Developer: Cobra Mobile
System requirements: Windows/Mac OS, 95 MB hard-drive space
Genre: Tower defense
ESRB rating: Not rated
Release date: Available now
We can learn a lot about life from games. For example, the archetypical tower-defense game requires you to assume a passive role and defend against waves of invaders, yet you’re never allowed to offensively strike back, or even tactically retreat. Victory is impossible; only non-defeat can be achieved. Even then, we merely shift to a new battlefield, often not of our choosing. For all of the genre’s inherent meaning, it’s surprising that there are no bullying or racial minority-themed TDs. Yet, on the genre tree, we must first pass through the “WWII Belt” before reaching more fruitful branches. And yet, as iBomber Defense demonstrates, perhaps this isn’t the worst place to be.
iBomber Defense follows the TD recipe while adding its own flourishes. Enemies creep down preset paths while your towers pink away. This time, however, the enemies shoot back, slowly damaging your defenses and giving you a repair bill to manage. If you’re blindsided by a particular wave, then you can rewind to before the wave hit to save your future bacon.
After every mission, you’re awarded an upgrade point that you can use to unlock new towers or increase their possible upgrade levels, plus an additional point if you have a perfect game. Every three or so levels, you’re given an ambush challenge, in which you revisit a previous mission just as you left it, but bombers have torn a new path through it and ruined your carefully laid plans, forcing you to quickly adopt a new strategy.
iBomber might seem like a nice, simple TD, but don’t mistake it for an easy one. Of the three difficulty levels, don’t be surprised if you find yourself playing on the lowest, even if you’re a TD veteran. Playing on easy really does feel like normal for, say, Defense Grid. But once you get a good grip on the gameplay, you can go back and try it on the harder settings, which adds a lot of replayability. Between two campaigns and two bonus missions, you’ll find a staggering 24 different scenarios. There’s an incredible amount of game in iBomber Defense for its $5 price tag.
iBomber’s iOS heritage shows in a number of ways. First, it’s taken its parent’s naming scheme. Second, it looks like a flash game (but don’t hold that against it; this is the era of Indie Tolerance, after all). Third, it doesn’t know you have a keyboard with a hundred buttons. However, its click-and-drag scheme actually suits the game well. Even so, it would be nice to have keyboard shortcuts for the time controls. This is pretty obviously related to its touchscreen genes. A less obvious accusation is the lack of clear stats. iBomber learned too much from its Apple parents and decided that showing you things such as rate of fire, damage and HP simply confound instead of illuminate. But while it’s remarkably easy to intuit good strategy, the inability to quantify that strategy is an oversight.
But that’s just picking at the pudding. iBomber Defense has solid tower-based action with plenty of maps that require defending. If you want a set-path TD that runs well on even a low-end computer, its hard to beat. At its $5 price point with PC and Mac, it should be an instant buy for genre fans and a strong consideration for the curious.