(Multiplatform) REVIEW & STRATEGY GUIDE: Towers Trap
In my latest Misc News collection, I’ve already recommended Towers Trap, a brand new game on two mobile (Windows Mobile and Symbian S60) and desktop Windows platforms. GameZoneProject’s official page is HERE. No matter what platform you have, I really-REALLY recommend giving the trial a try and play through the (initial) tutorial. (Again, you’ll have text rendering problems on VGA Windows Mobile devices). I’m pretty sure you’ll like the game.
In this strategy guide, I give you a far better and more thorough introduction to the game than the demo tutorial of the game. This includes explaining the difference between the available weapon types, the enemy (the "creeps"), how the maze should be constructed etc. That is, first, make sure you play through the demo. After this, either start the Easy mode – or the 8k one so that you actually have a chance against the creeps. In a nutshell: creeps, your enemies, enter from the top and left. They must be stopped from reaching the other side. If they do, you lose lives. You only have 50 lives to start with, meaning you can only let 49 creeps reach the other side before the end of the game, which, at least in the 8k mode, consists of 80 waves of creep invasion.
The game is very well playable on touchscreen-enabled mobile platforms (and, of course, desktop Windows with mouse / stylus). On touchscreen-less ones like Microsoft Smartphone (Windows Mobile 6 Standard) or Symbian S60v3, playing the game is a little bit more complicated as the cursor moves pretty slow through the field. Hope a future version adds hotkeys for quickly jumping for example half a screen in a direction (utilizing the currently not used buttons). On the other hand, these platforms support quick weapon selection (using the numbers).
Now, let’s take a look at how the weapons can / should be used.
Weapons at our disposal
Sniper. Very useful, ranged, anti-ground&air, non-area-damage (non-splash) weapon with multiple functionalities. In the beginning of the game, it’s what you’ll need to buy (unless you play in the 8k mode) to successfully defend yourself against at least the first few waves of creeps until you can purchase more advanced weapons like Shocks and, even better, Earthquakes and/or Cannons.
However, its usage doesn’t end at this! It’s not just an early game weapon. Actually, I’ve found it much more useful than the Cannon & Air combo when talking about ranged weapons. (That is, I’ve lost almost all of my 8k games when I’ve gone mass-Cannon & Air, unlike with mass-Snipers. Both using the recommended three-wide vertical structures, mostly Earthquakes being outside and Cannons / Airs / Snipers inside to be protected from the lockdown of Ice creeps.
Rocket Launchers. (Referred to as Luncher.) Much better (almost twice as long) initial range than those of Snipers. It’s also somewhat stronger. However, it costs double the price and can’t be used against air opponents.
Cannon. This very expensive, (only) anti-ground weapon has pretty low (2) damage and moderate range (between that of Sniper and Rocket Launcher).
Shock. While it’s pretty weak (5) and has as bad a range as Sniper, it has a very useful feature: it slows down all creeps it manages to shoot at for quite a lot of time. This is essential. However, as it’s mostly because of this (pretty much permanent) side-effect that it’s worth using and, otherwise, has low damage, I don’t recommend going for mass-deployment. In most cases, 10-14 will be sufficient even in end-games: 4-5 Shocks at both entrances and, if you have a long (ground) path, some additional Shocks when the initial shocking effect is eliminated.
This only anti-air weapon, Air, is much stronger (strength: 20 vs. 8) than the other anti-air-capable one, Sniper and has a much bigger range (10 vs. 6). However, in practice, I’ve found going the mass-Sniper (with some Shocks, placed at both entrances, to slow them down right at entering the field) route better in games. Remember: if you absolutely don’t use Airs and go the mass-Sniper route, it’s only the last two tides of creep airplane ships that may have a chance to get past of your defense (in 8k games).
Earthquake is an anti-ground weapon only. You will want to go the (mass-) Earthquake route as soon as possible as it has excellent splash (that is, damaging several creeps at the same time) damage (70; compare this to the 2 of the Cannon, the 8 of Sniper or 10 of Rocket Launcher). Its range isn’t very good (6) and upgrading it is very expensive (compared to, say, Snipers); therefore, you’ll want to place them to the creep path as closely as possible, while backing them up (mostly against the icy opponents) with Snipers and, possibly, some (very few) Cannons to easily get rid of closely-packed creeps / Shocks to make sure the initial slowdown / shock delivered to the creeps is safely repeated.
