Defender II’s Android-exclusive castle defending sees strong success

Defender II is an Android-exclusive game from DroidHen, a company highlighted by Google as a top app developer on Google Play. The game showed up as the No. 7 top grossing app in our roundup of the top grossing Android apps last week and has been downloaded more than a million times in the month since its launch.

Note: This game was reviewed on a Motorola Xoom tablet running Android 3.2. No major compatibility issues were encountered, though the screen did very occasionally “flicker” for a moment in the menu screens.

Defender II calls itself a “tower defense” game but actually has more in common with shoot ’em ups than the more strategic tower defense format. Tasked with overseeing the defense of a castle on the left side of the screen, players must fend off waves of enemies charging in from the right using a combination of their crossbow, magic spells and, later, defensive structures built directly onto the castle walls. Tapping the screen fires the crossbow while dragging spell icons from the interface onto the screen launches their destructive potential. Casting spells costs mana, which regenerates over time or may be immediately topped up with the expenditure of gems, one of the game’s two currencies.

Successfully defeating a wave of enemies rewards the player with a relatively large quantity of gold, a small number of gems and some experience points. Gaining enough experience to level up unlocks access to more effective weaponry, while gold and gems are used to acquire and upgrade various special abilities, with the more effective upgrades usually requiring the expenditure of the much rarer gems. Sales of these two currencies form the basis of the game’s monetization — they also disable the AdMob-powered advertisements which are visible to free players.

There are two main modes of play in the game: Local and Battle. Local play tasks players with working their way through a linear series of levels and gradually upgrading their abilities as they go. Battle pits two players against one another via the Internet, with whoever survives the longest being declared the winner. The waves of enemies in Battle mode come much more quickly, ensuring that matches are over relatively quickly but remain fair and balanced. Local play, meanwhile, has a much more gradual difficulty curve, introducing new enemy types one by one.

Players have a single “profile” which keeps progression consistent between both online and offline play. This allows players to build up their strength and pool of abilities by playing offline before taking their defenses online to challenge others. The game uses its own proprietary network and does not include any social features or connectivity with gaming networks such as OpenFeint — as such, players are limited to competing against random opponents and have no means of playing with friends. The game also incorporates its own internal achievements system, but these are used to unlock various special abilities rather than provide a means of bragging about accomplishments to others.

Defender II is a good quality, simple and addictive game that provides a generous amount of content for free, with quicker progression on offer to those willing to pay. Given the game’s high ranking in the top grossing Android charts recently, it’s clear that people are embracing the opportunity to purchase currency packages in order to upgrade their castle’s defensive capabilities. The game’s predecessor Defender has enjoyed over 5 million downloads to date, and this newer game looks set to see similar success over its lifetime.

Defender II is available now via Google Play. Google reports the game has been downloaded between 1 and 5 million times to date.