Having noticed that our readers include a great many fans of tower defense games, the maker of Toytown Tower Defense asked for feedback on why his game might not have been well received. Or let’s put that in less polite terms: it is rated just below 3.5 on Kongregate, when some real garbage clears 4. Let’s get some reviews in the comments, something more substantial and useful than the Twitter-like comments on Kongregate. Try it before my ensuing comments bias your impressions.
My thoughts? I found it annoying.
The music was the worst of it, although the sound effects did not help. It would have been nice to be able to turn off the music but keep the sounds, because the sounds have some useful feedback. The music is not bad for the first thirty seconds or so, but then it is like standing next to the calliope at the circus for hours on end. Upbeat is nice, and in keeping with the tone of the game, but quickly annoying. The other sound effects might not be bad except that enemy hit points ramp up pretty quickly, relative to tower damage. That is a lot of shot sound effects, none of which is individually appealing.
I like the opening splash screen. The rest of the graphics seem like a weaker version of what Mushroom Revolution would go on to do well. There is a narrow band of cute that works well, although that might vary by personal preference, and I think the larger size and higher pixel counts in Mushroom Revolution really help. The color combinations there are more appealing than the auras in Toytown, to my preferences. The more that everything looks pixelated, and one pixel thick, the worse.
Having a hero is an interesting throwback. Since Warcraft III was the big thing for tower defense, it used heroes. Here, the hero is relatively strong, which creates an unfortunate incentive to focus on it, to the detriment of it being a tower defense game. You could probably get quite a ways using just the hero. If I get a hero, I would like to be able to level it up and such, rather than waiting for it to become mostly irrelevant except as an aura/debuffer.
The power plants were not fun. I don’t know what they were meant to add. It’s like worrying about your economy, only it is a momentary irritant that takes up a bit of map space.
I was not fond of the large map size relative to the flash window. That does not always work well even in games that let you go to fullscreen, zoom, and pan: in a flash game, you do not want the tower defense field of play to be that much larger than the visible window. The mini-map in the corner works nicely.
The presents were another problem, especially given the large window. They go away quickly, so you need to be looking at everything all the time, which becomes a problem once you do not have everything dying at the same spot. It is like taunting the players with power-ups then blowing them up before they can get them.
I cannot comment on the balance. I have tried it several times and always quite before leaking any monsters.
The info screen is good. I like the graph of tower comparisons. It is non-obvious that it is there. Also, do the instructions explain anywhere how to click away to be able to build after you have selected your hero? It is not hard to figure out, but one more irritant.
The core gameplay is familiar to the point of being derivative, while almost every detail is annoying. That is really harsh, and I wish that I had more positive things to say, but the game is up against some stiff competition in the flash tower defense arena, and this is never going to be a competitor. It lacks even quirky neatness. Also, there is only the one map, and if you have only one thing, you need to do it really well.
An easy way to increase the number of plays and the ranking is to do whatever is necessary with the Kongregate API to get badges. It will not make the game any different, but far more people will play it, and everything I have seen suggests that people rate anything higher if there are achievements enabled, and they seem to enjoy it more. Primitive mammalian brains, pushing levers for pellets, and all that.
When seeking comments, the developer said he was thinking of going in a more DotA direction. That could be interesting, even if as a single-player game. It would put the focus on the hero more, presumably with some support units/towers. I am not really sure how that would work, without taking it multiplayer, but it might. Another multiplayer option that would make things more interesting is just having two sides against each other: build your towers, choose what type of wave to send next, etc., with either separate monster/tower players or both players on both offense and defense at once. I cannot recall ever having seen that fully executed.
Sorry to be a grumpus, but that was my impression of the game. I can be somewhat finicky about my tower defense.
Full disclosure: if you use one of those links and sign up at Kongregate, I get some kind of points that do nothing but put a number by my name. But, you know.