The Ancient Tree has produced fruit for the first time in centuries, so a great celebration is held in the kingdom, including a delicious cake gigantic enough to feed the entire populace! The scent of the ancient fruit, however, is so potent that it travels far afield and awakens the King of the Krinkles, creatures that were considered just legends…until now. Now awake and hungry, the Krinkle king dispatches his army to get that cake! Thus begins Krinkle Krusher
, a new castle defense title from Ilusis Interactive.
The only thing standing between the ravenous Krinkles and the kingdom is a mage and his trusty magic glove, Mitty. In truth, the mage simply runs back and forth on the wall and spouts lame references to Gandalf while the glove does all of the work. Unsurprisingly, it’s the glove that the player controls. Gameplay begins with small Krinkles running towards the castle. As the Krinkles head toward the castle, the mage gives Mitty a magic ring that fires lightning and it’s Mitty’s job (aka the player’s job) to stop the Krinkles before they reach the wall. One may lay a spell on the ground as a trap or to strike the enemy immediately, whichever is called for in the moment. The problem is that the ring’s charge is limited. If used too often, the ring will break, leaving the wall a sitting duck until enough time passes for the ring to heal itself. Thus, the main strategy of the game is learning to time one’s traps in such a way that the wall isn’t left defenseless.
As the game proceeds, one acquires more rings with a total of five eventually available: lightning, fire, tornado, mud, and ice. Gems may be earned to level up the rings, but the leveling up process is uneven, unbalanced in a way that makes the game alternately too hard and too easy. One gem is available for earning three stars in each level of the game, yet it takes ten gems to first access the mage’s room where upgrades take place. Since these gems are lost by opening the door to the room, the first magic upgrade can’t be made until eleven levels have been three-starred. By this point, the Krinkle action has become much more hurried and frantic and it’s akin to being thrown into deep water to sink or swim. Except for the very first level, which provides the initial tutorial, the game has no beginner levels. Gamers should be prepared to jump into the fire with both feet right off the bat.
Watch those Krinkles run!
By the fifth level, the gameplay is surprisingly difficult even with two rings, something that is very off-putting so early in the game. Equally irritating is that a flawless run does not guarantee three stars for the level. “Flawless” is earned when the wall isn’t hit a single time, but earning three stars is dependent solely on score, which itself is dependent on the multiplier (built up with kills). Once access to the mage’s room is gained and magic upgrades are available, there’s a better balance between difficulty and ability and the game becomes more enjoyable. This feeling ends rather quickly, though, when the second area begins and the difficulty ramps up very steeply again. It’s almost a see-saw between the game being too hard and the player being too over-powered. Better balance in this progression is needed.
One very nice feature that the game does employ is that the allocation of gems is not permanent. One can concentrate gems on a particular power then switch those gems to other rings as needed, something which is quite helpful. Gems can be used to strengthen the wall, as well, especially if there is a level that’s causing problems. Night time levels can be especially problematic. At night, different moons travel across the sky – moons that correspond to the rings. If a fire moon is going by, for instance, the fire ring doesn’t work for a brief time. When a moon exists for each of the five rings, it can be easier to max out the wall to simply get through the level and come back later when one is stronger.
Upgrade the Rings
Items are gradually added to the mix – food carts to distract the enemies, hearts to heal the wall, etc. – as well as a very powerful full-screen lightning attack. All of these contribute to making the game much easier as one continues and this makes the mopping up of missed flawless runs easier to do. None of this, however, prevents a feeling of sameness and monotony that sets in very early despite the variety of weapons and Krinkles. Even the game's appearance doesn't change this. The artwork is colorful and cartoonish, reminiscent of a kiddy game. Krinkles, big and small, all share one feature – a head that is all mouth. It's slightly reminiscent of The Maw
but without the charm.
Most of the achievements are picked up as a natural part of playing through the game. There isn't a lot of grinding although players will have to re-visit levels to pick up missed gems and flawless awards. Considering that the game can be completed in four to five hours, this is a quick completion, but the brevity and lack of replayability make its $9.99 cost seem a bit pricey.
As a fan of the tower defense genre, there were high hopes for Krinkle Krusher
, but the game was found lacking. Between the unimaginative gameplay, the stale humor, and the need to repeat levels so often to get the three stars, the title quickly becomes monotonous to the point of being annoying. Considering the repetitive nature of the game and the the game's relatively short length, its $9.99 price tag seems a bit high. The achievements aren't unreasonably tough, but unless you're in dire need of quick gamerscore (or you just love zapping little critters who are all mouth), you might want to wait until this one goes on sale before you pick it up.
- Skill gems can be re-assigned
- Improves as one progresses
- Quick gamerscore
- Short for the price
- Low replayability
The reviewer spent five hours krushing Krinkles and earning all 13 of the game's achievements. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.