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[In-Depth Review] Stick Wars vs. Defend Your Castle

05-08-2009, 05:26 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: LA
Posts: 153
[In-Depth Review] Stick Wars vs. Defend Your Castle

Intro: With two games that are very similar and both getting updates I thought a comparison was needed. Since it was so long I split it into two posts Stick Wars in the first Defend Your Castle in the Second. I know there was a thread already about comparison, but people just said Stick Wars is Awesome, or vice versa, so I decided to start it over.

Also I wanted to start my own review site, but didn't know if I wanted to put in time i didn't know how many people would read. Then I thought of contributing to an established site like Touch Arcade or Fingergaming, but don't even know how ask them to do that. So what do you think?

I’ll begin with Stick Wars ($0.99): Stick Wars
Stick Wars has gone a long way since being Siege where you had to flick red monsters. Now it’s Stick Wars where you have to flick away on coming stick people to try to prevent them from destroying your castle.
Basic game play: Stick Wars is a perfect pick up and play game where the stick figures are coming and all you have to do is pick them up, and toss them in the air high enough, and let gravity do the rest as they’re killed when they come back down to the ground. As you progress in the levels more and more varied stick people come, and being able to flick multiple enemies with both thumbs make it a lot easier to play. Stick Wars is very responsive to multiple inputs and drags the stick people wherever you would like. You can also grab them and flick them hard at the ground to crush them if you’re so inclined. With more and more on coming enemies you need more help than just your fingers so comes in the add-ons that you can purchase with points made from killing the stick figures.
The first purchase is the prison where you convert enemy stick figures to use on your side. The next 4 purchases are the places to train your captured enemies. There is the bomb pit, archery, stone masons, and wizards. Once you have enough to buy one of these a tent shows up inside your castle and you double tap it to train one of your prisoners as an archer, repair man, or wizard. You can also send them out as suicide bombers when your overloaded with enemies at the castle. The Wizards are the only one of your defenders that you actually control, the others work on their own account. With wizards you press the corresponding button at the bottom of the screen and then on the playfield to cast the spell. The prison can be upgraded to convert more than one at the same time. Also you can have an unlimited number of untrained prisoners. The prison also shows a status bar as the progress of the conversion. Your castle has a health meter that deteriorates as enemies beat on it with whatever weapons they have. At the end of each level you can repair your castle or fortify to make it stronger with the points gained from killing the attackers. This game play is the basic defend your castle game play seen in the flash version: Flash Defend Your Castle

Visuals: The game has basic visuals with stick figures with different weapons, and a wall that represents your castle. There is a grass field they run across to get to your castle, and with the 1.2 update there is now a sun that only sits there, and switching of the weather, as there are sometimes snow days. You can see the screen shot to show the basic gameplay picture. The animations though are much better than the basic picture beginning with the new weapons each of the stick figures now brings, another new addition for 1.2. When each stick figure comes back to the ground, a splash of blood explodes out from each one. The wall of your castle shows deterioration as its being destroyed as well. Once you have archers you see them on your castle sending out arrows that go into the stick figures with blood squirting out. Once you have stone masons/repairmen they sit on the outside of your wall with a window cleaner type thing, but you can’t see them working. Once the wizards come you see the spells by a splash of light on screen, with varying bursts of colors. The scale of Stick Wars has a wide range for stick figures that aren’t that big, so they have to be tossed further, and even when there’s a lot of them they all have differing spaces and don’t arrive in a bunch.

Sounds: For sounds this was a major problem before 1.2. There was no background music, of course you can listen to your own, but a game should have its own music and especially this one. Without music there are constant screams of each killing and a yeesss from a converted prisoner. This gets very tired without anything else, but now the additions of background music dulls those sounds, and is a very good tune to go with the atmosphere of the game.

Menu System: The menu system is pretty boring with nothing major just lists, see the two pictures below. At the end of each level when you’re given your stats there are fireworks in the background and the add-on options have basic list view.

Difficulty: Stick Wars in the options has three modes of difficulty, and I’ve played normal and hard. Normal starts out slow and starts to ramp up pretty quickly, until you get the archers, and then the archers take care of most of the attackers and you just sit back and watch. Hard mode is where it’s quite difficult being able to even afford archers, and they do less for you. The scale requires a strong toss to kill the attackers which is a good thing. Also in the options you can increase the amount of blood from the attackers, and it is set at low to begin which I thought was plenty, but I’ve been playing on medium lately so there’s blood everywhere.
The save system works great saving exactly where you left off, and it saves at the complete of each level.

