Version tested: Wii
With so many games greedily - and presumptuously - placed in the premium 1000-Point WiiWare price bracket, it's refreshing to be able to report on a title that knows its limits.
A remake of the popular internet game, it asks you to live up to the title by repelling wave after wave of stick-men invaders. You do this by picking them up and flinging them as hard as you can so that they squish on the ground. In the original, this is a messy and bloody affair. Here, in Nintendo-land, it's all been sanitised with a deliberately lo-fi hand-made feel.
Like those epic biro battles scrawled on the covers of countless schoolbooks, it's as if a malevolent child's imagination has burst into life. Some of the crudely sketched barbarians carry lolly stick battering rams. Others roll cap-gun ammunition instead of demolition equipment. Giants arrive with heads made from cola bottle tops. All are determined to reduce the "helth" of your castle to zero.
For each invader you toss to their doom, you earn points and these can be traded in between rounds to repair damage, increase your health or upgrade the castle to offer more defences. The Pit of Conversion, yours for just 5000 points, is a pot of blue paint into which you can drop your enemies. They then become your soldiers, and can be assigned to different duties by adding special abilities to each of the four castle turrets. Archers, magicians and cap-wheeling suicide bombers are your offensive options, while yet more can be tasked with repairing damage as it's inflicted.
It's all rather charming and fun, but the pace and structure of the game are such that you'll have purchased everything within a few hours - and probably developed a repetitive strain injury from making the exact same flicking motion hundreds of times. You can easily exit each level with over 40,000 points, which is more than enough to purchase every upgrade within the first ten levels. Not that it really matters, since your best defence is always your own flicking actions - the archers are hopeless, doing nothing to fend off attackers directly at the gates, while the four magic attacks are cute but limited. The demolition men are quite useful, but you can just as easily click on an enemy bomber for the same effect.
It's good to see another internet developer getting the chance to make some money from their hard work. They've just about fleshed out the game enough to make 500 Points a reasonable asking price, especially with four-player co-op, but it's still a very small and shallow game that gives away too much too soon. There's definitely potential here to build something more robust, with multiple power-ups and numerous enemy types, but Defend Your Castle becomes a mindless slog far too quickly to warrant repeat plays.
5 / 10