You gotta love Japan! Not only has a slew of memorable game characters and franchises come from the land of the rising sun, but some of the most creative folks anywhere reside there. Just when we thought we’d seen every shade of tower defense action, we’re thankfully proven wrong. Taito’s Mikado Defenders has a decidedly unique approach to Tower Defense, but it begs the question, is this a good different?
Mikado Defenders is set in a war-torn Japan. With a civil war completely engulfing the land, you command courageous warriors that are fighting an evil and demonic force hell-bent on destroying everything. Nothing like swords and the supernatural to get the adrenaline going.
Behold, my tiny army!
Unlike many other tower defense games that primarily use structures, Mikado Defenders has you queuing up human units like samurais or archers to battle land and air opposition. Protecting your castle is the goal, and enemies come from several different directions on the map.
Killing off enemies garners gold, allowing you to invest in more combat units for subsequent waves. Also, knocking off enemies builds up a gauge that enables a ‘destroy all’ mechanic in the form of Guardian Spirits. More of a desperation measure when you’re close to being overrun, it’s a good safety valve to have in your back pocket.
One element that gives Mikado Defenders a very RTS-like feel is the inclusion of Commanders. Upon successfully beating boss characters, you earn access to commanders that boost your unit’s stats. So depending on what attributes you want to pump up, select the right leader accordingly. Leveling up your units in conjunction with being smart about your commanders is the ticket to victory.
We probably should’ve summoned the dragon sooner.
Mechanically, the game is solid all around. There’s a ton of depth here, particularly in the latter stages where the enemy opposition gets merciless. Unlike some other tower defense games, you can’t lazily play this game. If there’s one thing that prevents Mikado Defenders from achieving the gold standard of control, it’s the size of the graphical assets. There’s no room for error when selecting units or spawn points because everything is so close together. Over and over, the thought we kept having was that this game would breathe much easier on a larger screen, like, say, the iPad!
Finally, those of you who love the aesthetic and tone of feudal Japan will be right at home here. The hand-drawn art is spot-on, and the details put into all the presentation elements are obvious. Soldiers and units look minuscule, but the backgrounds and window dressing help make up for it.
Mikado Defenders won’t set the world ablaze with a gazillion bells and whistles, but it’s a thoroughly engaging and interesting game. With just Story and Survival modes available, some may not find enough reasons to keep coming back. But as a crew that has some Japanese sensibilities, we definitely recommend giving this baby a spin.