Times are hard, money’s tight, and anyone in possession of a respectable amount of it to invest in Android games needs to see a return.

A clone of tower defence hit Plants vs Zombies is not the game passionate industry people dream they’ll make, but a glance at the screenshots will tell you this is exactly what Humans vs Aliens is.

Fortunately for developer Epic Applications, PopCap’s glacial pace of Android development means the two games are unlikely to bump into each other in the near future.

Familiarity breeds contempt

Humans vs Aliens has the distinctive side-scrolling tower defence core mechanics down pat. You tap to place resource buildings, gather said resources, and recruit the titular Humans much as you'd expect.

There’s also a steady progression of unlockable units and foes, though they come rather thicker and faster than we'd like.

If you can’t say something nice

The entire enterprise, however, is characterised by an astoundingly pervasive economy of effort, and the game seems to actively avoid originality.

Animations have the bare minimum required number of frames, character designs seem lifted off the back of Chinese action figure boxes, painful spelling mistakes like “solider” abound. The list goes on.

This is a barely competent facsimile of Plants vs Zombies, managing to cut corners in the cloning process.

It strips out items like the trusty cherry bombs and the environmental hazards like the swimming pools and assorted other obstacles from the original source, but all this serves to do is reduce the depth of the gameplay.

The original is a classic because it has a razor-sharp interplay of honed mechanics and a soul. Humans vs Aliens takes an almost decent stab at the former, but it almost seems like it was purposefully avoiding the latter.