If It Ain’t Broke, Please, Don’t Fix It
Normally, a tower defense game is about building towers and fighting off waves of seemingly endless enemies. Pocket Kingdom TD by Eyougames tries to put a spin on the classic tower defense recipe by mixing in RPG elements. However, the result is a quickly repetitive game that highlights the worst aspects of both genres.
A Lot Going On, But Little Happening
Instead of towers, Pocket Kingdom TD uses collectible heroes. Collect heroes and team them up in a party, kind of like most RPGs. Heroes vary in types and abilities from common to very rare and long-range attackers to defensive walls. The challenge of the game is figuring out the right type of hero for the right situation. Gameplay can be entertaining, but it’s lacking the charm of most tower defense games. You are limited to –at most– eight characters in your party, meaning you can only deploy eight towers at a time (and that’s only after you grind your way up to level 30). What’s worse is the game doesn’t develop much as you progress. The maps, environments and enemies hardly change as the game goes on. There are unlockable difficulties, but they don’t add much either.
Even the online PVP is largely underwhelming. You pick a team and they auto-battle an opposing team until someone’s health bar reaches zero. I played it once and never again.
Between stages, players can upgrade their heroes, equip and enhance items, or recruit new heroes. The upgrading process becomes tedious very quickly, especially as your party size increases. It’s no big deal when there are only two or three heroes, but leveling-up, increasing character ranks, boosting stats, upgrading equipment and purifying equipment for eight characters after every game is too much. It feels like everything could’ve been streamlined better. Or at least take some of the grind out of the player’s hands. There’s also a harem feature, which helps upgrade female characters. It’s pretty cringey.
Every type of upgrade and unlockable requires a different type of in-game currency. This is where the freemium aspect of the game comes into play. Everything can be collected in chests and daily raids. So, you don’t have to spend actual cash, but it’s pretty clear the different currencies are there to take your money.
Lost in Translation
Pocket Kingdom TD struggles with something I’ve never actually seen in a game firsthand: translation. This original version is a Japanese game, but it doesn’t seem like Eyougames put much effort into the English translation. From the dialogue to in-game instructions, there are mistakes everywhere. Any information Pocket Kingdom TD tries to convey is hard to follow because you have to decipher what you’re reading. There were features in the game, like the treasure room, I had to completely skip over because I could not understand the game’s instructions.
The plot of the game is almost impossible to follow. The story starts when your main character gets thrown into the mysterious, nameless world of Pocket Kingdom TD to find out you’re an emperor. From there, you create a posse and make your way across the land clearing waves of enemies. This is the most coherent version of the story I could put together. Encounters with other characters pop-up throughout the game, but I could barely understand anything. There’s also some mysterious villain following you and something about a zombie king too, but Pocket Kingdom TD barely has any exposition. From the start of the game, I kept thinking to myself, “Am I missing something?” By the end I realized, “Nope, that’s just the game.”
It’s Not All Bad
Between the failed attempts at an ambitious idea and the broken English, there is actually an enjoyable game. Pocket Kingdom TD is very well animated. The cartoonish, 3D graphics are the clear strength of the title. The feudal setting, along with the characters’ elaborate costumes and oversized weapons, gives Pocket Kingdom TD a sort of Dynasty Warriors feel to it, which I appreciate aesthetically. Combat can feel satisfying, especially when you unleash a hero’s special attack on a large group of enemies, dealing massive damage. Boss battles add frantic chaos to later stages, which help break up some of the monotony of gameplay.
Pocket Kingdom TD tries to blend two classic genres to make something new and exciting, but instead created a repetitive tower defense game with tedious RPG elements. There are some good ideas in the game, they’re just hidden behind much worse ideas.
Is it Hardcore?
A cute, cartoonish game that tries to blend genres, Pocket Kingdom TD has too much going on, with very little of it leading anywhere.