Think of what a tower defense game means these days – a top down view of a field of play, where AI controlled agents enter from one or more known directions, seeking to damage your critical resource so much that you fail. The way you counter this is by spending a renewable resource to strategically place specialized buildings that will neutralize certain types of these AI agents before they can damage the critical resource. Neutralizing an agent results in a gain of renewable resource, and the cycle starts anew.
Sound like a tower defense game? Yup. However, it could also be describing…
There’s a hundred different things you could say against this – the RST origins of tower defense, the Japanese market’s support of the economic management genre, the fluctuating tastes of the games market in general – but I believe that the Tower Defense market has stagnated, and it could very well stand to learn some things from its 90’s era ancestors in terms of depth and strategy.
Part of this may be due to my desperate hankering for games of this type – Theme Hospital has been taking up most of my weekend, and things like Receteer and Rune Factory have left me cold and disappointed. Maybe it’s time that the old ‘forgotten’ genre of tycoon games, and the shallow, but prevalent, tower defense genre got together and learnt something from each other.
(Oh, and for a chuckle – if you open the old Theme Hosptial manual and read the introductory story, it seems to me that it had a delightfully absurdist horror aspect to it, too. :))