When I’m thinking of my most favourite games genre, Tower Defence sadly doesn’t feature too highly on that list. When I saw that Krinkle Krusher, by Brazilian developer; Ilusis Interactive Graphics, was a new twist on Tower Defence, I was intrigued. The trailers made it look a fun-filled way to spend some time. Would Krinkle Krusher be able to push Tower Defence up in my own estimations?
The story behind the game is simple. Your town is built around an ancient tree which hasn’t borne fruit in living memory. Now the tree is giving forth it’s bounty, for the good of the town. Unfortunately, this fruiting has awoken an ancient enemy, the Krinkle King, from its slumber and it has released hungry Krinkles to devour everything the tree has sprouted. You are the town Mage, tasked with defending the walls from these supposedly evil creatures.
Now, with the safest place for the Mage being inside the town walls, he’ll need some assistance in the defence department. This comes in the form of a magic glove called Gauntly that can float outside the walls and out of reach of the hungry Krinkles. There’s the premise. How does the game stack-up?
The game itself is pretty simple to play. Outside of the inner town walls there are some suburban avenues. These act as ideal funneling points for the Krinkles to attack and similarly, for you to defend. Gauntly, having five digits has the capability to wear five magic rings, provided by the Mage over the course of the 60 levels you can play. You’re initially given the Lightning ring and taught some very important info about its use. The main point here is that a ring’s use drains its power which regenerates in a defined amount of time. If you drain a ring’s power too much it will break and that power cannot be used until it has regenerated fully. This is inconvenient at the best of times, so you’ll need to watch the ring power states carefully.
The rings also come in Fire, Tornado, Ice and Mud flavours to help you decide the most effective combination to take out the relentless troopers coming to attack the town. Each new ring will also unlock a new elemental trooper that exhibits some resistance to that ring. For example, one Krinkle you’ll see is on fire, and any fire trap set for this trooper will cause it to grow rather than take damage. Lay multiple traps of that nature for that trooper and they will eventually reach a critical mass that a couple of bursts of lightning will cause them to explode, taking out any unfortunate Krinkles that are in the vicinity.
So far, all of this has been controlled by the left stick and the X,Y, A, B buttons. The D-Pad is also utilised in the game to lay diversionary traps or wall integrity upgrades. The diversionary trap is a massive wagonload of food that any nearby enemy are instantly drawn to. This makes it easy to hit them with something destructive and take them out. If I have a criticism of this approach, it’s that you cannot choose the location of this wagon. It is simply plonked up near the start of the playing area and any enemy that have already passed that point are unaffected by it.
Once you’ve stopped all of the enemy for that stage, your performance is ranked with a star system. Get three stars and you’ll earn a gem. Get enough gems and you can open the Mage’s room. In here you can upgrade the power of the rings you can use and the strength of the town walls the Krinkles are attacking. While this is a good feature, the fact that you have to unlock this before you can access it means that for at least a third of the game, you’ll have no chance of using it. As we’ll see later in this review, this has a significant impact on the gameplay and enjoyment of this title.
Graphically, Krinkle Krusher uses the tried and tested heavy-line cartoon effect animations. These on the whole are very well executed. The Krinkles all move fluidly, there are some nice touches with the area backgrounds but the basic level layout remains the same. Gauntly moves well around the game area and there’s a small animation when you place a magic trap on the path that the Krinkle will take to get to you. The weapons are again, well animated. The fire, lightning and tornado effects all look like they’re supposed to, as does the damage effect on the Krinkles themselves.
There’s some rather entertaining background music, which doesn’t seem to grate on the nerves as much as the difficulty level. Both the Mage and Gauntly have some interaction with Gauntly being more than a little tetchy on occasion. While those Krinkles are being fried, burnt or pushed back, they’ll each make a manic noise, which, while it is well executed, is a little annoying after a while, especially as there appears to be no obvious pattern to the amount of times or order of attack that is best for each enemy.
Herein lies the main issue with Krinkle Krusher. While the game itself may be well presented and the gameplay mechanics easy enough to pick up, if you were expecting any easy ride, then think again. In fact, there appears to be absolutely no logical difficulty curve. I sailed through the first three levels then got massively unstuck on the fourth. It was immensely frustrating. If I’d had a cat, I’d have been kicking it. I had to give up and come back to it at a later time.
This seemed to do the trick and I eventually mastered the level and the next few, until it caught me again. It’s a real bind on your time when you keep trying to progress on a game and it is simply hampered by a difficulty curve that’s massively skewed and I can’t help but mark the title down for this. Almost destroying a controller out of frustration isn’t fun. If the aforementioned Mage’s Room was available from the start, you’d be able to upgrade the magical rings and make things a little easier, even if it was a temporary power-boost.
Summing up Krinkle Krusher, I can certainly appreciate that a lot of work has gone in to the graphic design. The level designs are rudimentary in the way that they rarely deviate from the endless trudge towards you. It’s well constructed with a solid story to get you going. The game is, however, unforgivably frustrating in parts. If you’ve got an older controller that you need to get rid of, play this in a long session. I guarantee you, that controller will be in bits by the end of it. There is some replay value in that though. You just have to have another go to see if you can finish that level. The tried and tested star system also gives you a reason to have another go, especially if you want to unlock that Mage’s Room. Krinkle Krusher then, it hasn’t moved Tower Defence games on my preference list as it is crushingly frustrating, but OK in short bursts. Once you get past that massive difficulty spike at the start of the game, the first levels get much easier and you can finally make some progress.
Thanks to Ilusis Interactive Graphics and Xbox for their support
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