Overall: Stick wars has a fun engaging gameplay that is easy to pick up and play anytime, even for short bursts, since it saves wherever you are. Stick Wars is getting constantly better, with relatively quick updates, and it currently the #4 best selling app so should continue to get those updates, and improve on an already great game.

Score: 4/5

Stick Wars is a great game that I have fun with each time I play it, and the updates adding background music and more varying attackers has helped a lot, but it’s not very polished, as just a regular 2D scene with nothing really popping out. The gameplay is great which makes you want to keep playing, but it looks archaic in comparison to Defend your Castle. It’s very similar to Defend Your Castle, and with a few tweaks to the overall polish, and it would top Defend Your Castle. As it stands now, I would give the slight edge to defend Your Castle, but you win either way.

Twitter @mactds
Game Center: mactds

Last edited by mactds; 05-13-2009 at 07:06 PM.
05-08-2009, 05:26 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: LA
Posts: 153
Next Defend Your Castle ($0.99): Defend Your Castle
Defend Your Castleís port to the iphone is from the wii version rather than their flash based game. Defend your castle and Stick Wars have the same gameplay so I donít think I need to detail it.
Gameplay Differences: Most is the same with great responsiveness to both thumbs to flick away multiple enemies. The differences are subtle between the two, and this will focus on the differences with Defend your Castle. Most are from the add-ons to your castle. Defend your castle has a menu in the top right corner to add converts to the differing units rather than the double tap on the tent. To allocate the wizard weapons you press the icon in the top left then where you want it on screen. The wizarding options are an eraser, to erase one attacker, spray paint, to convert one attacker, and bomb. All three take time to refresh and the more wizards you have the faster the refresh rate. Captured enemies are dropped into a paint bucket at the bottom right, and there is no progress bar, only one at a time, and you can have only 10 converts at a time. At 10 converts you have to allocate them or you canít convert any more, all of which differ from Stick Wars which is the easier in that regard. Defend Your Castle has a sun in each round that progresses as the round progresses so you know how long is left, which is really important once you reach the very long levels. There are five different enemies Iíve reached with the most difficult being the catapults which Iíve only got rid of with the eraser.
Visuals: Defend Your Castle has an arts & crafts handmade type theme where everything is made out of real items. The stick figures are drawn by crayon; the clouds and sun are made from paper with little pipe cleaners. The castle and grass look like felt and you can see it all overlay a cork board, peaking through on the edges. There is an actual eraser and spray paint can, as well as a paint bucket as the pit of conversion. The varying enemies include bottle cap headed larger ones, plus small ones holding popsicle sticks for ramming. The stick figures progress from the left to the right, and in the regular mode the stick figures are quite big, so the scale is tilted to have big stick figures about the size of the castle. In the 1.01 update there is now a classic mode where the scale is a lot like stick figures and when playing classic it feels like stick wars. See the image in classic mode and compare to Stick Wars and the normal mode and defend your castle to judge for yourself.
Here is Classic Mode:

The one problem visually compared to stick figures is that the archers, wizard, stone masons are just heads on their respective towers where Stick Wars has actual archers and wizards and stone masons on their wall. There is no blood, and I think that goes with the art style. Each mode though has beautiful art work and great polish, which reminds me of Little Big Planet being simple and yet beautiful at the same time.

Sound: There is subtle background music and varying screams from the killed. The background music is very subtle, and not as pronounced as in Stick Wars. There are crush sound effects from each stick figure being killed, and also sound effects from the eraser, spray can, and bomb blasts. The bigger enemies make grunting noises, and the catapults are squeaky, all of which add to the overall atmosphere.
Menu System: Check the two screenshots and compare them to Stick Wars. This was a really good example to compare the polish of the two. Instead of just regular stats there is a calculator, a receipt of the kills, a pencil, a dice, and itís just nice. The upgrade screen shows all of the upgrade on the castle just on a regular paper.

