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Developer: Backflip Studios
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Army of Darkness Defense, from Backflip Studios, is not a quick licensed cash-in title. While it is based on the movie starring Bruce Campbell, and featuring plenty of dialogue and references to the movie, at its core it is an action-influenced castle defense game. An army of the undead is after the Necronomicon, and it is up to protagonist Ash Williams to protect it by using his trusty boomstick and chainsaw, as well as summoning units like peasants, knights, archers, and even hero units like the legendary Arthur, to keep the Deadite army from obtaining the book. These units  are summoned by using iron from the blacksmith (also dropped by enemies) to summon the units. Money is earned from completing a wave, and by collecting it from dropped enemies. These can be spent on upgrading units, castle defenses, or even Ash himself. His health and strength can be upgeaded, along with the skills he uses in battle to take out enemies, such as his Super Boomstick, and the Magic Words, which are used to summon up new units on the spot…if Ash says the right words. A wave ends when all enemies are defeated, though they have to be restarted if Ash dies or if the enemies get the Necronomicon. There are 50 waves in total, with an endless mode unlocked at the end. 

While the game is something of a castle defense game, it really plays more similarly to a 2D action game, especially with having direct control over Ash’s movement. As such, it demands a focus on playing the game and managing the hordes in a way that other similar defense games do not. Naturally, there’s the elements of resource management and unit summoning, but the game does a great job at making me feel like a field general, and being able to get down and dirty with killing deadites myself. The game is supremely addictive, having consumed a flight and a couple of train rides easily. Being familiar with the Army of Darkness franchise is not a prerequisite – but the game’s off-kilter humor left me intrigued to explore the franchise. The game also has a simple control scheme, holding on one side of the screen to move in that direction, and tapping an icon to summon that unit or use that skill.

The sounds can get to be quite annoying, as the same soundbites constantly repeat ad nauseam whenever a unit is summoned or Ash kills a deadite. The game doesn’t really get challenging until about wave 40, when units may start to overwhelm defenses, although coins collected during a failed wave are still collected, and can be used for upgrades. The game is still  quite fun up until  this point, though thoughts of the game being repetitive definitely crept up in the back of my mind.  The iPad version of the game is $2.99 compared to the iPhone’s $0.99, and there’s not much different between the versions except for interface tweaks made to make the game feel more comfortable on iPad. If it were universal, similar to World of Goo HD, I could definitely recommend the HD version.

While Army of Darkness Defense suffers from repetition issues, they are minor quibbles in what is one of my favorite castle defense games on the App Store. Even for those who are not fans of the Evil Dead franchise, the game has enough fun, addiction, humor, and lasting power to make it a definite recommendation, especially for the paltry sum of $0.99 for the iPhone/iPod touch versions. iPad-only owners would be remiss to miss out on the $2.99 HD version, as well; the game is still quite worth it at that price.

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