I don’t recall ever playing a “tower defense” game before about 10 years ago, and that tells my uneducated mind that it might be one of the newest subgenres at this point in time.
So while mediocrity, a/k/a Towers of Mediocrity, isn’t the greatest example of a tower defense game, it has the right elements and works as well as can be expected.
If you’ve played tower defense games in any graphical arena, it will take a little adjustment to work with mediocrity. You start with just enough cash to place one tower, but you’re limited to locations along the vertical edges of the map. Enemies with varying strengths enter at the top left and parade through the maze until they exit at the bottom right.
Your tower will only fire inward, in a straight horizontal line, and at preset intervals (in other words, not as enemies draw near). That means you would do well to place a tower in a spot that catches the onslaught as they move counter to your tower’s fire.
Otherwise, they won’t catch the force of it, and enemies that survive yank money from your reserves. So remember that it’s possible to drop a tower in a spot that isn’t strategically wise, or is even pointless. And it could be the end of the game for you.
If you survive the first round or so, you’ll be in a financial position to upgrade towers, which may or may not be appealing to you. Tower upgrades improve firepower at the cost of fire rate, meaning you may hit harder and kill stronger enemies with one punch, but you hit less often. Sometimes just another basic tower is cheaper and wiser.
If you’re smart about tower placement and conservative with your cash, you won’t find it difficult to master mediocrity in the space of about two or three rounds. Defeating enough enemies advances you to a new map, but also takes away all the cash you’ve earned.
mediocrity has enough color to satisfy me, and I can find no fault in the actual game mechanics. The opening screens will explain the scenario and some basic rules, and once you are comfortable with the tower placement sequence, it’s an easy game to learn and master.
mediocrity has sound (it plays back a scratchy portion of The Toreador Song from Carmen in a loop) so I’m willing to give points for that. But there are no options to run silent — in fact, there are no options at all. 😐
In a wider perspective though, it doesn’t compare to a lot of the triple-A titles that are available as browser games or smartphone applications — part of which is the limitation of the media, and part of which is just the way the game is made.
I have no doubt a proper and enjoyable tower defense game could be made for an 80×24 text environment, and I daresay it would probably be quite enjoyable. mediocrity is a good stab at the genre and the only one I know of for the console … but doesn’t really shine.