Defend Your Honor
Once upon a time, there were two Elven boys who didn't have fairies. One of them went on to have great adventures and save the world in a green hat. You've probably heard about it. The other one? Well, he didn't ever make it farther than the local tavern. Defend Your Honor is the newest Tower Defense game from designer Antony Lavelle of Armor Games. Your mission is to help the underachieving elf make a name for himself and finally move out of his parents' house. Namely by retrieving a golden walrus from the Walrus King's dungeon. Trust me, it makes more sense in context. Sort of. Kinda.
That missing golden walrus isn't going to find itself, so it's time to get started! Movement is done with the mouse. Just click on a door, and our unlikely hero will go through it. There are four doors initially available, with two areas in each that are immediately playable. Luckily, they've been put in order by difficulty, so you'll always know where to go. Upon entering the first area, anybody who's played a tower defense game will know immediately what's going to happen. Towers (in this case, characters) can be placed with the mouse, and once you're prepared, you can start the waves of monsters that must be defeated. Killing a monster will generate a certain amount of gold, which can be used for upgrades by clicking on your characters between waves. Any gold left at the end of a wave will generate interest, and whatever you have left after the level can be used to purchase more characters at the store. Although there is only one type initially available, as you progress, you will make new and interesting friends who will join your ranks, each with their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. And grave digging abilities.
Unlike most other games in the genre, Defend Your Honor doesn't expect you to defend against wave after wave of monsters. The levels are short, never lasting more than ten fast waves or so. You also start each level with all of the towers that you're going to have, throwing in a bit of forethought that's seldom seen in this genre. Another feature that doesn't often appear in these games is humor, but with Defend Your Honor, you'll be giggling at every cutscene. The humor is weird and just a little off-color, and serves to keep the mood lighthearted as you're battling your way through to fame and fortune. Or... whatever one gets for retrieving the golden walrus. Probably a sad shake of the head.
Analysis: The great thing about Defend Your Honor is that it's different enough to appeal to those who usually shun the genre, without alienating the hardcore tower-defenders out there. Knowing exactly how many "towers" of each type you're going to have at the beginning of the level makes it more about placement and strategic upgrading than the average tower defense game, and using your cash between levels keeps you from using brute force to muscle your way through each level. The length of the levels works nicely, as they're short enough to keep the average player from getting bored before the end, and the story progresses as you unlock more levels, so there's always something new to look forward to. The various enemies with different strengths and weaknesses that need to be handled, give the title just the right dose of strategy during battles.
Visually, while there's nothing particularly breathtaking, the cartoony graphics fit well with the light-hearted tone of the game. The sound effects are fitting too, cute without being obnoxious. The only complaint I have about Defend Your Honor is with the treasures that serve as achievements. There are relatively few of them, and most of them will be acquired simply by playing through the game. And since you don't get any special reward for collecting all of them, the whole thing feels like it was shoehorned in just to please the crowd.
But it's easy enough to just ignore the incomplete achievement system and get lost in the fun of the game. It's simple enough that a casual gamer won't have a hard time getting through, but there's an extreme mode available to the more seasoned veteran of tower defense. Whether you're in for a challenge or if you just want to find the walrus king's missing treasure, Defend Your Honor is a cute, quirky example of how to make tower defense accessibly to everybody and make sense to nobody. Onward!