Radar. This is a passive structure with the only aim of showing invisible creeps. As is described below, in the "Enemy creeps" section, in general, it suffices to place only two or three of them (fully upgraded) onto the battlefield. Note that the icy creeps also block Radars; during this, invisible creeps will creep in undetected. Therefore, make sure you protect them in the same way as ranged weapons behind Earthquakes.
The (initial) stats of all these weapons is presented in the stats area:
This shows the strength in the top left corner (10 in this case), build cost (20) and range (10; bottom left).
The most notable creeps you need to pay particular attention to:
The bombs, , have the bad habit of jumping over empty corners like the following:
The solution is not leaving any empty corners on the field; always use "covered" or "filled" corners like this:
The satellites, , are very fast. Shocks are essential for slowing them down.
The airplanes, , are the only air enemies. In my 8k practice, I’ve found that while "simple" Snipers deal less considerably damage to them, even a battalion of 8-10 upgraded Airs (the dedicated anti-air weapon), placed in the center of the gaming field, won’t stop at least the last two, most powerful tides of then-superstrong airplanes. Just putting at least four columns of Snipers and one column (as recommended) of Shocks (in the entrance) will almost completely stop even the last two tides of them.
When I tried placing a massive amount of Airs in the center of the battlefield, I generally lost my 8k games because it’s very important to have as many anti-ground ranged weapons in there . These means, most preferably, Earthquakes backed up (where ice can’t affect them) Snipers as Rocket Launchers can’t be used for anti-air and Cannons, while excellent against enemies coming in a bunch, aren’t as powerful as the mass Earthquake + Sniper combo.
The yellow guys, , come in a group as in . This means Cannons (which do splash damage affecting very adjacent enemies) and, to a lesser degree, Earthquakes are especially useful against them.
The invisible folks, , make it necessary to build Radars on the field. Fortunately, splash damage done by Cannon / Earthquake is effective against them even when invisible if there are visible enemies (very) close to them. I recommend putting two radars in the two entrances (and upgrading them entirely) and another one in the lower right corner to get rid of the remaining ones.
The boss (a black ball - remember the one – see for example THIS – in Epyx’ Impossible Mission?) is worth trying to eliminate at any rate as it gives at least 100 points. That is, try not to bring it to the field with the other enemies so that all your weapons can shoot at it. Also, if the field is doesn’t have many other creeps making it hard to guarantee you can build the tower back, use the tricks like quickly altering the path of these balls by quickly removing a tower - and, when the have come sufficiently close, re-building it. With a loss of 2 dollars a time (if you use a non-upgraded Sniper for the trick), you can give the AI a hard time and keep the two bosses in the maze for quite long, until they indeed get destroyed.
Finally, Ice, , is by far the worst enemy: it disables all kinds of weapons (even Radars!) in its close vicinity. A very good counter-measure is not using columns of single or even two weapons, but – horizontally – group your weapons into groups of three. The two external weapons should be Earthquakes and the inner one a Sniper. The majority of my screenshots show exactly this setup. This way, even when the Ice creeps disable the outer Earthquakes, the inner Sniper will still be able to shoot at them. Nevertheless, be prepared to see some of them pass even the strongest weapons. Fortunately, this will only be an issue with the last about two waves – at least in 8k games, if you quickly build up your structures – not leaving out the three-wide walls of weapons as can be seen in the following screenshot:
(Note that the full-screen screenshots have all been taken on a desktop PC to make my life easier (compared to all the hassles of taking screenshots on phones...). The game looks exactly the same on VGA devices. On QVGA ones, the sprites aren't high-res and the non-active (game) area is much smaller.)
An example screenshot of showing these creatures locking down the nearby towers (showing a massive attack; that is, swamping the maze on purpose. Of course, you won’t want to do anything like this, particularly not at the end of the game, where not even splash weapons like Earthquakes or Cannons will be able to destroy most of them)
Here, locked-down towers are white.
Tips & tricks
* in 8k games, it’s worth deploying Shocks right at the beginning in the first row so that the enemies are slowed down right at the beginning, giving your weapons much more time to take them out. Also, make sure that if you manage to build up a multi-column defensive structure like the one in the screenshot below:
then, place some additional Shocks in the points far away from the start because the shock (and the consequential slowdown) goes away after a while. In the above shot, there’s one in the lower right corner and the path is built up in a way that it takes the enemies back to the upper block of several long-range Shocks, making sure that all your enemies are slowed down (again). Of course, the artificial intelligence of the app gives priority to shooting at enemies having been further on the field; that is, in a structure like this the Shocks will shoot at the enemies coming from down and not just entering the field. Of course, this is what one would expect.
