I’m a bit of a nut for tower defense games. Desktop Tower Defense is still one of my favorite games of recent memory, Fieldrunners is still a great game, and who could ever forget Plants vs Zombies? Not this guy. Years on, and it’s still in heavy rotation during bathroom gaming. At PAX East this year, there were a few games in the genre being shown at various booths.
None, however, captured my time like Go Home Dinosaurs! Mostly because it’s a barbecue defense game.
As I sat down to play my demo, seated next to me was a 6-yr old who was actively demolishing dinosaurs. One peak at his screen showed that he was playing level 2 of the game. I cracked my knuckles and got to work.
The game stars gophers/groundhogs/rodents who must protect their barbecue grill from an onslaught of dinosaurs. My first task was to harvest coconuts from the trees that would randomly pop up. A couple of trees harvested meant that I could afford a gunner to take down some of the slower moving triceratops early on in their stampede. The gophers/groundhogs/rodents are set on specific-shaped pieces that must be fit in open spots on the board. It’s kind of like a giant Tetris board, with each piece offering a different attack method. The pieces can be rotated and fit for different strategies, but the larger and more powerful pieces equal out to more cost.
Initially, the dinosaurs were slow enough that I could grab coconuts fairly quickly, albeit somewhat avoiding the stampede in the process. The trick is to balance the harvesting and unit placement, all while learning to manage the game’s adaptable difficulty level. It adjusts its difficulty as we play, making sure that we’re always at a challenge. Eventually, the stampede started to speed up, and a greater variety of dinosaurs began to make appearances. Quick, small green ones zipped along. Giant T-Rexes lumbered about. The Triceratops (sorry, “Torosaurus” now) returned as well. I enjoyed clobbering every one of them.
I stopped to take a look at the kid next to me, since he had let out an audible scream of joy when explosions began to drop on his screen. The visuals are extremely cute and appealing, with cartoon-like characters and a brightly-colored game board. He was enjoying the images from a child’s perspective, I was enjoying them from a Pixar fan’s perspective. There were enough touches (weapons, voices, animations, and character design) that make this attractive to both kids and adults.
After the first area was complete, the game allowed me to use the money that I had acquired to purchase stronger weapons for the game board. I only saw a couple of the pieces, so the exact number is still a mystery. I was ready for the next zone, when I received a tap on my shoulder. “Sir, there’s a line of people waiting to play, and you’ve been here for a while already.”
Then it struck me: in the time that the boy had completed 3 or 4 levels, I had only finished the first. I spent way too much time trying to resolve every little challenge and had gotten sucked in that I didn’t even make it far enough to match what wonderkid was doing. The game can be played as quick and reckless or as methodical as desired. I only saw a slight portion of the game, and hardly picked up on any of the other challenges or features that were available to me, but it was a solid enough mechanic that a good, fun experience could be expected.
For Fire Hose Games, fun and straightforward is to be expected. Slam Bolt Scrappers, their PSN release, was fantastically fun. Hopefully, Go Home Dinosaurs! will live up to that level. The release date is TBD, and the game is currently scheduled for Chrome Web Store. But, oh God would I love to see this on a tablet. I need my barbecue to be available all the time.