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Our Review by Chris Hall on April 28th, 2009
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: ENTERTAINING
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StickWars is an interesting variation on the castle defense genre. The game is pretty fun, with a good amount of things to do in the early levels, but some of the later levels suffer from the inability to further reinforce your castle. It's hard not to re

Developer: John Hartzog.
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound [rating:3/5]
Gameplay [rating:3/5]
Fun [rating:4/5]
Lasting Appeal [rating:3/5]

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

StickWars is, at it's core, a variation of the castle defense genre. Don't confuse this with the tower defense genre though, because they aren't the same in any way. Castle defense games basically boil down to you, the ruler of the castle, doing whatever you can to defend the castle walls before the oncoming troops tear it down. This variation, unlike many of the other variations, uses stick figures for the enemy troops and you, as a god of some sort, have to personally do kill the enemy troops. Sure, you can buy things like archers later (and we'll get into that), but the majority of the destruction comes from your finger flicking people high enough into the air that they die from ground impact. Most of the time there are so many enemies on the screen that I have developed a finger swiping method that is almost invincible... it just makes me look a bit unstable. My tongue hangs out and I look like I'm abusing my phone... not a good thing. I've even been told that the game makes me look like I have some sort of mental illness. I don't really like looking like I have a mental illness, so I don't plan on playing this game in public anytime soon. Maybe if I get called on for jury duty... maybe.

The game starts with you, as a castle, set up firmly on the left 1/3 of the screen. Little stick figures start running at the castle walls from the right side, and when they get to the walls, they start banging on them. The walls have a certain amount of hit points, which can be upgraded or repaired between levels, and when the walls die, you lose. Eventually battering rams that do mega damage also enter the scene, but not till some of the later levels. To defend your castle walls, you must must use a few of the tools at your disposal, some of which need to be bought with the money you get from killing the stick people.

Tools of Stick Death
Flick- The flick method, while being the most effective, is the most ridiculous way to kill anything... ever. The goal of the flick death is to fling the stick invaders high enough so that when they land, they splatter. There is an option within the main menu to increase the amount of blood that comes out per splatter, and of course I like the max amount of blood possible. Since each person on the screen needs to be flung into the air, you quickly will develop a similar swipe method to mine, which will in turn make you seem mentally unstable.

Suicide Bombers: The first base defense unit in the game is very nicely called a prison. I thought, maybe my prisoners will make my walls stronger, or maybe they will make things pretty... never in a million years did I expect what they actually do. First thing you have to do to capture prisoners is to nicely drop them into the prison that is inside of your castle wall. Unfortunately only one prisoner at a time can be in the prison, but the wait to put the next prisoner in is only about 30 seconds. After the prisoner is processed, you either shake the screen or hit the bomb button in the lower right corner to release a man holding a huge bomb. When I hit the bomb button again, he blows himself up, killing all around him. He is, in fact, a suicide bomber.

"Hey kids... this is what we do with all our prisoners!" "Really?"

Archery Tower: Later on in the game, there is another option for the lowly prisoner, and that is to be trained as an archer. Archers shoot arrows at the oncoming stick people's heads, and they always hit. The more prisoners you add to archery, the more dead stick guys you'll see at any given time. Unfortunately, there are no arrow shooting graphics in the game, so you don't get a chance to witness the full awesomeness of the archers... all you see is an arrow sticking in people's heads. Be weary of arrow deaths though, they give you less money per kill than flinging people up in the air.

Wizard Tower: The wizard tower is perhaps the most entertaining way to use your prisoners. Wizards in the game have two uses. Their first power allows you to double tap on the stick fighters to capture them... pretty neat. The second power, the best power in the game, is double tap the screen to summon a giant meteor that kills everything in a giant radius. These kills also bring you less money than the flinging death kills, but the meteor is quite entertaining.

Repair Tower?: The repair tower kills nothing, but I figured that I would throw it in with the rest of the tower upgrades. This tower allows you to recruit prisoners to fix your walls throughout the level. Yeah... that's about it.

That Loving Feeling
Games like this, ones where graphics and story are not the main feature, require an extra special something in order to be successful. Fieldrunners and Flight Control have it, but I'm not so sure that StickWars does. The problem with StickWars is that it lacks the rewarding feeling that you get when you get to the 80th plane of Flight Control or level 70 in Fieldrunners. In StickWars, by level 20 you've seen everything the game has to offer, and all you are doing is assaulting your iPhone with finger swipes... a tiring experience after a few levels. Don't get me wrong, the game is fun, but it just isn't quite fun enough to make you feel ecstatic about the purchase.

For the price of a single Gatorade on sale at the gas station you could have a reasonable excuse to pulverize your iPhone screen. The game could use a bit more depth, as in a few more towers and some more enemy units, but it's an overall fun experience. Hopefully, in the next few months some updates will come out that will make the game any better, but I don't think that it will ever reach the $0.99 mecca that is Flight Control. One idea for the developer... instead of a score, I'd like to see a running tally of units killed. That might in itself give me a reason to go back and challenge my friends to score challenges. Having my score be an arbitrary number over 158,000 seems a bit impersonal.

iPhone Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

StickWars screenshot 1

iPad Screenshots

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StickWars screenshot 2
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