Viking Invasion Review for Nintendo DSi

Viking Invasion Review for Nintendo DSi

By Odin’s Beard

For anyone like myself who got a DSi the day it came out, you know that good DSiWare has been slow to materialize. Early on we were even inundated with a variety of themed clocks and calculators rather than new games. However, over the past few months DSiWare has begun to improve dramatically, with a new game or two becoming available for download every week. This week’s release marks the first tower defense title on DSiWare, and despite its eight hundred point price tag, Viking Invasion is well worth a download.

Viking Invasion screenshot

The game’s story takes place in the year 840 in Norway and revolves around Olaf, the leader of an incredibly inept faction of Vikings. Olaf’s wife Olga is angry at Olaf because he hasn’t been accomplishing very much and starts deriding Olaf until he agrees to go on a pillaging and plundering spree. Before every level in the game, you’re treated to a brief dialogue segment between Olaf and his followers that are often humorous, although they will likely be more appealing to younger players. The choice to tell the story from the perspective of the Vikings seems like an odd decision, since you are actually fighting against them, but it works and is probably more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

If you’ve never played a tower defense game before, the concept is pretty basic. Players need to strategically place turrets on a map so that they are able to take down waves of invading foes before they reach their goal. This concept makes even more sense in the context of Viking Invasion, as the Vikings are always attacking from the water and are thereby forced to follow the path of the rivers.

The campaign starts off fairly simplistically, easing the player into the experience. Here you’ll have access to only two basic types of towers, one with a larger range that fires arrows and one that fires more damaging cannon balls but needs to be placed closer to the water to be able to hit enemies. These turrets can be placed anywhere on the map as long as there’s an empty hexagon in which to build it. Taking out enemies is fairly easy in the early levels because the maps are kind of claustrophobic and your foes are rather weak. This is great for newcomers to the tower defense genre, but, luckily, there’s still a challenge to be had for more experienced players as well.

Viking Invasion screenshot

With each level the enemies you face will get increasingly more difficult to take out. Instead of just basic Viking drakkars (boats) and a few falcons, you’ll be facing off against dragons, sea serpents, and all manner of supernatural/mythological creatures. Each enemy has its own sets of weaknesses that can be exploited to make them easier to defeat. Before each wave begins, the game will display what types and how many enemies will be attacking and you can tap on them to see what their individual strengths and weaknesses are to determine what types of towers would be more useful to build. There are even some boss enemies that will actually aid you in your defenses if you manage to take them out as well.

Taking out a boss enemy will earn you a gem, which can be used to purchase the ability to build new types of turrets or for adding improvements to the ones you can already construct. There are six turrets in total including the archers, cannons, machine guns (cannon ball variety), sorcerers, monoliths, and windmills. Each turret type also includes two upgrades that can be purchased that can help with things like damage, range, type of damage, etc. This adds a good amount of variety and strategy, since you can use different types of turrets together in order to make them more effective. A couple examples of this include using a windmill to slow down enemies so that cannons can do more damage to them and having monoliths near any other type of turret can boost its range, damage, and how much money is earned from it.

Viking Invasion screenshot

With each kill, a turret earns experience and the player gets gold to spend on more turrets or improvements. Whenever you have enough money in hand and a turret has enough experience, it’ll begin to flash, indicating that it can be upgraded. This is a nice touch that helps the player know at a glance what their options are. Still, even with this indicator it can be hard to make time in the heat of a fast-paced battle to upgrade your turrets. Luckily, the game does a few things to help you out in this regard.

Moving about the map is incredibly easy, using the D-pad to scroll the map and the stylus to tap turrets, empty hexagons, enemies, and to navigate menus. There’s also a map being displayed at all times on the top screen so that you will always know where you currently are, where your turrets are placed, and where the enemies are coming from. Still, if you find that the enemy is moving too quickly for you to get set up, the game allows you to pause the action by tapping an on-screen button. This is incredibly useful, letting you pause before or even during a conflict in order to upgrade your turrets or build new ones, since you’ll know which path your enemies are going to take.

Viking Invasion screenshot

My only big complaint about Viking Invasion is that there are only ten levels. Sure, some of these levels can take awhile to get through, especially if you lose a few times, but it could have benefitted from having a few more. There is a survival mode, which is pretty similar to the campaign although there is no story and no definite end to the action. In this mode, you’ll choose a map and then be tasked with defeating never-ending waves that get larger and more difficult to destroy with each new wave. Trying to survive through more waves in this mode is fun, functioning as a high score, but perhaps not as much as playing through the campaign. Still, both modes can be played on three different difficulty levels as well, so if you’re looking for more gameplay, you can always run through the campaign on a higher difficulty.

Viking Invasion is a very solid title on the DSi. The touch screen interface for building turrets and buying upgrades works incredibly well and just feels right. Being able to pause the action is a great addition that not only allows you to better keep up with your foes, but it also lets you put more thought into turret placement and strategy. While the campaign is a little short, the survival mode and different difficulty levels help to add some replayability to the title. So if you like the tower defense genre or are just looking for an enjoyable DSiWare game, Viking Invasion is definitely worth checking out.

Nothing here will blow you away but everything looks decent, although it can be difficult to see the projectiles coming from your turrets at times. 4.3 Control
Using the D-pad to move the camera and the stylus for everything else works incredibly well, with very few instances of tapping the wrong thing to be had. 3.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The repetitious music and sound effects can eventually get a little annoying, but the blasting of a Viking horn to signify every incoming wave is a nice touch. 3.7

Play Value
The survival mode adds more play time to the title, although it would have been nice if the campaign would have had more than just ten levels.

3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Thwart all your assailants’ ruses and unlock new kinds of buildings: tornado-blowing windmills to repel the ships, monoliths that strengthen your fortifications or cannons that shoot studded shells.
  • Discover more than 10 levels, tons of units, a Campaign mode, a Survival mode, and three difficulty levels.
  • In the survival mode, the more you defend yourself, the more ferocious they’ll become.

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