OTTTD (Over The Top Tower Defence) is one of the older ports I’ve played on the Nintendo eShop. Ok, so you have the NES Online games and relics such as Gods, but this isn’t a fresh release. But it still smells delicious.
Loitering around the eShop looking for new games, I stumbled across OTTTD and had a quick look at some screenshots and the trailer. I wasn’t blown away by the graphics, and it didn’t seem to introduce anything new on the surface, but I knew that the gameplay would be my cup of tea.
H is for HEROCORP
OTTTD focuses on HEROCORP. The year is 2136 (not when I write this, but when you read this) and world peace has been achieved. For a privatised army, peace doesn’t make money, so HEROCORP have created trans-dimensional rifts. These rifts allow their armies to invade alien worlds and cause a ruckus, thus making some money in the process.
In all levels, you begin with a base that can neither be moved or repaired. To protect your base, you build defence towers in allocated spots to counter any attacks. If your base is destroyed, game over, baby.
Each level is made up of a series of waves varying in number. As expected, the first waves are weaker enemies that slowly increase in strength and numbers. When you kill your enemies, you earn credits that can be used to build new towers, upgrade them or even repair. It doesn’t matter if you lose towers along the way, but as stated, lose the base and you need to restart.
Top of the Tower
If you’re familiar with the tower defence format, you have three types of attacks: impact, energy and fire. Each enemy has their weakness. Generally speaking, most enemies incur damage by impact – i.e. bullets, but there are units that use force fields. These need to be removed with energy weapons, and so on. Getting the right balance of towers is all part of the strategy and more importantly, fun.
The tower variations are impressive, and there is a good deal to choose from as you progress. Take the standard Gatling Tower, for instance. Initially, you can upgrade three times, resulting in three mini-gun barrels and doing more damage. Later you can make a long-range cannon called the Blamwitzer. It’s only one barrel but can shoot far and do a lot of damage. Third, you can create a remote turret, the Velocadrone. It’s the same as the first turret, but it floats around targeting enemies. One of the best features of this is that enemies don’t attack, so you don’t need to repair them.
Throughout the waves, towers are attacked and need to be repaired. Otherwise, they don’t function. One of the better aspects of OTTTD is that the turrets are never entirely destroyed. You just use your credits to repair, and they become operational again. An alternative method of repair is through your heroes.
I will be your hero, baby
Each mission allows you to take three controllable heroes. Heroes have their own special abilities and perks that can help you win a level. Beginning with the engineer, he has skills that revolve around being able to repair turrets without spending credits. He can fix them within close proximity or he can repair them remotely. Later perks allow him to repair multiple towers at the same time.
Other heroes include an assault-type (your tank), bombardier and rocketeer. Each one is a respective power-house but a little slow-moving. The rest of the heroes are weaker but have some devastating attacks such as the scientist (who can boost your XP), a saboteur who debuffs enemies and sets traps and my favourite, the recon who snipes from long distance without being seen. Everyone has their favourite, but the latter is a mainstay for me.
OTT levelling and skills
Unlocking the character perks means you’ll need to build XP which can be earned through the campaign and also the endless stages. There are four tiers for each character – some being passive skills, others being active. You can only have two active skills per match but can swap out between plays as and when required. All skills can be improved as well – be it a longer duration of the ability or more grenades.
Apart from the XP system, you can also earn credits to buy weapons and armour. These are pretty self-explanatory as some are energy-based, impact-based or fire-based. Balancing out your team is something worth considering, obviously. Armour is the same – the perks being movement speed, health recovery and even an XP booster. Each character has a cheese armour set that helps if you’re looking to grind some levels for extra abilities.
You can choose your perks based on your playstyle, but if you find you aren’t using a particular skill set, you can reset them. This can be done from the main menu using gems. These gems are accumulated from completing missions, as with the coins. The reset returns everything to its default, so you need to unlock each tier again when distributing the points.
A difficult time in the corps
As the Switch gets this game quite late on, it includes a few more features in comparison to the original release. For a single campaign, you are looking at 28 levels. Endless levels can be endless, but if you get past the wave 15, you’re doing alright.
The early levels ease you in well and introduce the towers. Throughout the dialogue and help text is excellent. There are various nods to ’80’s action films and they are all very welcome. As the game progresses, the difficulty jumps up quite swiftly and I found that I need to change up my strategy – mostly with the heroes I was using.
When levelling up, it only applies to the three heroes you are currently using and the points you receive each time, only allow you to increase one stat at a time. It wasn’t intentional for the developers, but this can be a bit of a grind. That said, if you’re smart enough with your towers, you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Alas, I don’t fit into that category and I ground until the cows came home. I live on a farm. I don’t.
Insert funny grinding heading here
I’m a grinder and happy with this. Interpret that sentence how you will. There were a few times when I wanted to get past a level and felt that having a solid crew would help me. Replaying the same level for 10 times or so was a little bit of a chore but as my skills improved, it no longer was a burden.
OTTTD is fun and I would happily replay the same level again and again. I would experiment with different heroes, different towers and perhaps upgrade them in different ways. The other thing is with each level you are awarded a ranking of up to three stars – unlock them all and win a prize.
For the majority of the time, I would use the Needler turret (and upgraded rocket launcher) and the Velocadrones. The Velocadrones would be placed further away so I could forget about them and the Needlers would be close to the base and I would just overpower them.
Near the last campaigns, you can’t do the classic tower defence overpower move so you have to switch it up. I know find myself using a wider combination and now a fan of Shieldemitter, Blamwitzer and Pulse Cannon. Even though I almost finished the single-player campaign with one tried and tested method, it was fun to go back and play with a different setup.
Re-rewind, when the crowd say more OTTTD
This has been on my playlist for a couple of months now on and off. Unlocking more power-ups and getting all the stars have been tricky, but I’m almost there. I could happily sit playing OTTTD in handheld mode on a Saturday night with the family film on in the background, so that’s an endorsement if anything.
Having some touchscreen support would be a nice addition. In these type of games you need to switch back and forth between units and navigate the map. I didn’t have an issue with this, surprisingly. You can use the shoulder buttons to switch units and shift between the turrets.
Unfortunately there isn’t any co-op mode, but in reality, that’s not the end of the world either. It might be fun to have a mate sniping people while you control the saboteur to setup traps without interruption.
Wind it up
The visual presentation in OTTTD is very good. It’s not a style that resonates with me, but serves the purpose. Both the soundtrack and sound effects are excellent and really stand out. I haven’t really focussed on the humour much in this review, but it’s a standout. There are loads of pop culture references and suits the overall feel of the game.
Hands down, this is one of my favourite games at the moment and quite possibly my favourite tower defence game. It’s not the big triple-A title everyone has been waiting for and not something that will appeal to the masses, but it does warrant your time. I just wished this post was a little more amusing. ‘Bum’ is all I got right now.