In recent years, the tower defense genre has grown into a rather popular size. There are a ton of them out there ranging from simple gameplay placement to complex actions with RPG elements. The DSiWare store has a good amount of tower defense games available all of which are rather good. Now, Abylight comes along and brings another simple tower defense game to the DSiWare store in the form of Dairojo! Samurai Defense.
The game takes place in Edo Japan where Samurais and Shoguns ruled the lands. You control an empire that is under heavy attack by opposing forces, and it’s up to you to dispatch troops and defend your tower. You do this by placing units on designated spots on the board.
You have a total of five units: Spearmen, Archers, Gunmen, Cannons, and Generals. Each attack in a certain style and you have the ability to upgrade your units up to four times. Spearmen, Generals, and Cannons attack land enemies, while Gunmen and Archers can handle the air units. You can also remove an already positioned unit as a sort of buyback and use that gold to place a new unit in another area.
The game has a very cartoony style and some of the units are comical at times. As in, air units sometimes consist of ninjas flying on kites or riding hovering throwing stars. The presentation is somewhat average to be honest, and the menus are rather generic, but that’s not the biggest problem with the menus. The biggest problem is the fact that they are confusing. Navigating this is no problem, but understanding what you are doing is where the game takes a nose dive. There are three modes in all: score attack, normal, and random modes. Besides a small alteration on the games, I can’t for the life of me figure out the differences in the three modes. They all play the same, and almost never end.
One of the biggest problems with the game is the fact that there is no tutorial-at all. You choose a mode you want to play and 1,2,3..GO! You now have to defend against 99 waves of enemies with no instructions and no eased pacing. They put you right into the thick of it. You basically have to learn how to play on your own. Also, for a portable game, this isn’t really portable. Those 99 waves are in every mode and can take you up to 30 minutes to finish. Choosing a stage to play is confusing as well. Most games you play usually start out with the first stage you can choose being the easiest one, right? Well, not this one. The stages are ranked by a number of stars. I still don’t know if the stars mean the difficulty level of the stage or how well you can do on the stage or what, and the first stage has around 10 stars while the 3rd stage has around 7. It’s just confusing.
The game does offer two player multiplayer using two DSi’s and requiring only 1 copy of the game. It says versus mode, but it’s basically you and your friend playing the exact same level with the exact same waves of enemies. It’s kind of limited, but still it is there for the ones who want it.
The gameplay is simple enough to understand and it works rather well for what it does. I just wish there was some sort of tutorial level or maybe an introduction story mode that eased you into the gameplay rather than pushing you headfirst into the fray. Dairojo Samurai Defenders is not a bad game; in fact, I’d go as far as to say this is a very good tower defense game. It’s just that the pacing of the difficulty and the confusing menu system bog the game down. If you’re a fan of tower defense and you understand them fairly well, I’d say pick it up. If you’re a beginner to the genre I’d say stay far away. There are other games on the DSiWare store that can teach you how to play the game better than this one. Despite all its problems, the game is still a good tower defense distraction for people willing to give it a chance and become patient with the gameplay.
Review copy provided by publisher.