I show you three shots of 8k games I successfully completed. Now, based on the rest of this Strategy Guide, you’ll understand why I’ve gone the mass-Earthquake + Sniper route (with some Shocks in addition to slow down the enemies).
* there is a nice trick worth keeping in mind: the game constantly evaluates the shortest path and dynamically re-routes the enemies if it founds a shorter path to the exit. This means if you quickly destroy a tower, the game might re-route the enemies to go through the hole. While this can be pretty dangerous (I’ve lost several games because I wasn’t able to replace the tower fast enough – if you try to build it while there’re enemies on the ground / over it, it won’t work; then, you’ll need to re-select the tower icon to build and try to build it again) if the last (or the just-coming) enemies are still pretty near, if they aren’t, it can pay off by forcing them to go backwards. Some screenshots showing removing a low-cost Sniper (to minimize costs – remember you always lose 20% at every sell) at the top of the center column:
(the enemies have left the tower but the shortest path to the target would still be through the hole created by removing the tower)
(the enemies still under the newly-created hole start moving backward, which is also shown by their "faces" looking up. During this, they take extra damage from your weapons they’re passing again)
(another screenshot – from a bit later)
Of course, try not to wait too long – rebuild your tower before it’s too late and the enemies start pouring over the new hole:
- CPU usage. While it certainly doesn’t necessarily need 100% CPU, it still uses it (as of the just-released 1.1 version), resulting it most CPU’s chewing through the battery very-very fast. On the desktop, you’ll want to force underclocking; for example, with the free(!) Notebook Hardware Control. For example, on my 1 GHz Centrino-based HP TC1100 tablet, forcing the system to remain at 600 MHz radically decreased overheating and battery usage. You can do the same on non-VGA Windows Mobile devices too (the game is a bit slow on VGA ones). Note that it’s also pretty quickly chews through the batteries on Symbian S60: it consumes about 1.2W (as opposed to the ~0.3W when the game isn’t running and the backlight is on). Finally, also note that, on Symbian, the current version seem to have some sound problems (tested on the v21 Nokia N95).
- Speed problems on some high-resolution (VGA) devices. Strangely, it’s pretty slow on my Windows Mobile 6.1-based, 624 MHz / PXA-270 Dell Axim x51v (which is one of the, unfortunately, very few models to come with a hardware underclocker utility built-in) – definitely slower than on the PXA310-based, VGA iPAQ 210. (This means underclocking the Axim to 208 MHz renders the game plain unplayable). I had no speed problems running it on QVGA devices (the 195 MHz TI OMAP 850-based WM 6.1 HTC Wizard and the 400 MHz PXA-255-based WM2003 HP iPAQ 2210), on the other hand.
- No upgrade info is given on the new range and strength – unlike with some of the comparable games; most importantly, Desktop Tower Defense (see below). With the former, only beforehand – after the upgrade, you’ll already see the new range by clicking the tower. An example of this is shown HERE, where the last-but-one Sniper is selected having all the upgrades and, therefore, a very impressive range.
- It’s not possible to cancel the process of selling a tower. This is really bad as it’s very easy to click selling a tower on a Pocket PC (this is less of an issue on non-touchscreen platforms and desktop Windows). If enemies start pouring over the newly-created hole, you may be doomed and may need to restart the game. And, if no such thing happens, you still need to purchase the tower again (and upgrade it if necessary), which means a loss of 20% money.
- Multiplatform (both WinMo platforms, Symbian S60v3 and desktop Windows)
- Hi-res on VGA (albeit can be a bit slow on some devices)
- Really-really addictive
- Trial version not crippled and can be started several times before it expires
- Online high score table
Compared to Desktop Tower Defense…
You may already know Desktop Tower Defense (DTD for short). It has a bit similar weapons and strategy to use; for example, DTD doesn’t have any invisible enemies. A quick comparison between its weapons and their Towers Trap counterparts:
Pellet Tower = Sniper
Squirt Tower = no real counterpart (it isn’t an equivalent of Rocket Launcher as the latter is anti-ground only)
Dart Tower = Cannon (with the same splash damage)
Swarm Tower = Air
Frost Tower = Shock (with splash damage; Shock doesn’t have splash damage, unfortunately)
Note that as it doesn’t have anything like the icy enemy (locking down nearby towers), the TDD example mazes available for example HERE aren’t as useful under Towers Trap. You may still want to give them a look.
Unfortunately, there’re no hotkeys in Towers Trap, not even with the help of external button redefiner apps to, for example, quickly start the next round etc. In this respect, TDD is definitely better. Hope this shortcoming will also be fixed.