The king has lost his precious Golden Bottle, and you have just the team of mercenaries to retrieve it for him! Start your quest at the inn with Rune Raiders, an easy to pick up but hard to put down turn-based strategy game by Retro64. What begins as a simple quest for a bottle turns into a fight for the kingdom. You have what it takes to defeat the Dark Master, right?
You start with three heroes for hire and just enough money to recruit them all. Once you've selected your team you'll head to the playing field, an area packed with rows of tiles. Use the arrow buttons on the bottom of the screen to move the entire group in that direction. You can also order them to stand in place, or drag and drop each character to change their formation. Step forward and you'll run into a wide variety of enemies, each with unique abilities that will slow you down and, well, try to kill you. Solution: kill them first!
Luckily each of your characters, none of whom would be out of place in a Saturday morning cartoon series, has unique abilities as well. There are heavy armor creatures, who like to be up front to take the damage. There are long distance attackers, who deal death from afar. Each one has a different attack range and damage. Many can be upgraded with special abilities such as knocking an attacker back, or crushing walls that hinder your progress. Upgrades are essential as they also provide longer attack range, better armor, and more attack power. The key is to get the right mix of abilites that will allow you to easily dispatch the enemies in your way.
After each move, if an enemy is in range, your heroes will attack. This is followed by an enemy attack. Click an enemy before moving close to check its attack range. Note also that every time you move forward, your team regains a bit of health, even if you are playing without a healer. Despite this, occasionally a hero will fall in battle. If you think you can live without her or him, carry on. If, however they are essential to you finishing the level, you can use your accumulated cash to ressurect the fallen. Each enemy you kill drops a sack of money. Make sure you click on them all so you have enough gold to fund your next expedition!
Rune Raiders is also available as an iOS download. The iOS version features two additional heroes and five more levels, but otherwise plays the same. Both include survival mode which doesn't involve gold. Just select your team and fight until everyone is dead. The humor in the game will have you smiling all the way through, and each hero has a distinct personality which adds to the overall charm of the game. The soundtrack, while well made, gets repetitive after awhile, as do the sound effects. If they start to bother you, you can turn one or both off in the options menu. It would be nice to have some input into which monsters you attack when multiple ones are in range, but the game usually does a good job of judging what should be hit. With three difficulty levels, Rune Raiders is a well made game, with solid strategy elements, which is sure to please.