Fieldrunners is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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Fieldrunners Review

Fieldrunners is the newest kid on the block in the ever-expanding “tower defense” genre on the App Store. Each of these games has its own gameplay balance and aesthetic to distinguish it from its cousins; Fieldrunners is one of the most stylish renditions that you will find on the iPhone or any other platform. Its feature set is basic, but balanced enough to provide hours of entertainment.

As in other tower defense games, your objective in Fieldrunners is to place different kinds of ‘towers’ in patterns designed to destroy a wave of enemies before they can cross from one side of the screen to the other. You have four towers at your disposal–a “Gatling” tower, a “Goo” tower, a “Missile” tower and a “Tesla” tower. The gun tower is your inexpensive workhorse,and the missile is your long range killer. The slime tower slows down enemies and the electricity tower delivers a very powerful shock at close range. Each tower can be upgraded twice. This rudimentary selection is kind of disappointing, but at least each tower type satisfies a specific need.

Meanwhile, the enemies come in a few different flavors, but they’re really only distinguished by their speed, toughness and ability to fly. There’s no rock-paper-scissors dynamic that forces you to match specific towers to specific enemy types. We’re not saying that the game isn’t challenging, though: the easiest difficulty level in Fieldrunners is quick to master, but the hardest requires serious planning. A single game can last as long as an hour; fortunately, the game remembers exactly where you were when you reboot it after quitting or closing. Enthusiasts can play for higher scores, but you can’t tweak settings such as board shape, or select an alternate game mode. Fieldrunners’ touch controls work well: you simply drag towers onto the board to place them, and touch to upgrade or demolish them. It’s easy to zoom in and out and pan around to survey the entire field, or to focus on a single point of interest.

The real draw in Fieldrunners is its graphics, which ooze personality and style. The game’s enemies and towers are based on military and architectural tropes from the first half of the twentieth century–mainly the two World Wars, with a little Art Deco thrown in. These detailed, hand-drawn caricatures have real comic appeal. Plus, the animation remains smooth and consistent, even when the screen fills up with baddies. In comparison with the game’s awesome graphics, the complete lack of sound is a major letdown.

Overall, Fieldrunners is a beautiful and satisfying game. It is balanced enough to challenge without frustrating, and although it lacks some features found in other tower defense games, the gameplay is well-executed and has no glaring holes. You shouldn’t expect the game to hold your attention for weeks on end, but you will certainly get your $4.99 worth. A bit more depth and the inclusion of sound would really make the game into a Must Have.

More stories on Fieldrunners

Fieldrunners #9 in TIME Mag’s Top 10 Games of 2008

As the Letterman of print media, Time Magazine loves to select yearly Top 10 lists for everything from “Olympic Moments” to “Financial Crisis Collapses”–and video games are no exception. But in one more indication that the iPhone is being taken seriously as a games platform, Time’s Lev Grossman put Fieldrunners in the #9 slot of his Top 10 Video Games, right between a Flash game called Hunted Forever and Spore.

We don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Grossman; while we like Fieldrunners quite a bit, we don’t even think it’s the best iPhone Tower Defense game right now. But it is certainly one of the most popular iPhone games, and it’s maintained a 4.5 star user rating over the course of almost 3000 reviews, so Time could have made far worse picks for its list. We’re just happy to see the iPhone represented at all!

[from Time Magazine via Kotaku]

    Developer Q&A: Jamie Gotch, Subatomic Games

    We recently asked Jamie Gotch, one of the principals at Subatomic Games, some questions about his company and its first game, Fieldrunners. Here’s what he had to say. Thanks Jamie!

    1) What’s your background in terms of game design? Is Fieldrunners the first game you (and/or Subatomic) have made?

    Our team shares a strong passion and love for games. Although this is the first title that the Subatomic Studios team has released, we are made up of several industry professionals with many years of experience. We strongly believe that as game designers, we make the games that we would love to play ourselves. We trust that by giving our best and enjoying the process, others will also enjoy the games that we make.

    2) Fieldrunners has a pretty unique look. What’s the artistic inspiration for the game? How about the gameplay inspiration?

    We wanted to make a game with a broad appeal, both in terms of artistic direction and gameplay. For the look, we wanted to have stylized, iconic forms and strong, varied silhouettes so it could be easily recognized at a glance. We felt that this was very important for an action-based strategy game viewed from a bird’s eye view on a handheld device. Additionally, we wanted to have something that people can relate to by incorporating a slight military touch, but we also wanted to keep the style unique enough so that it could stand alone on its own merits. For that, we looked at World War I and World War II uniforms for the units, and some futuristic Art Deco influence for the towers. We also wanted the towers to appear more threatening than the units, to emphasize the amount of power lying in the player’s hands.

    To further set the two sides apart, we wanted a clear icon that would represent the enemy’s faction. We decided that a target symbol best suits this need as it is very iconic, reads well from afar, and conveys the underlying goal of the game.

    As far as gameplay inspiration, we looked everywhere for it. We are still being inspired by traditional Tower Defense games, and we are all huge fans of RTS games. Our ultimate goal was to make something easy-to-learn, but hard-to-master. Beating a map on the hard difficulty level does not instantly mean you have mastered that map. The game rewards efficiency by giving a higher score to those players that build the most efficient maze with as little tower sales as possible.

    We have some aces up our sleeves, and we believe that there’s still quite a lot of fun to be had with the coming updates. We trust that if we work hard to create something we love to play and have tons of fun with, so will everyone else!

    3) What’s your favorite game on the iPhone right now (other than yours)?

    Aurora Feint: The Beginning.

    4) Are you working on any new projects you’d like to discuss?

    Although there are many interesting prospects we are considering for the future, currently all of our time is being devoted to bringing new content and features to Fieldrunners. Our goal is to make Fieldrunners truly shine!