Game of the Week: Kingdom Rush

It’s that time again folks. We’ve gone around the horn this week and we’ve arrived, once again, at Game of the Week time! Now personally, I wanted to do a review this week on a modern console game, Warped, but unfortunately they don’t have a demo version to check out, so instead, I’m going to provide you all with a lovely game that you can play from your browser. This week we talk Kingdom Rush by Ironhide Games Studio.

Now the reason that I included this game this week is because, for one, it’s easily accessible and secondly, I wanted to show how games can be fun via accessible control schemes. There are so many games out there that use 16+ button combinations and tactics and you have to push R1+X+L1+Δ to do one combo, and I just want to show what’s capable with just a simple mouse click. Later today I’ll cover a game that I find great, but has a complex control setting – and you’ll see where the complexity rises.

Now Kingdom Rush, is a tower defense game. In the game you are required to arm your troops, set up your turrets, and keep hoards of goblins, orcs, mages, etc. away from your base. Now this concept has been done over and over again, but what made the game for me was the art style and the accessible controls. The art style is child-like in nature. Bright vibrant colors, simplistic controls, and tension-building gameplay make this game a must witness. The gameplay was vastly accessible, as every motion I took required merely a mouse click. The further levels, however, do get a tad harder when boss battles occur due to having to click multiple times on certain towers to save them.

There are 12 levels, each with 2 difficulty settings [ Easy and Normal ] and Three Challenges: Star Completion, Heroic Challenge, and Iron Challenge. There are also more levels upon completion, but they are premium content only. The difficulty of these tasks increases exponentially depending upon which you choose. I know I’ve had a difficult time grasping how to position my troops on certain Heroic and Iron Challenges where they give you specific parameters and restrictions per level. This increases the replay and play value of the game though.

You’re now not just going through the motions of 12 levels, you’re having to go back and challenge yourself to see if you can beat X number of waves with only X available to you. This is an intriguing method to keep the game entertaining, and I know some of you may say, “It’s just a tower defense game, I’ve played loads of those before, why is this one any different?” – well, because it gives you variety, challenge, and keeps a player on their toes. Constantly introducing new enemies and bosses throughout the levels and keeping the hoards vast enough to provide for fast-paced tension throughout a play through.

I strongly suggest folks take a look at this game and see the capabilities of gameplay mechanics that can occur when you cut down game inputs to single button presses. I’m an advocate for games like this, and I’m hoping that eventually console markets will see a necessity to incorporate this, sort of, “mobile game” mentality into their gameplay. Mobile games may seem like they go against everything that us console fans crave. We want controllers and we want intense action and we want stimulus coming at us from every direction, but the truth of the matter is this game shows that those things are possible even with simplistic controls. I’m truly excited for the Wii U, because I feel like this is going to be an opportunity where mobile single-click input technology may actually make a console accessible via the touchscreen controller.

Some of you Xbox fans may be saying:

“Well, what about Kinect? Doesn’t it provide accessibility in some ways?”

True, it does, but it seems the idea of accessibility is a minor concern on the part of motion-control accessibility. Motion-impaired gamers don’t have access to using Wii remotes, Move controllers, etc. and just because you make a game console ‘hands free’ doesn’t mean that movement of some kind is required by a sensor to pick up actions. If a person is immobile and can only move a small portion of their body, having full body motion control becomes pointless.

Now Xbox is making strides in this market, with their experimentation with voice control schemes via Mass Effect 3, but the only use of it I’ve seen is in demos done at conventions. I’m not sure how well it works, or for what functions, but you still have to use a controller for most functions. This is discouraging, but it’s a step in the right direction that may see improvement later – I’ll talk in-depth about this on a later post.

I personally believe that this technology could go a great way towards making games accessible within the home environment, so motion-impaired gamers don’t have to settle on the sidelines of gaming, but can immerse themselves in the action by vocally bringing up their commands, menus, etc. Keep this in mind fellow developers as we go forth into the next-generation of gaming. Now back to the game!

All this aside though, Kingdom Rush is a great game, and I know many have played it. If you haven’t though, I urge you to see what one-button input technology can create. Kingdom Rush is a lush, immersive strategy game that will keep you thinking and working on your strategies for quite some time. It is available on IPhones and IPads in the App Store for $ 2.99 [ Currently there is no Android Market version, though I’m hoping for one! ] and this version includes upgrades not found in the free version which I’ll post a link to here:

Kingdom Rush by Ironhide Games:

http://www.kongregate.com/games/Ironhidegames/kingdom-rush

I found that in some of the levels, color blind gamers may have some trouble as some enemies colors [ like white wolves, etc.] may blend in on the snowy mountain levels, and on the upgrades screen the coloration on the upgrades may be a bit harsh, but overall it’s a wonderful game and I urge people to check it out. I’ll be back soon with my second Game of the Week this week, and it’ll help me explain the importance of why simple control schemes can make better and more accessible games.

Stay tuned and happy orc-hunting!

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