Warning: Product contains no wizards.
This is another one of those “Zach gets assigned a random DSiWare game” reviews where you just know that, 90 percent of the time, it’s going to be a tower defense game. You can imagine my surprise when Wizard Defense, from the good people at Teyon, turned out to be exactly that—but with a TWIST.
I should first mention that the title is misleading. I don’t know where YOU grew up, but, here on Middle-Earth, wizards are DUDES and witches are CHICKS. They are not necessarily evil and their skill sets may overlap, but that basic delineation remains in force. It’s kind of like calling the flying reptiles in “Reign of Fire” dragons. They’re wyverns—it’s pretty clear. Wyverns have two pairs of limbs; dragons have three. Wizards are men; witches are women. Get it right, Teyon.
“Witch Defenders” is played by holding the DSi book-style. On one screen, witches of various colors line up in rows and columns. On the other screen, enemy creatures move toward your magically skilled armada. If some random creature reaches your group, a column of spikes appears and pushes your army back. If they get pushed back all the way, it’s “Game Over.” So how do you defeat the legions of darkness? By playing Panel de Pon horizontally.
You select and drag different witches around with the stylus. Your goal is to line up groups of at least three like-colored witches who will then blast the oncoming enemies. This attack varies in magnitude based on how many witches are in the match group. You can match witches vertically or horizontally for different kinds of attacks, and new witches shuffle in to replace the ones who “clear,” thus keeping the Panel de Pon vibe going. Chains are, of course, encouraged.
This is all good in theory, but “Witch Defense” falls apart once you start dealing with its tower defense nature. You’re not going for a high score or playing with a time limit. You’re not battling an AI opponent by dumping junk witches on his field. You’re focusing on blasting enemies who appear on certain squares of the opposing grid. These enemies always move forward, so it’s difficult to focus on finding smart combos. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed, even in the early levels of the game. You can only defeat some enemies with either vertical or horizontal attacks, but not both, adding to your potential misery. All enemies have palette swap clones that have more HP or move faster.
It’s all just a little too frantic. You never settle into a comfortable Panel de Pon “zone,” because you’re not supposed to focus on the puzzles. You’re too busy keeping your eyes on the enemy grid and spending time swapping witches around to react to each enemy in time. It’s impossible to actually set up chains, because, by the time you build a good one, a bunch of enemies have reduced your grid. Chains generally happen randomly as a result, which takes the fun out of using them.
My hypothesis that the only types of games released on DSiWare anymore are tower defense games seems to be holding up. While Wizard Defense does try something new, it can’t shake the incompatibility of its two gameplay types, so, like every other tower defense game I’ve had the “pleasure” of reviewing on DSiWare, I’d avoid this one.