In the current economic climate, sometimes you have to take a new approach to your problems. In that spirit, the latest offering from Nitrome is almost the opposite of a standard tower defense game. Instead of building structures along a path to repel a gang of marauders, you play as the characters on the path trying to destroy the fixed objects shooting at you. Your mission? To protect your shareholders. Welcome to a long long time ago, when economic recessions went medieval.
As the head of Castle Corp, you're clearly aware of the state of the global economy. In fact, it seems like all of your business making flags and capes has gone to Happy Family Shields and Accessories Incorporated over on yonder hill... So what does a failing business do to get itself back on its feet? (I should warn you that if you say "federal bailout", I will have no choice but to smite thee with my mace.)
Of course, you fight back. To do this, open the "Inventory" tab at the bottom of the screen to see the crew of knights you can employ. A knight can be placed at any of the starting pads on the map, and will start walking along the path until he reaches the end. If a knight meets an enemy, they will engage in a melee-style battle. However, a brawl takes a long time and can drain your knights' energy, so it may be helpful to take advantage of his rocket boosters. (Stay with me, it gets even better.) Aim your walking knight's trajectory with your cursor, and click to fire him through the air. He'll tackle airborne nemeses, collect coins for spending, and do other things that authentic knights did back in the day with their rocket packs. It's like reliving the Middle Ages!
Your goal is to knock away all enemy soldiers and weapons with your knights. As you plunder your way through HFSA Inc.'s headquarters, your enemies' supply of warriors and weapons become greater and stronger, with automated crossbows, fire-blowing mysical eyeballs, and cannons that shoot pigs. Some will even take more than one hit to destroy, but that's where your loot comes in. Between levels, you can purchase power-ups that let you boost your strength for battle, cast devastating spells, and carry chickens that lay eggs on your enemies. Seriously, it's by miracle alone that I haven't made a Monty Python reference yet.
Analysis: While Nitrome isn't known for taking stabs at current events, they do so here with great aplomb, balancing overused phrases from the cubicle world with an almost absurdist sense of humor, and taking it all back to the Middle Ages. You'll know when you get to take your first chicken-aided flight that this game was meant to be a ridiculous parody, and it's done quite well.
Those who have learned to equate "Nitromehard" with "Nintendohard" might be in for a bit of a surprise here, since the game helps the player along with a lot of handicaps, especially when it comes to power-ups. Did you buy a bunch of power-ups you realized you didn't need? You can sell them back for full price. Did you pick up a power-up you don't want? Sell it, and get something else for your money. Did you blow a whole ton of money and power-ups on a level, only to later lose that level? No worries, you get everything right back for your next go. You might almost think this game is being just a bit too forgiving.
There are a couple of known bugs still floating around (but being worked out), but none of them really hinder the gameplay much. If anything, they actually work on your side. For example, there have been instances where losing a level restarts you with an extra power-up or two in your stash. Oh, and remember playing peek-a-boo as a baby? Here's a hint: If you can't see a mounted weapon like a trebuchet or pig-shooter, it can't see you, so you can walk right by it without taking damage.
At the end of the day, Castle Corp boils down to a fun little anti-TD game with a great sense of topical humor. Maybe what every businessman needs nowadays is to throw on some armor and go medieval.
Cheers to Julian, Mark, Funlerz, Emil, Maqrkk, Saladgoat, Ben, and Aethelind.cullen for sending this one in! =)