Just like its DSiWare predecessor, Viking Invasion 2 - Tower Defense is a, yep, tower defense game that has you taking on the role of protector. As hordes of enemies draw near the castle that you’ve been gracious enough to defend, you must build towers to attack the oncoming assault. It’s a pretty standard affair for the genre, but it’s still a fun romp for fans of these kind of games.
Like many tower defense games, each stage is displayed as a flat map with a path cut through it on which enemies travel. Along the sides of this path is a hexagonal grid where you can place different types of units to attack your enemies and defend your castle, which is located at the end of the path. Allowing enemies to reach the end of this path will damage the castle that you are defending, and once the castle is destroyed you’ll have to start the level over again; there are 12 levels to play through, each with different maps, but all sticking to the same formula. There is also a plot involving your character being scolded by your Viking wife about how you don’t pillage enough, but this all feels secondary and is clearly just a device used to string the separate levels together.
There are a variety of enemies that you must defend your castle against, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Strategically choosing which types of towers to build based on the enemies that approach is essential to staying alive, and upgrading the towers that you already have is just as important. Completing levels and killing certain baddies will earn you runes that can then be used to upgrade different attributes of your towers, such as allowing you to equip flaming arrows or exploding shells to your otherwise standard defensive units. These upgrades again add an additional layer to the elements of strategy needed to win.
Though 12 levels may seem like a short campaign, especially considering the curious absence of the additional Survival Mode from the previous Viking Invasion, each level can be replayed as many times as you’d like, and there are three difficulty levels to choose from. As is usually the case with games of this type, this one is all about replayability, and finding the best defense for any given level. Then there’s also the issue of the difficulty curve that’s sure to extend the amount of time you’ll pour into this one; while the difficulty does steadily increase, after about the midway point the stages become ludicrously difficult. They can still all be beaten, but it’s going to take your best management skills to get past some of the later maps.
Viking Invasion 2 is controlled entirely using the 3DS’s D-Pad or Circle Pad and the touchscreen. The D-Pad is used to navigate around the map while everything else is done with a simple tap of the bottom screen. From building towers to upgrading your attacks, you can do it all with nothing more than your stylus; the controls are very simple and they work great for this type of gameplay.
As most of the action takes place on the 3DS’s bottom screen, with the top screen reserved for a full view of the level’s map and statistical information such as your gold and health, the actual 3D effect essentially goes to waste. The level map is layered in 3D, but you’ll be paying much more attention to the bottom screen as you frantically place, upgrade, and repair your towers. Beyond that though, the environments are well drawn and have a cartoony look that matches the light-hearted tone of the game. The soundtrack also does well to fit the game and, while lacking in variety, does not feel repetitive in the slightest.
Viking Invasion 2 is a capable tower defense game that doesn’t do much to improve on an unbroken formula; with an intense difficulty curve and emphasis on replayability, you’re sure to get plenty of hours out of this purchase. While it may not have enough to draw strangers to the genre in, fans of games like this will definitely find something to enjoy here.