Traditionally, tower defense games have been relegated to flash databases or Warcraft 3 custom maps to be digested on a semi-casual basis, but full-fledged standalone titles featuring variations on traditional TD mechanics like the viral (no pun intended) Plants vs. Zombies have proven its credibility as a successful genre in a time where triple-A “hardcore” titles reign supreme. Fire Hose Games, known previously for puzzle/fighter mash-up Slam Bolt Scrappers, makes another case for tower defense games with Go Home Dinosaurs!
Unlike Plants vs. Zombies, Go Home Dinosaurs! offers more traditional TD gameplay, with enemies spawning from a predetermined point to travel on a single fixed path toward a defensible goal, which, in this case, is a grill upon which rest three steaks that the titular dinosaurs want enough to send swathes of their suicidal siblings to their explosive end. Dynamite, positioned conveniently as a last resort defensive measure, detonate upon contact with any member of the dinosaur horde and knocks steaks off the grill – these determine scoring at the end of a level, and losing all of them means losing the level.
Prior to beginning a level, players are prompted to choose from any number of towers that they have unlocked over the course of gameplay to be placed on the playing field, similar to Plants vs. Zombies. This “loadout” system can make for an extra layer of strategy, but this really only comes into play once a good number of towers have been unlocked, and even then its usage may just boil down to “brute-forcing” a level until a certain set of towers works. Getting stuck on a level, which happened to me once or twice, is frustrating, but getting the right loadout fixes that rather quickly.
The gopher avatar doubles as a tower as well as a gatherer of coconuts, the resource used to place towers. Tower diversity is relatively simple – there’s a slowing tower, a “sniper tower,” etc. – but each tower is also constrained to specific shapes to conform to the map grid, mixing some space and resource management into the mix.
The dinosaur units that bear down on your delicious steaks are pretty standard, but this goes hand in hand with the simple TD gameplay that the game strives for. Units range from being capable of bursts of speed, to moving in large packs, or having two effective lives, and exclude more classic TD staples, like aerial units that can only be targeted by specific towers. Every so often a boss unit will be encountered, and behave just like a boss should, with a large heath pool and a host of minions to distract your towers.
Winning levels grants players coins with which to purchase power-ups to be activated in a capacity similar to the towers, costing coconuts, but granting increased damage or summoning three extra gopher-robots. Despite this they aren’t particularly enticing and some players may find them taking up precious loadout slots that a tower could be occupying.
Game length is relatively short at around four to five hours and aside from replaying levels for better scores, there just isn’t a terrible amount of stuff to do. There are some cosmetic unlockables like skins for your player avatar or the option to replace your steaks with a vegan-friendly alternative, but aside from this, the game basically ends once the last level does.
Dedicated tower defense fans may find the lack of depth and cartoony visuals to be less than desirable, but casual fans looking for a game with just the right amount of complexity to fit into a quick session or two should pick up this very affordable time-waster.
Available on: PC; Publisher: Fire Hose Games; Developer: Fire Hose Games; Players: 1; Released: March 14, 2013; ESRB: Everyone; MSRP: $9.99: Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.