toys. Imagine the noise you would make when imitating an explosion with a GI-Joe action figure; yep, that’s in there. These vocally-made sound effects are funny at first, but with a lack of music they get kind of tiring after a while. The game gets intense and almost stressful as it gets harder. As you are faced with wave after wave of soldiers there is not a sound to be heard other than the constant explosions and guys saying “ouch” sixty times a second. I actually felt this was a slight oversight on the developer’s part, and wish some sort of music was present.

The entire gameplay is based on picking up invaders and slamming them into the ground using the A and B buttons to kill them, and thus defending your castle. Each level lasts the span of one game day and once complete you are given money and your scores. With the money you gain you can replenish your “helth”; buy archers, magicians, or stone masons to strengthen your castle; or things like a “pit of conversion” that force invaders you join your side. This goes on until the villians start bringing out heavy artillery like bombs (cap gun circles), armored units (Pepsi caps), battering rams (popsicle sticks) and finally catapults (which surprisingly are little home-made catapults). This builds and builds after each level, all that changes is that the levels get longer and mass of enemies get larger.

A new factor which added to my enjoyment of the game was the fresh four player multiplayer, not present in the PC version of the game. You compete for kills as the person with the most is technically in charge of the next round. This element added both strategy, and in some cases anger, as you could divide up tasks like having one person guard the door while the person in charge handles the magic, etc. But when things started to go wrong yelling at the king was the norm in my game. “USE THE MAGIC!!” “DROP A BOMB!!”, etc, echoed throughout my house constantly.

Another thing this game has going for it is that it’s allegedly infinitely long – a plus if you like it. I doubt anyone will test this claim too much, as the further up you go the longer and more intense matches get, until you end up with one-and-a-half hour long levels where an endless stream of baddies is marching through your door.

The only really bad things I can think of, aside from a lack of music, are the lack of a large amount of enemy types (there are only five), and the fact that the game tries to give you carpal tunnel syndrome if you play it for too long. Since you are essentially waving your hand up and down frantically this has to be the most ‘hand destroying’ game I have played on the Wii. After one hour of playtime you are physically exhausted and not really in the mood to play games for a few days afterwards.

The bottom line is it’s a very entertaining game costing only five bucks, but many will tire before reaching the longer levels. When looking at the value of a game like this you have to weigh up the original free price tag against this version’s new features. The new art style, and cheats found in the credits are nice, but nothing shakes the notion that this is an only slightly updated version of a free game. I’d say that the multiplayer alone makes this game worth it, and justifies a purchase if you want some high octane fun with friends. Since Wii Ware is no longer a thing, you can’t really play the exact same version I have, but thankfully this is available on both PC vis Steam and the Nintendo Switch!

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