Who wants to defend a garden from zombies when you can defend a castle from MUTANT ZOMBIES?

Fans of defense games, rejoice. In the midst of an over-crowded field, we have a new game to celebrate. It’s called Legendary Wars, and it’s a delightful, goofy little game that successfully incorporates a slew of different genres.

Many games fail because they can’t do one thing well and instead do several in a mediocre way. Legendary Wars, meanwhile, does just about everything right. As opposed to other defense titles, this game features a number of different play modes incorporated into the overall campaign. In fact, while it’s primarily a defense game, there are a number of other elements that make it feel like it’s part RPG, part strategy game, and part side-scrolling platformer.

Legendary Wars

Most of the game’s levels require players to defend their castle, which sits firmly on the left side of the map, by gathering resources and building units. There’s an ongoing incursion of creatures like zombies, skeletons, and vampires; in some levels the waves just have to be outlasted, while other maps demand that players build up and send out their own forces to wipe out enemy bases. Finally, there are levels where a single character runs across a map, has to avoid obstacles, and kill the monsters that occasionally show up as they blaze by.

Player-controlled characters have two different attacks, one basic and one special. Basic attacks happen by default, but the special attack has to be manually triggered with a button on the right side of the screen when enough energy has accumulated.

Between levels, the game’s RPG elements come into play with The Armory, which allows for upgrades to units and the castle to be made. Here, players spend gold and gems earned from their victories to make these upgrades, and just about every unit attribute can be customized to a player’s style. If one happens to be short on gold for upgrades, then they can always replay prior levels and earn some extra money.

After a while, there are a lot of levels to replay: the game’s world has five different territories and over fifty different levels to battle through. Thankfully things don’t get old even with this enormous amount of content due to different settings, mission goals, and units.

Legendary Wars

Every level consists of three attack lanes, which characters can shift between on the fly. This is a bit different from other, similar, titles that use only one lane. Every time a unit is built, it’s assigned to whatever lane is currently selected at the time. And while attacking creatures can shift lanes as they approach, the defending units won’t automatically do the same. Between these elements – as well as the active resource-gathering – players have to stay on their toes in order to keep up with the game.

There’s a fairly deep story here, about how an alliance of heroic races unite against sinister supernatural forces that are trying to wipe them off the planet. The plot is furthered with a lot of text between levels, and it’s a pretty decent bit of storytelling, overall. That said, for some reason the game’s designers decided to add an extra “Y” onto the end of some of the race names. As a result, the story feels silly at times when the desperate struggle of the “Knightys” and “Elfys” is being discussed.

The game’s designers really did a bang-up job when it came to style execution. The world of Legendary Wars is lovely; its goofy, cel-shaded style works wonderfully, probably better than it would have had it had been decorated with standard epic fantasy graphics. The music is also great, feeling suitable to both the action and the art, but there’s no option to play songs from one’s iPod library.

Legendary Wars is an excellent addition to the defense genre because it manages to do so many thing so very well. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s a blast and will likely keep anyone who plays it addicted for quite a while.