Updated: Mote-M Review

Grant Jones has updated his budget priced tower defense clone Mote-M to version 1.2. This is a rather significant update that makes the game an even better value than it was previously. For example, hotspots now appear on the battlefield, allowing you to build free towers, and additional types of support towers open up completely new strategic options.

The new sound effects are very quiet, and the visuals still leave much to be desired, but we are happy to see the developer is dedicated to improving his product. This is a great deal at 99 cents.

Mote-M (or Mote Massacre) is one of the App Store’s first entrants into the now-ubiquitous “Defense” genre. For those unfamiliar with this type of game, your objective is to place a variety of ‘towers’ in patterns designed to destroy a wave of enemies before they can cross from one side of the screen to the other. These games require you to choose the right ‘towers’ to match the strengths and weaknesses of the different waves of enemies that flood your defenses, while maximizing the value of their placement. Mote-M lacks some of the depth found in other Defense games, but it is well-executed and very friendly to novices.

As in other Defense games, each of Mote-M’s levels consists of a stream (or wave) of migrating enemies. At the beginning of each game, you can choose to orient this stream from top to bottom, diagonally, or horizontally. You earn money to place or upgrade towers by wiping the baddies out, but if an enemy makes it to its goal, you lose some of your health. The further you get, the more bad guys you have to cope with, and the more cash you earn for each enemy you kill; most players will have a good challenge on the easiest difficulty setting, but there are higher difficulty levels for more experienced players.

The game offers six basic types of tower: “fire”, “frost”, “physical”, “timed”, “restoration”, and “deception”. The first three are attack towers that automatically shoot projectiles at enemies that pass within range; you can pay to upgrade these towers and increase their range and damage. The enemies have special abilities that form a rock-paper-scissors relationship with your towers–for instance, blue enemies are resistant to frost, red to fire, and so forth. There are also flying enemies that can fly right over your towers, instead of having to weave around them the long way.

The other three towers produce special support effects. “Timed” towers can be used to form temporary barriers that stay on the board for five to ten seconds, and then disappear. The very expensive “restoration” towers restore your health. “Deception” towers convince a single enemy that the tower is the goal, allowing you to temporarily direct it off course. We appreciate the addition of these new tower types, but only the “deception” tower is very useful: the “timed” towers are not that much cheaper than a basic physical attack tower, and the money spent on a “restoration” tower is probably better spent on upgrades. The “deception” tower, meanwhile, is relatively inexpensive, and can buy you precious time to finish off the last few motes in a wave.

Mote-M is definitely a budget game, so Defense veterans will find the game is missing certain features that they are used to. For instance, the towers do not explicitly denote their range of fire, although it is quickly apparent from watching them. We also missed having a nice variety of enemies to plan around; there are really only two kinds, the bacteria-like “motes,” and “fliers,” which look like gliding birds. The motes are different colors to denote their resistance to one type of tower or another, but this does not change their behavior at all. The bosses and enemies with exotic abilities found in most other Defense games are missing here. We hope the developer adds some additional enemy types to the game in an update.

M-Mote’s presentation is very utilitarian. Each basic tower type is represented by a box marked with a colored dot; upgraded towers simply get more dots on them. The enemies and weapon effects aren’t anything to write home about, either. Sound is missing entirely, which is not necessarily a bad thing for a $0.99 game, in our opinion, because we would rather it be absent than tacked on. Plus, you can listen to heavy metal on your iPod while zapping hordes of motes.

Overall, Mote-M is a good Defense game at a very reasonable price. Even though it lacks some of the variety of its cousins, it hits all of the important elements, and even tosses in a few novel tower mechanics and some basic stat tracking. We recommend it to anyone who has not yet played a Defense title, and also to veterans who are looking for a basic, inexpensive mobile fix.

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