Game Reviews

Little 3 Kingdoms

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| Little 3 Kingdoms
Little 3 Kingdoms
| Little 3 Kingdoms

The whole castle defence phenomenon really is a sign of the iOS age. It's a genre born out of both the limitations and benefits of the interface.

Before the iPod touch and first-generation iPhone established themselves as legitimate gaming platforms, there was nary a tower defence game out there. Now the App Store is drowning in them.

The latest, AsNet's Little 3 Kingdoms, might just be the prettiest one of all. It takes full advantage of being an iPad-exclusive, with huge chunky sprites, beautiful bold colours, and tidy animation.

The game takes place during the Chinese dynasty wars, so its many little sprites are decked out in traditional attire as they do battle for temples, pagodas, and other familiar objects. But the setting's superfluous: it's all about the action.

Tap Tap Revenge

Little 3 Kingdoms isn't the most cerebral of games, but it's highly compelling. At the bottom of the screen are your building icons, so there's one for standard troops, one for upgrading your base, and so on.

As time ticks on you accumulate food - your currency for building. You then build more troops, kill more enemies, get more food, build even more troops, and so on ad infinitum. The feedback loop is familiar but no less satisfying for it

The object is to battle your way through the enemy's team and smash the shaolin out of their temple. At first it's stupefyingly easy, but the difficulty soon ramps up.

I need a hero

In order to succeed you'll need to deploy your heroes - usually horse-riding general types who ride behind your grunts bellowing orders. Any troops in earshot will immediately be buffed up and ready to do more damage. As you progress, you earn coins to buy new heroes or upgrade your army. Again, nothing new, but a reliable and enjoyable method of progression.

Unfortunately, Little 3 Kingdoms only dishes out the bare minimum of coinage and cranks up the challenge, deviously encouraging you to use real-world dollar to buy in-game currency. It's your choice, of course, but it's always a little ugly when in-app purchases directly influence a game's design. With 100 levels to plough through, progress might grow costly.

Still, there's always the option to grind your way through it, and Little 3 Kingdoms has the raw mechanics and good looks to make it just about worthwhile. Just don't expect a fresh and original experience, or you Wushu ("will sure") be disappointed.

Little 3 Kingdoms

Not exactly original, but a well-made and lovely looking castle defence game