Fieldrunners (DSiWare)

Game Review

Fieldrunners Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Run to the hills

There once was a time when the tower defence genre was so niche that, shock and awe, there weren’t these types of games released somewhere every week. In case you haven’t overindulged on the genre, Subatomic Studios’ Fieldrunners would like your attention, please. No, don’t leave, it’s good!

Originally released on Apple’s App Store back in October 2008, it was (and remains) one of the best in its genre with its strategic depth across five maps, six tower units and a whole lot of defending. It’s up to you to plot out the gauntlet your attackers will run and what towers would fit best in any given position for maximum impact. This creativity is a welcome change from having a set path that enemies funnel through, since your level designs can be as simple or as devious as you’d like, and it’s always nice to be able to change your strategy on-the-fly. Micro-managers will get a kick out of plotting the perfect path of destruction and it’s easy to lose yourself in the battle, wondering where that last hour went.

Each map in Classic mode allows use of four pre-determined, upgradeable tower units, ranging from your standard machine gun turrets to rockets to electric Tesla towers. Building a unit costs money, and you earn money by downing enemies, presumably extracting it from their fallen corpses. Maps last 100 rounds (or waves), but to unlock the next map you need only reach round 50. Failing a map means you let 20 enemies slip by your defenses, but once you get the hang of designing death traps this shouldn’t happen too much. Conquering round 100 unlocks Extended and Endless modes, which both give you access to all six turret types in the map, with the former limited to 100 rounds and the latter exactly as advertised.

When you’re 75 rounds deep the Fast Forward function unlocks for that map, but we wish it would’ve come sooner; up until round 30 or so you’re actively building your defences but eventually you’ll get to a point where they're strong enough to hold off the next dozen waves. At that point, the game basically plays itself with you acting as overseer, upgrading a turret here and there, maybe building a new corridor or so. We set the DSi down for a while and walked away, and upon returning ten waves later noticed that our defences didn’t let a single enemy combatant through. Once Fast Forward is unlocked for a map it’s accessible for each subsequent play from the beginning, but getting there in the first place can sometimes drag on.

Fieldrunners goes for the equivalent of 300 Points on the App Store but DSiWare patrons are expected to pay 500. The price hasn’t been hiked for the handheld; all five maps are included in the DSiWare release whereas the App Store edition includes three with two more available for 100 points each, so it’s all the same. What you aren’t getting is the OpenFeint online portion, which on the iDevices amounts to earning achievements, having a friends lists, leaderboards and such. Neither have online multiplayer, making the core content essentially the same across both platforms. It’s a shame you can’t compare your already-tracked high scores with friends or earn in-game achievements, the latter being especially boggling as to why it isn’t in since it requires no online infrastructure.

What is new for DSiWare is the list of the current and upcoming waves on the top screen, which is helpful in planning turret placement. Taking a hit in this version are the visuals that, thanks to the lower resolution of the DSi screens, lose a little sheen. Everything is clear and distinguishable so it doesn’t detract from gameplay, it’s just not quite as pretty. The audio presentation includes some nice battle anthems and satisfyingly chunky weapon and enemy sound effects but it all tends to get repetitive after a score of rounds.


Even with the online components removed, Fieldrunners is still very fun and addictive tower defence game and a welcome addition to the DSiWare library. There’s hours of fun to be had here, and even if you’re reaching the genre saturation point it's worth a look.

From the web

User Comments (20)



Morpheel said:

i may give it a try when i get more points, it looks fun
oh, and great review



sylkirian said:

Which is better, this game or Starship Defense? I already have Starship Defense, will give this game a try if it's just as good (or better).



3230ru said:

I will definately buy and try this. DS is just perfect for this genre.
edit:... so the time has come now)




Hmmm, I tend to be a bit fussy with the tower defence genre, but I think this IS for me. Come to EU soon please. Thanks for the revw!



HolyMackerel said:

@sylkirian I like Starship Defense better, but Fieldrunners is good too. Fieldrunners plays the tower defense subgenre straight (standard enemy types and towers, place towers to path enemies, gets a bit repetitive after 50 or so rounds). It's essentially a clone of Desktop Tower Defense with nice graphics. Starship Defense has more variety in strategy and levels, is more polished, and is more original overall.

That said, Fieldrunners is a very good game and well worth the 500 points, especially if you're hankering for some tower defense on the go. I'm pleased with my purchase and I expect to spend quite a few hours playing it since the game is quite challenging on higher difficulties.



grumblegrumble said:

I like Starship Defense much better than this, too. This just looks plain retarded, like every other "tower defense" game out there.



ACK said:

Classic Tower Defense at it's finest. I'll admit that I do slightly prefer the style, structure, and depth of Startship Defense, but with a considerable challenge, supreme balance, and loads of replayablity, this stands right alonside that gem as one of the best Tower Defense games on any platform.



EdEN said:

I have to No-S.O.S.-Perfect levels 29 and 30 in Starship Defense, and all in all it was a great experience for 500 points. Fieldrunners is more of a "classic" type of T-D game because of all the waves you have to endure. It's more akin to Crystal Defenders than to Starship Defense. Still a good buy since I love my T-D games... but try Viking Invasion instead of Fieldrunners first.



postmanX3 said:

I have it for my iPod, and it's one of the best Tower Defences I've every played. Great balance, so that it never feels unfairly tough, but never too ridiculously easy.

However, what worries me about the DSiWare release is that one of the reasons Fieldrunners succeeded on the App Store was because of its (free and otherwise) content updates. Knowing Nintendo's draconian standards on their downloadable services, I'm not sure something like that would ever be possible for DSiWare...



JonWahlgren said:

@postmanX3: This version is pretty much the same content as what's currently in the App Store. It's certainly a lot of stuff, but yeah, it's unfortunate that they might not bring any eventual new content to this platform. No "hooks" for it in-game, so this is it pretty much!



cjsk8r12 said:

I dont feel the need to get this because i already have starship defense and that is alot already 30 levels is crazy.



hulklol123456789 said:

In my opinion, much better than starship defense, maybe there are less levels, but you can spend 1 hour in each level or more, so BUY IT!!




cheapogamer4life said:

I heart Starship Defense, but I not sure I would like this title as im not really a fan of the genre. Nintendos DSiware shop could use a demo sevice right about..........Now.



JoshuaJSlone said:

I know this game is kind of old hat by now, but I wanted to toss in my two cents. At first, I wasn't a big fan. Seems pretty standard, gets dull without the fast forward like the review mentions, and after beating each stage I went on to the next. HOWEVER, it was when I started playing the Endless mode and trying to best my previous records that things really took off. I could keep trying stages over and over with permutations to my plan to try to last a few waves longer. I played a crazy amount, and finally reached my goal of passing 100 waves on Hard mode on each level. I thought I could be done with it, then... but having played some less satisfying tower defense games since, I find I'm back and trying all sorts of new stuff. What if I shape things a completely different way? How far can I get using just two tower types? I seriously have to have put over a hundred hours into this by now. Highly recommended.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...