The Powerpuff Girls are back, and they are back in a huge way. After years off the air, these pint-sized superheroes got a major makeover, and now they’re returning to screens of all sizes. While the new cartoon is yet to premiere, the Android game, Defenders of Townsville, is an excellent way to spend the days waiting for their updated TV debut.
Defenders of Townsville is designed an awful lot like Metroid, and not just because the heroes are lacking a Y-Chromosome. The game takes advantage of the well-established world in which the Powerpuff Girls live: we know Mojo Jojo is up to no good simply because he’s awake and near the girls, who have been stripped of their powers, and need to earn them back by taking out Mojo’s evil robots.Our pint-sized heroines have no choice but to fight their way through room after room in search of modules that will help return them to their rightful places of control. When the game begins, only Buttercup is playable. She’s bound by gravity and can only throw a little punch in defense. After a while, and some updates to her attack, Buttercup releases Blossom in a boss battle, and then Blossom releases Bubbles in a battle of her own. Each girl has specific powers (Buttercup has a wide range of melee attacks, Blossom can fight with fire, and Bubbles is all about shooting ice.), but there are also power modules that allow all three girls to fly faster, fight harder, or last longer against enemy fire.
Here are some things Defenders of Townsville gets very VERY right: three levels of difficulty, an easy to navigate control system, and interchangeable animation styles. This is a game that both I and my nine year old cousin are equally likely to grab for and play. Cartoon Network planned for the learning curve between the game’s two biggest audiences with “Easy” “Normal” and “Hard” levels. The controls system; which consists of a joystick on the left side of the screen and the “fly” and “attack” buttons on the right, streamlines gameplay so that you can move and fight at the same time. Another button above the joystick makes it easy to change your special attack without taking away from your navigation. A fourth button above the attack allows you to speed up flight once you’ve unlocked that module.
I mentioned interchangeable animation before, and while this is an amazing feature of the game it’s almost an Easter egg. I’m not one to mess with the settings of a game—if it’s intended to be played a certain way I follow that template until I find a problem with it. However, while reading up on the newest Powerpuff Girls series, I stumbled upon another article about Defenders that was over the moon about the classic animation that’s included. I poked around in the settings and voila! The girls were back! I do like the new animation style and I’m really excited to see it at play in the series, but I have to say those smooth edges and bolder colors were like a sight for sore eyes after hours and hours of sugary-sweet pastels and hard-corner geometry.
The only problem I had with Defenders, and a problem that many had with Metroid as well, is the pacing. I found myself going back over rooms I thought I scoured, just because I had a new power, on the off-chance it uncovered a module. Once I got a map with indicators, I spent slightly less time chasing my own tail—but only slightly. This game requires that you retrace your steps, which is fine, but these girls are known for saving the world before bedtime…not the break of dawn.
Once you start getting some powers back, though, the pace starts to grow exponentially, and the problem starts to pale in comparison to all the good stuff. Overall, Defenders of Townsville is a solid Metroid-style game. It’s got a sprawling map that’s simple to navigate. While I would have liked a more in-depth storyline, a game that’s helping re-introduce the show for a new audience in equal measure to its older fans does well to skim the surface with a classic Big Bad.
Gameplay in Defenders of Townsville is smooth and fun; load time between rooms is negligible and the urge to 100% clear a room of enemies is both tempting before it’s accomplished, and satisfying after. There is nothing here that doesn’t belong, which makes it a clean representation of the Townsville world, and a well-developed addition to the Metroidvania family. I dare you to play it without a smile.
Is it Hardcore?
If the game were a little more fast-paced, with a deeper storyline, I would have no problem rewarding it a five. As it stands, Defenders of Townsville is a rockin’ game for the Powerpuff in all of us.