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Defenders of the Mystic Garden

For:   Also on: PSPPS Vita
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In need of some weeding

Product: Defenders of the Mystic Garden | Publisher: Twisted Dragon Media | Format: PSP | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Defenders of the Mystic Garden PSP, thumbnail 1
There's a real rift in the tower defence genre. On one side are those releases that take the basic idea and attempt to fashion something fresh from the concept. On the other there are those that simply splash a theme over the top and call it a day.

Defenders of the Mystic Garden definitely belongs to the latter clan, with creepy crawlies and fauna setting up gameplay that's far too familiar for its own good.

If you've played every example that the tower defence genre has to offer, this PSP Minis title - also available to download for PS Vita - will no doubt rub you up the wrong way with its poor and dull design decisions.

Your ant's on the phone

There's a path, and along it a variety of garden wildlife roam, looking to eat your juicy fruit.

You have special units that you can place down in the path to halt the enemies' progress, such as the Warrior (with his big hammer) or the Ice Mage (who slows the baddies down).

Mystic Garden throws a curveball by limiting how many units you can put down at any one time. This forces you to move units to different parts of the path mid-attack, so that they can attack the oncoming stampede multiple times in one wave.

This unit limit makes you think more deliberately about where you're placing your troops and where you're going to make them run once the ball starts rolling.

Tell her I'm not here

But this is one pro is a sea of cons.

The visuals are very odd, with 3D environments and 2D enemies. The enemies looks awful, and some of them don't even have directional animations, meaning they simply weave around the path looking the same way.

Your heroes talk, but you'll wish they wouldn't - the voice-acting is terrible.

Your guys will sometimes ignore an enemy who's about to reach the end and attack others instead - priorities are completely broken.

The button details are splashed across the bottom of the screen carelessly, and the whole game just looks messy. All the levels are unlocked from the beginning, so it feels like there's no sense of progression at all.

We could go on, but the bottom line is this: Defenders of the Mystic Garden adds very little to the genre, and actually messes up some of the elements that have been honed by other games over the last decade.

That's not to say it messes all of them up. Despite these missteps the game's tower defence gameplay is fundamentally solid. It's just dragged down by poor presentation, some poor design, and a crushing lack of innovation.
Defenders of the Mystic Garden
Reviewer photo
Mike Rose | 24 April 2012
Defenders of the Mystic Garden is a by-the-numbers tower defence game that forgot how to count
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