I don’t think I’ve done anything to offend my Pocket Gamer masters, but if I had I would consider this assignment a cruel and unusual punishment for my crime.
Frontier Tower Defence is a tower defence game that manages to mess up even the basics of the genre with some horrible controls, bizarre design decisions, and nasty bugs.
Where to begin?
In case you were unaware, tower defence games involve you placing down static defensive units to keep baddies from reaching your base.
The strategy is in cunningly placing them for maximum damage. When enemies fall, you get coins to build more, perform upgrades, and so on.
So how does Frontier Tower Defense set about breaking the formula? Well, the main issue is its innovation: you’re given a creepy looking anthropomorphic bear to be your on-site builder.
If you want to construct a tower, you’ll need to send old Bear-face over there to set it up. The same goes for collecting coins from the fallen enemies.
The problem with this is that the controls are awful. The game tries to fit a D-pad and button at the bottom of the screen, and it’s all too easy to blunder straight into the path of an enemy for an instant lost life - and you don’t have many.
You may think this would add tension to proceedings. And it would, if you couldn't pause the game and steer the bear with impunity around frozen enemies, collecting coins and building towers.
It's not clear why the developer didn’t let you control things from above, as in every other successful strategy game ever.
Not only would this have solved the control issues, but it would have helped the game’s user interface, which is crowded, confusing, and frustrating.
The D-pad and button take up a good quarter of the screen, and the rest of the play area is frustratingly fiddly.
Your avatar frequently blends into the background, and landing on exactly the right spot to set up a tower is a royal pain (the game won’t let you place units on any square not occupied by a tree.)
The final frontier?
Underneath the surface lies a solid tower defence game, but it would take a forgiving player to overlook the game's faults.
The presentation is ugly, the sound is sparse and repetitive, and the graphics, though quite detailed, are too small to make the detail anything other than an annoyance.
The Android Market description promises 50 hours' worth of gameplay, making Frontier Tower Defence a bargain. But you could spend 50 hours going round and round the London Underground for £1.50 by the same logic.
I wouldn't recommend you try either.