Fantasy Defense: Pneumonia Edition
While writing this article a couple weeks ago, I was under the impression that touchscreen controls were just terrible. A poor man’s mouse and keyboard. But there is one genre I’ve found they’re pretty good for, and that is tower defense. Unlike real-time strategy, you generally aren’t moving units around manually, so ultra-precise controls aren’t necessary. Therefore, I started playing a lot of free games of this genre on my Android tablet.
At first glance, Fantasy Defense appears to closely resemble Fantasica, which I excoriated last week. Both are free-to-play tower defense games with a fantasy theme that ask for real money to get the best stuff, and they both advertise themselves using anime chicks with racks the size of third world nations. But immediately upon playing I was disgusted by the latter yet at least slightly impressed with the former.
Maybe it’s the pneumonia rattling my brain, but Fantasy Defense is a hell of a lot more fun to play than Fantasica. For starters, there is actual skill involved in the placement and upgrading of your units. Scatter your troops willy-nilly and you’re failing the level even if you bought the best pay-to-win gear. You’d think that would be the bare minimum for a tower defense game, but you’d be surprised what passes these days. There’s not a gigantic amount of depth present, and Fantasy Defense isn’t a tenth as good as the best tower defense game I’ve ever played, but Stockholm Syndrome is making it look pretty decent right now. My brain was challenged a very little bit, I felt some progression. It’s not awful.
In most circumstances, a game holding out its hand so I can fork over real cash for the strongest items is a practice I would find as insulting and degrading as the game’s art. But after playing that turd Fantasica, this game honestly seems tolerable in comparison. Sure, you can buy equipment stronger than what you could earn with in-game points, but they only give minor boosts to your hero units. It’s not “pay to get the items or collectibles with the most numbers on them,” it’s “pay to get a slight improvement to a couple units.” Still not ideal, but compared to the stark money-grubbing of that other game? This is downright pleasant.
I quit playing when I got to the point where I was probably going to have to do some heavy grinding or shell out a few real bucks. I got a few hours’ slight entertainment out of it, and for a free game that is a… not a success really, but there’s no seething resentment for Fantasy Defense from my point of view, either. It simply is. Now please excuse me; I have actual good games to play and diseases recover from. Thank you for your patience.