iPad Game Review: Jelly Defense (Universal)
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Jelly Defense is a strikingly beautiful and fun tower defense game from Infinite Dreams. What sets it apart from other tower defense games are the eye-popping visuals and the need to continually scrap/redeploy towers as the waves progress in each level. 20 campaign missions, 10 tower types and 8 power-ups means you will be getting a LOT of content for your dollar. The game is available for iOS as a universal app, Android and Mac OS.
In Jelly Defense your goal is to prevent adorable red and blue gelatinous monsters from stealing your crystals. I know what you're thinking; this has been done to death by a legion of tower defense games that have come before. Jelly Defense truly stands out, however, for a variety of reasons. First of all, red towers can only target red creatures and the same is true for blue towers/creatures. This presents a challenge in that towers cannot be placed just anywhere, and as with other tower defense games, certain locations are always better than others. Second, most maps have multiple paths to your precious crystals. Lastly, resources are collected in the form of coins that drop from the invaders. These coins must be collected by tapping on them, and there just aren?t enough to build everything you need in every location you need them. This is compounded by the fact that attackers change type and color between waves.
Consequently, you will find yourself scrambling to scrap formerly formidable towers that are now useless in an effort to build a proper defense for the new threat. There are 10 tower types with all the regulars you?ve come to expect in a TD game ranging from cheap single-shot units to powerful WMDs and everything in-between. All of them are upgradable of course, which is pretty standard. What is not standard, however, is the fact that towers will upgrade themselves if you can wait for them to log the required number of kills. You can even see how close they are to reaching the next threshold by looking at the border around the upgrade icon, which slowly fills up as they gain experience. There is no discount for upgrading units that are close to the next level so think carefully before you drop money on an experienced tower. Fortunately, these towers are introduced slowly through a clever feature called the Inventor Tree, which is located directly on the game maps. New towers will cost you coins, however, so plan accordingly. Jelly Defense incorporates Game Center Achievements for all you achievement hounds, and it even tells you your worldwide rank right on the main menu.
There are 20 campaign missions, some of which are REALLY long. Normally, this wouldn?t be a big deal, however, your progress within a level is not saved when you return to the main menu, nor is it saved when you exit the app. I hope this is addressed with future updates as it is the only blotch on an otherwise stellar game.
The graphics of Jelly Defense are absolutely gorgeous. The maps are drawn in high resolution grayscale and have a whimsical, rounded 3-D look to them that reminds me of a Tim Burton movie. In contrast, the invading 3-D jelly monsters are in vivid color, as are the towers. This contrast makes the silky smooth animation really pop while allowing you to easily keep track of all relevant game objects without distraction. Deploying towers results in them squirming and popping into existence, and even the invading forces are charming. This is such a unique look, and it works so well that it makes me wonder why it hasn?t been done before. I have described a number of games in the past as having personality, polish, and high production values. I wish I could take them back now and use them here exclusively because there are very few games that look quite as nice as this one.
The sound effects in Jelly Defense are immensely enjoyable. The invaders giggle maniacally as they bounce/roll/ooze down their paths and the towers emit subtle yet appropriately gelatinous sounds as they defend. Even spinning the globe on the campaign screen results in a very tiny ?whee!? sound, presumably coming from the planet?s inhabitants enjoying the ride. The music is original and also quite enjoyable, although you may find yourself turning it off if you replay a single map too many times.
Jelly Defense is my new favorite tower defense game, and not just because it?s new. The combination of unique gameplay mechanics, incredible graphics, and enjoyable sounds come together to create a fresh iOS gaming experience like no other. Couple that with the incredibly low introductory price of $1, the fact that no further in-app purchases are required to experience the full game, and the developer?s decision to build this as a universal app; and you have a game that I can unequivocally recommend to casual and hardcore gamers, alike.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - A gorgeous tower defense game with a refreshing and unique look.
Sound: - 5 - Great sound effects and an original soundtrack means you will want headphones for this one.
Controls: - 5 - A super accurate and intuitive touch interface. The tutorial is so short because you just don?t need more!
Gameplay: - 5 - A refreshing take on tower defense. You will need to scrap and repeatedly redeploy to win each level.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Initially, more towers are better than upgraded towers. You will need to scrap and rebuild between waves in order to be successful. Don?t forget to build a tower behind the crystal stash so you can blast the thief on his way out with your goods
Developer: Infinite Dreams
Release Date: September 29, 2011
Price: $0.99 Intro price; $2.99 regular price
Buy App: Jelly Defense
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