Developer: Square Enix
Price: $7.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

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

Rating: ★★★½☆

Crystal Defenders for iPad is a port of one of the first Square Enix iPhone games, a tower defense title featuring Final Fantasy-inspired units. Almost two years later, Square Enix has brought it to the iPad, but despite the pedigree it carries, it’s just a rather plain tower defense title.

The basic rules are the same as most every other tower defense title – you place units of varying abilities around the battlefield, trying to keep them from getting to your side of the map, and allowing too many enemies to get to your goal leads to the end of the game. There are 3 variations on the game, each with different maps and differing mechanics, the W1, W2, and W3 modes. W1 is the most basic, featuring just basic tower defense mechanics. W2 introduces power crystals that affect units in their area of effect with boosts to attack power, speed, and range. W3 features a different set of units, and a higher difficulty level than the other modes.

The use of the Final Fantasy units and enemies adds a bit of familiarity to the game, and it’s neat to fight enemies such as the Malboros that are ever-present throughout the series. As well, summons like Ramuh, Ifrit, and giant Chocobos are available, making use of some nostalgia to appeal to the player. As well, the 3 different modes allow for variations on the game while keeping the core mechanics the same, and there’s a total of 12 maps available to play on, each tracking its own high score.

Crystal Defenders suffers in its interface and controls, however. The GUI uses a ton of empty space in the borders, making the main gameplay window smaller than it needs to be. Also, the enemy entry positions are not delineated by the game in any way – they’re usually on the left side that shows the list of upcoming enemies, but on a couple of levels they’re not, so you just have to guess where the enemies will come from. If you want to select your units, you pretty much can’t do it during the action, you have to pause and drag over the screen to the unit’s placement point if you want to select it to upgrade it. The controls just feel far more unintuitive than they have any need to be.

Despite the different variations of gameplay available and the Final Fantasy-inspired units, this all feels kind of bland simplistic. There are hardly any innovations to the tower defense genre, it’s just a basic tower defense game with little variation on the concept. Final Fantasy fans and those new to tower defense will enjoy this game, but otherwise, it winds up being kind of a ho-hum experience.

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