The Game: Crystal Defenders
The Device: My slowly dying Droid X
The Price: $7.99 on iOS, but currently on sale for $0.99 on Google Play.
The Basics: Square took Tower Defense and sprinkled it with Final Fantasy Characters. Various monsters from the series are trying to steal crystals from you and it’s your job to stop them with all the troops you can afford.
You choose characters from a variety of familiar jobs for Final Fantasy fans, everything from Fighters to Black Mages to Dragoons, and place them along the enemy’s predetermined path. You can see their attack range represented as a circle around them, and when enemies get near they’ll attack with whatever the character’s preferred method of killing is. The monsters don’t fight back, thankfully, which might make you feel bad about pummeling and setting them on fire, but they just can’t stop that crystal persuasion.
As usual, eliminating enemies gives you money (gil, in this case) that lets you either buy new troops or upgrade old ones to make them stronger and have a longer range.
The Review: Squaresoft released this game at the start of the tower defense craze, and it shows. Simple and with no frills- not even full-screen support for tablets!- it doesn’t offer much even for Final Fantasy fans.
Sure, the graphics and sound effects are dead on, showcasing the bright and colorful characters quite well even on the small screen, but the experience drags. Like the more plodding tower defense games it’s all about trial and error, seeing where the monsters come and deciding on unit placement. Your first game relies on luck- it’s only with endless repetition that you’ll get farther in the levels. Each wave of enemies features hordes of a single enemy and the waves are the same every time you play.
There are two different game modes with a handful of levels each. The first modes starts you off with the basics and the second introduces power crystals, which are support units for nearby defenders. (There’s a more challenging third game mode that’s included on the myriad of other platforms that this is available on, but it’s annoyingly absent for the Android version.)
The touch screen controls, obviously implemented after the game was already developed, make things hard to control. Rather than simply tapping on a unit (who get increasingly hidden as you populate the screen with troops) you have to hold your finger down on the screen and move a cursor around until you find it. Ostensibly it’s to make sure you don’t hide where you’re tapping with your finger and give you more control over selection but it takes a while to get used to, by which time you’ll wish you hadn’t.
Not Square’s finest moment. While we’re at it, can we get someone to tell Square that they have to price their games more competitively? $16 to play Final Fantasy 3 (a grinding-heavy, six year-old remake of a 22 year-old game) on your phone with touch screen controls, is absurd.
The Final Grade: C-