A word of warning: Portal Defenders is an extremely violent game, which has earned it a Rating-R(ed) from us, our most severe rating (see our ratings explanation page for more info). While we generally don't feature games that aren't "family-friendly," we felt the quality of this game merited a review. Please be advised.
When we review flash-based games here, we usually don't say much about the portal where it was found. Generally speaking, the games have very little to do with the portal, and since the games are often to be found on multiple portals, it serves little purpose in the overall enjoyment of the game. However, the site in question here deserves a mention because Portal Defenders would not exist were it not for the site and community of Newgrounds. While it may seem like just another beat-em-up, Portal Defenders is so much more, especially if you've been around the Flash portal scene for a while.
In a style reminiscent of Castle Crashers, or classic games like Double Dragon and Final Fight, Portal Defenders sees the player taking on one of two (initially) personas, each with different strengths and weaknesses. It just so happens that the characters are based on the real-life head-honchos of Newgrounds, Tom Fulp and Dan Paladin. It is your job to help Tom and Dan protect the portal from a variety of evil ne'er-do-wells, from the scratching Kitty Krew to actionscript junkies to animators. Each has their own styles of attack, and each has a boss character that you must defeat. Like Tom and Dan, all of the other characters in the game are based on actual members of the Newgrounds portal. You might recognize some names of popular Flash authors like jmtb02 and Tyler Glaiel.
The beatings commence as you take your character of choice and his favorite kitchen implement to task against the waves of baddies to come. Press [A] to unleash an attack with your spoon or fork against anyone in the way. Pressing multiple times will create attack combos. If you manage to get your opponent in the air, continued pummeling will create air-juggle combos that earn extra points, and keep the baddies from counter-attacking while they're in the air. Pressing [S] lets you jump away from attack, or lets you jump into the fray, hopefully missing your opponent's initial attack. Hit [D] to throw an explosive surprise at your enemies. This is an excellent way to take care of a group of lackeys or to knock a boss down a few life-points before you go at him with your tableware.
There are three mini-games to help, as the developers put it, "distract you from the unbearable repetitiveness of endlessly mashing the same button." The P-Bot Zamboni game has your character hoping into a robotic cleaning machine in order to mop up the gallons of blood that have fallen all over the arena floor in the previous match. This lets you start the next round with a shiny clean floor for the next onslaught. The next is the Treasure Chest Decoder. Try and guess the combination to the chest by jumping on the different buttons. Only the correct code will give you access to the goodies inside. Last, but not least, is Paint The Town Red. This is basically a big, bloody Etch-a-Sketch. Walk through some blood, and use your footprints to draw your gore-filled creation. You can even submit your pictures to possibly be featured on the game's website.
Of course, what would any current game be without achievements? There are twenty achievements available to unlock in Portal Defenders, including five super-secret achievements you won't know until you unlock them. The standard achievements range from hitting your first enemy to viewing every game-over ending (complete with spinning newspaper headline and "Batman" trumpets) to beating the game with all 6 characters.
Analysis: Portal Defenders is a game made by (disturbed) Flash game geeks, for Flash game geeks. There are enough in-jokes in this game to keep any fan happy (one of the gangs of baddies are known as the "akshunskriptors") and the production quality is top-notch to boot. The animation is well-done, with combo movements tweening seamlessly into one another. Your character even does a rather embarrassing little victory dance at the end of each round.
Gameplay is old-school button-mashing fun, with nothing to get in the way of the bloody enjoyment of pummeling your opponents to death. One of the more disturbing takes on the beat-em-up genre is the way you replenish hit-points, by eating the various internal organs that will from time-to-time pop out of your defeated, decapitated enemies. Did I mention that this game was disturbing?
Portal Defender is hard. Very hard. Hard like you may never actually make it through the game unless you were one of the developers, and even then it'll take a month of Sundays to make it happen. You have the extent of your life bar, and whatever guts you can ingest to boost your HP, to make it through the game. There's no extra life, no continues. When it's game over, it's Game Over. Frustrating? Yes. Does it keep you coming back for more? Strangely enough, yes it does. I've probably played the game 25 times while writing this review, and while I have yet to make it past the third boss character (damn you, Mindchamber!) I've had a blast playing each time. And, of course, the achievements are icing on the bloody, gory cake.
We can give a game no better endorsement than go play it now! If you are not averse to ridiculous amounts of gratuitous violence, then you can do worse than giving Portal Defenders a go. Pick up your favorite cooking utensil and go beat some baddies!