Review: Desktop Tower Defense

DesktopTowerDefenseDS.jpg We seem to be on a bit of a Tower Defense kick lately here at VGBlogger … between my review of Defense Grid: The Awakening, Matt’s review of Savage Moon, our joint review of Plants vs. Zombies, and the frequent mention of PixelJunk Monsters for PSN and Lock’s Quest for the DS, it seems like a week doesn’t go by without us talking about a Tower Defense game. Well, another week, another tower defense game review. This time it is Desktop Tower Defense for the DS.

While Tower Defense games go back nearly two decades to the PC strategy game Rampart in 1990 and became a standard for user-created modules for strategy games for a number of years, they seemed to have died off when suddenly the craze of web browser games based on Adobe Flash started. Two games really redefined the genre and stand as forefathers to everything coming out now: Flash Element Tower Defense and Desktop Tower Defense.

Sometimes you play a game and think “I could sum up this experience in about two sentences”. That is how I feel with this game: Desktop Tower Defense is a direct port of the Flash game that has been around for a few years, and offers nothing that hasn’t been done better in every single one of the games I mentioned above. Buy it ONLY if you are a big fan of the Flash game and are looking for a way to play it on the go.

That said, it is only fair that I provide a bit more information to help you out, because if you have made it this far…

In terms of graphics and audio, Flash apps are perfect for porting to the DS – the DS can handle the relatively simple graphics processing and web-optimized audio without a problem. And Desktop Tower Defense is not challenging even for a flash app. You have simple towers to build, simple monsters called ‘creeps’, and simple areas you’re defending, all of which align on a grid. You buy towers and place them on the grid, and when playing the towers automatically shoot at the creeps until either they get by and destroy your base or you destroy them all.

The bottom screen is where all the action happens – you buy towers from a palette on the right side, place them on the grid, upgrade or sell them by highlighting them on the active field and pressing a button. The upper screen shows the status information for whatever tower or creep you have highlighted.

The only innovation the DS version brings is the ability to edit the towers and creeps. You are given a 16 x 16 grid and simple pixel-based drawing tools, and can reconfigure them any way you like. There are no limitations or need to make sense, as the basis of the offensive or defensive capabilities has nothing to do with shape. I’m sure that there will be creations like some of the controversial ones made when Spore was released … well, they would be if people actually bought this game.

The problem with Desktop Tower Defense is that it is really a pretty basic game, and there are so many newer games that encompass tower defense as part of their gameplay but do much more in addition. It is a solid game and plenty of fun, but adds absolutely nothing to the experience of playing the flash game. I am giving it a ‘Try It’ recommendation since it is easy to head to the web site and check out the Flash version. If you can’t get enough, perhaps this DS port is a worthwhile purchase for you.


+ Solid tower defense game
+ Freedom to customize towers and creeps
+ Budget price

– Basic tower defense feels dated
– Adds nothing to the genre

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Humagade
Release Date: 5/11/09
Genre: Strategy/Tower Defense
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!