Developer: Beijing Raytoon Technology
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆


In an App Store full of clones and rehashes players can get a little desperate searching for the one thing that makes a game different from all the rest. In MangoHero’s case that means trying to figure out what makes it more than just a Plants vs. Zombies knock-off. While its combination mechanic may seem like a small difference, in practice it goes a long way towards giving the game its own distinct flavor.

The game’s story mode, or “stroy mode” as the English translation would have players believe, has something to do with woodland creatures fighting rock monsters over mangoes but really, who cares? How much set-up for a tower defense game does one really need? The point is to build defenses strong enough to withstand increasingly difficult enemy hordes. At first the grid-based layout and direct enemy confrontation feel almost exactly like Popcap’s modern classic but MangoHero reveals its big twist early on.

Instead of gaining stronger units as the game progress, players bring certain base units into battle like bear fighters and cat wizards, and then merge like units together to create stronger versions of them. Higher combination chains are subsequently unlocked and because currency recharges automatically soon players will spend all their matches worrying about how to make eight low level bears in time to make a high level panda. It’s a really clever gimmick and the quick swiping needed to combine units gives the game a unique, frantic pace and level of active participation not usually seen in the genre. Diagonal swipes don’t register as well on the grid but for the most part the controls hold up just fine.

The rest of game feels more standard by comparison but it is in no way bad. There are around 60 levels split into three worlds with distinct art styles. In general, the cartoon, ancient Chinese look and sound the game is going for is pleasant enough but doesn’t rise above the myriad of MapleStory-style free-to-play MMOs out there. Players can use spells like lightning and demolition attacks but they are so limited and take so much time/real money to replenish that they are barely worth it.

While it is surrounded by a decent package, the real reason to play MangoHero is for its neat “combination” style of tower defense gameplay. It may not be the future of the genre but it is a tiny welcome breath of fresh air.

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