Difficulty: Defend Your Castle in normal mode doesnít get difficult until you get into the level 30ís and maybe not even until the 40ís because you have so much money to fortify or repair any damage you take after already buying every add on. Once you put it on heroic though the difficulty picks up rather early and you have a lot less money, and it requires more strategy when to buy each tower and how to allocate your converts. Also heroic and classic mode requires you to toss the stick figures with more strength to actually kill them, similar to Stick Wars.
Defend you Castle has a great system that picks up right where you left off with whatever stick figures were attacking you at the point of exit. You can officially save after each level and have multiple save files. Currently Iím playing a classic heroic mode, and wii normal mode, and having fun with each. Like Stick Wars Defend Your Castle looks like it will have quite a few updates relatively quickly to improve the already great game.

Score: 5/5
Defend Your Castle has everything a Defend your castle type game could have, and itís because they started it and having been improving it ever since. I love the artsy style, which may turn you off, but in classic mode you canít even tell, and ultimately gameplay wins out, and it plays exactly how you would expect. If you like these kind of games then you will have a great time playing, and itís amount of polish puts it over Stick Wars.

Conclusion Overall: If you couldnít tell, I like both of these games and find it easy to recommend both for $0.99 each. After the 1.2 update of Stick Wars and 1.01 of Defend Your Castle both have fixed most of the problems I found with each before. If you want just one though I would recommend Defend Your Castle because of the amount of polish, and minute details that go into it. Defend Your Castle with the 1.01 update included classic mode, and now really it contains the wii version of Defend Your Castle plus Stick Wars so you get to play both without really having to decide, and can switch back and forth between the different mode because of the multiple save slots. Ultimately you canít go wrong with either one with great gameplay mechanics in each, but Defend Your Castleís polish and containing multiple game modes makes it the winner.

Twitter @mactds
Game Center: mactds

05-08-2009, 05:40 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 467
I went for defend your castles pretty much based on the art style and the menus. I don't like the font on Stick Wars.
05-08-2009, 05:47 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Posts: 2,404
I have no interest whatsoever in this style of gameplay, but that was a phenomenal comparison

Don't check this site or private messages often.
05-08-2009, 09:42 PM
StickWars Dev...

This is by far the most in-depth comparison I've read between my StickWars and XGen's game. I enjoyed reading it and I'm glad that you took the time to go into such detail.

A quick correction: my game is not 'Siege', which is a different game by a different dev. My game was initially called 'StickWars - Siege' but I went ahead and changed the name in v1.1 to avoid confusion between the two.

It kind of makes me smile to see that a major factor you mentioned that puts Defend your Castle is the overall polish and visuals, including the menus. I definitely agree with that aspect...I'm just a single dev and I started StickWars from scratch as my first iPhone game just over 6 weeks ago. I am still struggling night and day just to fix bugs, add new enemies, etc. Fixing the polish of the menus and such is important, but at this rate I'll probably won't get around to it for weeks.

I do disagree with this phrase though:
The gameplay is great which makes you want to keep playing, but it looks archaic in comparison to Defend your Castle. With a knock off of the original that isnít as good as the original I canít give it a 5, but itís still a great time if you like these type of games.
While the games share a genre, I designed StickWars from the ground up to have the most enjoyable gameplay on an iPhone, and I'd contest that the end result is we have quite different games.

But I'm not here argue or anything, I just wanted to point out my thoughts. I honestly enjoyed reading the review and getting this massive amount of feedback. Thanks!
05-08-2009, 09:45 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 2,437
That was such i good comparison but now i dont know which one to buy because they both sound good
05-08-2009, 10:29 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 272
No offense to the great review by mactds, or to anyone else, I still think Stickwars feels more like a castle-defense-type game. It's much simpler and more satisfying.

If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
But life's made better because of iPods.
05-09-2009, 12:15 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 4,443
Great comparison! I own both titles and also prefer Defend Your Castle.

Now Playing: Vietnam '65 | .Decluster | BP2Black | Monster Hunter Freedom Unite | Banner Saga | Ultimate General Gettysburg | Papers, Please | SmartGo Kifu | Crowntakers | Brogue | FTL
05-09-2009, 12:18 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: VA
Posts: 1,112
I got both, and found myself playing Stick Wars way more. I like the graphics better then Defend Your Castle, and Stick Wars is just more fun for me. Althought both are very good games, and glad I picked up both.
05-09-2009, 12:31 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: In AMERICA.
Posts: 643
I like Stick Wars better. Better visuals, magic, ect. I think most people on the app store like Stick Wars better also as it's ranked a lot higher than defend your castle.