Mistwalker Studios - the team fronted by Final Fantasy creator Hironobi Sakaguchi - didn't have the most illustrious entrance into iOS gaming with surfing sim Party Wave, but tower defence title Blade Guardian appears to be stood on more solid ground.
Unfortunately, despite the pedigree behind it, the game is a little too dour for its own good.Defended
You're tasked with defending a base from oncoming alien attackers after being dropped, with little explanation, into the middle of an asteroid. There's a base to defend, and a variety of holes in the ground where the xenos are going to crawl from.
There are some piecemeal defences in place already - usually a couple of bits of wall and some cannons - and to start with you'll need to shepherd the ravening hordes in that direction if you want to survive.
Killing aliens gets you some currency, which you can spend on strengthening the weapons you already have, positioning new gun emplacements, or building some cheap but useful walls to force the aliens into your ever-growing kill-zone.
So far, so tower defence. The game's main twist comes in the form of the titular blades. These float across the screen, and if you shoot one down it'll attack the first spawn point it can get to. Once a spawn point is destroyed, you don't need to worry about it any more.Defeated
You can win a round without surviving all of the waves if you manage to destroy all of the enemy's spawn points, meaning the blades, which are more like walking tanks, become your focus as soon as they appear.
The problem is, in spite of its innovation and decidedly hardcore approach to tower defence, there's no spark to Blade Guardian whatsoever. Its presentation is flat, its level design is repetitive, and its progression almost non-existent.
In all honesty, the game feels unfinished. And, while tower defence fans will find a system with a good deal of depth that's quick to punish mistakes, the rest of the gaming world will find a drab, uninspiring experience. That it comes from a developer with the history of Mistwalker makes it even more disappointing.