With the vast majority of game genres taking a more casual "kid-friendly" approach, it wasn't long before a developer sat up and decided the Wii crowd was deserving of its own RTS game. Crave Entertainment is one such developer, and their game Defendin’ DePenguin takes a shot at the age old genre while simplifying and streamlining it for younger gamers.
Defendin’ DePenguin stars Little Blue, a penguin living in a small artic village who up until very recently, didn't know how to deal with the problem of the other artic creatures stealing their fish supply. One day, while spying a crab making off with one of their prized possessions (read: a fish), he hurls a snowball at the crustacean and stops it dead in it's tracks. Inspired by his ingenuity(?), the town professor is motivated to create a snowball launcher to ward off prospective predators. Of course, he'll need someone to test out his new invention, and who better than brave Little Blue himself. This is where the story begins.
Defendin’ DePenguin is a game that follows a Tower Defense gameplay structure, where a seemingly never-ending stream of enemies spawns from one end of the map, en route to your "base", and doesn't stop until they get what they want. In this game's case, it's artic creatures trying to steal your fish. After a brief tutorial, the game lands Blue in his first stage, trying out the first of the professor's inventions, a snowball launcher with a steady rate of fire.
Setting up your weapons proves to be simple, with a simple and effective control scheme. The Wii remote is used to tell Blue where you want him to go, set down towers, and manage units. The Nunchuck is used to control the camera. Setting units down is a breeze, thanks to the simple interface, and there's a sort of glee that comes with watching them steadily pummel your enemies until they disappear off the map. Defeating enemies gives you money you can spend on either creating more units, or powering up your existing ones. As the game progresses, you'll gain access to more powerful weapons like ice cube launchers. It's the kind of simple gameplay that can lead into it being a timesink if you let it.
If I have one complaint, it's that later levels can be a bit unforgiving. Worlds progress in a Mario-esque structure (World 1-1, 1-2, etc) with towers and funds staying intact until a world is completely beaten. If you have slipped up somehow in your defense planning and have a unit or two out of place, it'll cost you greatly. Because defeating enemies is the only way to get the cash necessary to place defense units, if they're getting past, not only are they getting to your fish supply, but they're depriving you of the necessary funds to build the units that will defeat them. In these cases, a restart is required, and it isn't a sub-level restart, it's the ENTIRE world. So if you've found yourself in stage 2-5 and feel like the enemies are becoming too overwhelming due to improper planning, it's back to 2-1 for you.
Graphically, the game is underwhelming, with very basic character models and an unapologetically sparse map. Considering the fact that you'll spend a great deal of time staring at the screen and managing your placements, outside of some cute animations, it could've looked much better, but as a target audience, younger gamers won't mind much. The music isn't really anything to write home about either, with some strange and outright annoying tunes at times, but it suits the game's minimalist approach.
Defendin DePenguin is definitely aimed at the younger crowd, and its audio-visual style may turn off older gamers and genre veterans. But for newcomers and gamers looking for an easy way to start themselves off on a less intimidating note won't be disappointed.