With constant unlockable upgrades and simple but strategic gameplay, Castle Conqueror EX is an addictive low-cost download.
All gameplay takes place from a single non-scrolling screen. The goal is to defeat opponents through force, similar to most RTS titles. The difference here, however, is not built around micromanaging resources to upgrade an army. Instead, the single screened landscape is outfitted with towers and the player uses the stylus to connect a friendly toward to an opposing tower by drawing a connecting line. Once one of these attack lines are drawn, troops will exit the friendly tower, temporarily lowering the tower’s defense, and will charge and automatically attack the connected opposing tower until either the tower or troops fall. If troops manage to whittle down the health of the tower, that tower is then taken over and is added to your arsenal. Once all enemy towers are taken over, the stage is won and the player moved on to the next, more challenging level.
Gameplay really couldn’t be simpler; you just draw lines. However, this simple concept becomes thoughtful as there is a balancing act as to who to attack and when since sending troops will lower the tower’s defense. All this is judged with an easy to understand numbering system. Your tower might be at 13, but once you send out a troop, the tower’s defense will be lowered to 8 but your troop will then have 5 health. It is a give-and-take system that often requires quick thinking and planning ahead.
Each completed stage yields gold and is spent in the main menu to upgrade stats like attack power, troop defense, tower health, speed and more. The thing is, the player can usually upgrade one new ability after each completed stage or two so there is a constant and addicting sense of accomplishment. If you played Circle’s other sleeper hit eShop game Witch & Hero, this same concept of simple but highly addictive gameplay extends here in Castle Conqueror EX.
As addicting as this game is, this title suffers from wild difficulty swings every fifth level. Players will probably be able to casually finish the first four levels of each world without too much trouble only to run into a solid wall of defeat when trying to finish the fifth stage (which is similar to Witch & Hero). The only way to defeat these Zerging stages, the player must go back and grind previous stages to level up their army and towers. Luckily, this isn’t as bad as it sounds since the first stage can eventually be re-beaten in a matter of seconds to earn precious gold, used for upgrading. Unfortunately, this becomes a tedious way to cheat the system but a spammers gotta do what a spammers gotta do. Because of this, some stages can be finished in seconds whereas others might take a few minutes. Further, 3DS Play Coins can also be used to give troops an initial stat boost.
Besides upgrading troops, the player also has access to a constantly filling magic meter. Once enough magic has been stored, the player can tap a symbol in the bottom right corner and select one of three abilities. For example, troops might be able to overtake towers faster for 12 seconds or if a little more magic is stored, all enemy troops can be slowed to a crawl for 10 seconds. When the game first starts, the player must select between three different heroes, each with unique powers. This brings added replayability and entertainment to the game but unfortunately the player cannot switch between more than one hero in one save file, instead requiring multiple play-throughs if players want to experience everything.
The heavily outlined cartoony graphics are nicely done and the soundtrack is surprisingly good. With trumpets and other brass instruments leading the charge, literally, the soundtrack gives the impression of controlling noble swordsmen on a battlefield. In addition to the extreme difficulty swings and need for mindless grinding, the other gripe is the lack of explanation of how the game works. There is a “help” option found on the main menu that explains the basics of gameplay, but the game never explains what certain symbols mean – you just know that you will need to upgrade them.
For only a few dollars, Castle Conqueror EX is an addicting download that has a lot of game for a small price and falls right in line in terms of quality with previously released Circle Entertainment games such as Legend of Dark Witch, Wakedas, and Tappingo. Without question, Circle Entertainment has become one of my new favorite developers over the last year or so. Check them out.
In Other News: Circle recently announced that their games will be reaching Sony platforms in the near future.
Also Try: Warlocked (GBC)
Wait For It: Witch and Hero 2
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com