A little while back on the Newbiverse Podcast, Gambit and I spent a couple of minutes gushing about how awesome Kingdom Rush was. We heaped praise upon it to a degree that’s, honestly, a little embarrassing. It was a bit like listening to a couple of dads talk about how awesome their kids were. Everybody understands, but you still wind up sitting there thinking “Jesus dude, we get it. Move on.” The reason it was a weird to hear us talk about Kingdom Rush in such glowing terms is because usually when we, here at the Newbiverse talk about mobile gaming it’s to scream our lungs out about how much we hate Candy Crush. Mostly we hate it because if we had known you could make literally all the money by ripping off Bejeweled, repackaging it, and then selling it to middle-aged people we’d have been on that shit in half a second, and you wouldn’t be reading this article because I’d be too busy issuing edicts to the natives that inhabited my private island. So basically we’re just pissed we didn’t think of it first, but whatever. So why were we fawning over Kingdom Rush? Well, the simple answer is because it’s freaking awesome. What, you want details and justification? Oh, very well.
Kingdom Rush, (developed by Ironhide Game Studio), is a tower-defense game franchise, with three entries in it to date. There’s the original Kingdom Rush, and then subsequently Kingdom Rush: Frontiers and Kingdom Rush: Origins, (incidentally the only prequel I’ve ever liked). For those of you who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, a tower defense game presents you with a map with spots on it where you can construct a variety of buildings and towers. Through this map runs a path(s) that your enemies are trying to navigate. Your job? Stop’em. The towers and buildings you deploy are designed to halt or kill the enemy by a variety of means; archer towers deal damage at a distance, barracks allow you to deploy your own troops onto the path, mage towers provide special magical abilities, and so forth. The core mechanics of these types of games are pretty straightforward and simple. However, Kingdom Rush enhances this by giving you the ability to drop reinforcements in regular intervals wherever you need them on the map, as well as the ability to drop meteors and lightning storms that can wipe out whole swaths of attackers at once. What really makes Kingdom Rush special though, at least to me, is the flavor and flawless execution that Ironhide brought to the table. Set in a fantasy realm that lovingly pokes fun at some of our most beloved nerd institutions (The Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, Elder Scrolls, etc.), the games take you on an epic, occasionally silly journey that I don’t want to spoil too much, but suffice to say if you keep your eyes peeled you’ll see homages to everything from the Asterix comics to Skyrim and World of Warcraft. It’s an incredibly engaging experience from start to finish, and never stops being fun.
HEROES FOR ALL OCCASIONS
Each of the entries in the series features several hero characters with unique abilities and traits that will aid you in fending off the hordes of enemies that you’re tasked with stopping. Trust me, you’ll need their help. Three heroes are available for free, and the rest are available for purchase. Normally, this is the part where I’d bitch about microtransactions, but I can’t. I had absolutely no compunction about paying a couple of bucks here and there for the heroes. These games are not free, but they are priced very attractively (as low as $0.99 on the iOS and Andriod app stores if you find them on sale), and the sheer amount of content you’re given makes the purchase of a couple of heroes a no brainer. The calculation I do in my head when it comes to Microtransactions/DLC is pretty basic; do I feel like I am getting “x” worth of enjoyment/playtime out of this game? If the answer is yes, then I will happily toss the developer a few bucks for some additional stuff. You don’t need these for-purchase heroes to play or beat these games, but they are worth buying because they enhance the experience and each of them has a distinct set of powers that allow you to play the game in different ways. Some can hold the path by themselves, others can instantly teleport from point to point; a couple of them can rain down fire on entire portions of the map and fry an advancing group of enemies like a group of, uh, things. That get fried. Hey listen, Daylight Savings Time messed up both my daughter’s sleep patterns, which means they aren’t sleeping so neither am I. So shush.
THE PERFECT TRAVELLING COMPANION
A few of weeks ago I had to fly out to Los Angeles, be there for a day and then turn around and fly back to New York. That’s about twelve hours in the air over the course of three days. I fucking hate flying. I hate the whole experience, start to finish. And you know what got me through those seemingly endless hours in the air? Kingdom Rush. I spent the vast majority of my time in the air completely immersed in these silly, beautiful, fantastical little games. They’re so good that they can distract me from one of my most hated experiences while I’m in the thick of it. That’s about the highest praise I can give to any game. If you can make me forget, for even an instant, that I’m stuck in a metal cylinder in the sky with a bunch of strangers that’s hurtling through the lower atmosphere at 600 mph… Yeah. You’ve made a good game.
There are certainly other mobile titles out there that are well worth your time. Monument Valley, Bastion and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery come immediately to mind. Kingdom Rush can comfortably stand alongside those games. It’s fun, challenging, funny, well made, dynamic and very, very pretty. It’s basically got everything you would want of a quality mobile title, or out of a good console or PC title for that matter. If you’re a gamer, you’re going to want to pick this up. Hell, if you have an iPhone or a Droid, you’re going to want to pick this up on general principle. It’s the rare game that falls into the category of “must-have” apps.
Kingdom Rush, Kingdom Rush: Frontiers and Kingdom Rush: Origins are available on iOS and Android.