Digital Chocolate launched its NanoLaunch of Siegeerse characters concept with the release of two games at the end of last week, NanoStar Castles and NanoStar Siege. Users can buy characters in the form of collectible virtual. Each character can be used in different games, where they’ll have distinct abilities
The first title, NanoStar Castles, turned out to be a very well balanced and tactical card game. We went into the NanoStar Siege’s review with high expectations.
If one could compare Siege to any type of game, it would be most closely released to a tower defense title. The objective is to deploy an army of footmen, archers, and “slayers” (archetypical barbarians, it looks like) to defeat an enemy castle. Once deployed, the units will march towards the top of the screen, automatically fighting along the way. However, this is where the tower defense similarities end.
To defeat the enemy, you have to reach their castle and attack it, dropping their morale to zero. However, what makes Siege more interesting is that unit deployment is done via small grid sections of the map. This map is actually, seven invisible grid spaces wide, and when you deploy units at the start of a battle, they will proceed directly from that point to the enemy castle without deviation. What this means, is Siege effectively has the tactical element of flanking (as you can see where enemy defenses are before you begin). You can very literally plan to go around areas with defenses that are too strong. Of course, if you have no units in the way, then that also means the enemy has a clear shot to your castle, so use flanking wisely.
This is where the next level of strategy comes into play: NanoStars characters, from the NanoVerse cards. As with Castles, each NanoStar has its own unique ability that can be employed, actively, by the player during play. There are 151 heroes that can be collected (if that sounds familiar, yes, when we spoke to Trip Hawkins he described NanoStars as “Pokemon for adults”), with each one granting offensive, defensive, or support type abilities.
Just like in Castles, the heroes come with a familiar play on words translated from modern vocabulary to what it might be in a medieval setting. For example, the NanoStar “Shizzledog” becomes an offensive hellhound that can decimate an entire row of enemies, while “Spam” is a support hero that increases the number of units you can deploy when free reinforcements become available.
This becomes another key element to strategy in Siege. As the battle goes on, a meter on the right-hand side of the screen charges. As it does so, different new abilities light up with increasing value: Free Unit, Free Platoon, Free Company, and Regroup Heroes. The first three are fairly self-explanatory, granting increasing numbers of free reinforcements. The last one, however, is the ability to recall all of your hero cards to the playing field. As a balancing mechanism, since they are very powerful, a user can only play a hero card once, but if they wait until the Regroup ability becomes available, then they get a second go around. Obviously, this can become very high risk. Should you receive more units, for example, or wait to try to regroup?
With each battle, players also get more experience and gold. Offensively, (when raiding an enemy castle), the former allows the user to hold more heroes in their hand during a single battle, while the latter allows them to deploy more units at the start of one. However, defensively, things are slightly different.
Yes, you can be attacked. This is a sort of asynchronous multiplayer element. Essentially, players can go into their castle and set up a defensive grid of units, heroes, and defensive structures. The higher level the player, the more hero units they can deploy within three defensive locations consisting of, essentially, the front lines, the main force, and the last stand. The AI will then use whatever heroes you place in these locations at the time the enemy is there. Furthermore, the higher level you are, and the more gold you have, the more units you can place on the field that will automatically defend against raiders.
Frankly, the defense system is actually one of the cooler parts of the game. Unlike other asynchronous titles, and even Castles, you aren’t just fighting against a deck of cards used by the computer on its terms. On the contrary, the player is setting up their terms, so while it’s not quite the same as fighting against them in a live match, it is still fairly close.
That said, there are a few shortcomings to NanoStar siege. They are nothing terribly devastating, but just some features we wish it had. For one, the heroes are fantastic, but the base units are so boring by comparison. Perhaps more will unlock at later levels, but as it stands, there are only three types – the footmen, archers, and slayers. This puts most of the strategic weight on the heroes and really undersells the base units.
In addition to this, the visuals within the actually battle are a bit, underwhelming. They don’t look “bad,” per say, but they do look a bit like they just came off of the Super Nintendo. Thankfully, graphics hardly make a game notable in this day and age — social gamers don’t play because they like the graphics quality — and since Siege is fun, we’re especially forgiving.
Overall, NanoStar Siege feels a bit stronger than NanoStar Castles. Likely, this is just a difference in tastes. Siege is a little faster paced and requires users to think a bit more on their feet, while Castles is strictly turn-based and allows them time to plan out each move and strategy. Conversely, the asynchronous play for Siege also feels a bit stronger, and while Castles does have synchronous play, it is the asynchronous that tends to be the preference for most Facebook users. That said, it will be most interesting to see which one of the two titles does better.