Jelly Defense is tower defense gaming at its best. Developed by Infinite Dreams Inc. for iOS, (also Mac) and Android, it looks good and plays well. Version 1.06 is available today and patched all the major flaws in gameplay; audio control options added as well as a much needed speed up button and improved coin collection. Easy mode for casual gamers is now available and some tweaks were done to improve game performance and balance. It is a typical tower defense game with multiple levels, each containing waves of incoming enemies that you have to defend against with a selection of strategically placed and upgradeable towers.
If you’re wondering why you should try yet another typical tower defense game, it is because this one is special. The design is quirky and outstanding, the soundtrack catchy and addictive and there are plenty of variety with changing maps broken up by cute mini-games, different enemies requiring varying strategies and a solid selection of towers each with 4 levels.
Jelly Defense wins you over right from the start with its quirky look and catchy tunes. It’s a tower defense game that fits the genre like a glove and for us tower defense fanatics, there just isn’t enough good ones out there; well, here’s one more to add to that must-play list.
Infinite Dreams did everything right when it comes to the look and feel of Jelly Defense. Its perfect minimalistic maps are vibrant and intriguing making it a world definitely worth defending. The towers grow rather than appear, upgrades are easy to manage and on top of a lovely looking game, there’s a funny sad story that pulls you along through the levels. It’s rare to play a tower defense game wondering how it will end; will I save the Jelly nation from the Kiwi Halvas invading? The answer is probably yes, that is the point of playing, but knowing that there will probably be a victorious happy ending isn’t the same as playing it through.
The Jelly Defense soundtrack is almost too catchy. I wish there was more of it. It’s the kind of music that you find yourself humming hours, no, days after you have put down the game. Not a bad thing first time around, in fact, it complements the design and game play perfectly, but not so fun when you are playing for days to weeks and all you ever hum is this. There is an option to remove just the music and when you get stuck on a map, you will make use of it.
Perfect Tower Defense Game Play
I am a great fan of traditional tower defense games. This is the game for those of us who always want more maps, more towers, more content, more waves and more modes when a game is really good and this one is. The new and the traditional are in perfect balance. There are plenty of towers, but you obtain extra towers by investing in them via the wisdom tree. It makes it a familiar, yet novel experience and each map is different enough to require an ever evolving strategy.
The flaws in Jelly Defense are within the settings and options and not within the game play. The sound settings are limited, easy mode is implemented strangely and the location of settings can be difficult to locate. Once you’ve figured out where everything is, most of these objections disappear; if you ever find them. More transparency within the menu system would have been ideal.
Sound settings limited
My personal preference is to mute sound effects, but keep the music on if it is good. Unfortunately, Jelly Defense does not provide that option. It has three sound settings: all sound on, sound effects only and mute. Such a pity that I can’t just listen to the music, it does add to the emotive content of the game.
Easy mode oddly implemented
A new easy mode has been added for casual gamers, but you have to fail a level 5 times to trigger it automatically; there is no option to shift to casual mode. I’m also not sure whether that triggers easy mode for the rest of the game or just that map. I wouldn’t recommend this for casual gamers. The difficulty level can be challenging and if you have to play each level 5 times to trigger easy mode, I can’t imagine the casual gamer enjoying the experience. If the difficulty level is automatically triggered for the remainder of the game, it has the drawback of punishing the quick learner who gets better and is then stuck without a challenge in easy mode until the very end.
Options difficult to find
All information is not available in-game. It was a struggle to locate easy mode, the only mention is in hidden text that I never read in the App Store. It took me a while to figure out what Gold stars are and how they work to unlock further levels. It wasn’t until I finally accidentally completed a map without loosing any of the ten crystals that a gold star popped up and I knew what was going on.
It’s not until you obtain a few gold stars that its clear that the number of stars listed on a locked level indicates how many stars you are short at the moment. Most of the tutorial is also embedded within the plot and levels; which means if you are failing a level repeatedly or replaying to get a gold star, you have no choice but to repeat the tutorial at the start of that level over and over as well. It would have been nice to have an options in the menu rather than embedded throughout the game.
Reasonably accessible for gamers with some visual impairment
No flash at all, very accessible in this respect.
Fixed aerial camera angle with no zoom or movement. Very accessible if you struggle with jumpy moving action across a changeable backdrop.
Text Size and HUD
The screen is static, so if you have any blind spots in your vision, you will have to move the device to work around it. The text size is generous on the iPad but quite small on the iPhone. The wave counter on the iPhone is tiny with tiny text and with no zoom, it is very difficult to read. However, the text within the game is not vital to the tower defense part of the game; if you don’t mind missing the plot, brief tutorials and don’t bother keeping count of how many waves are left in any case, tiny text does not make it unplayable.
The game is based on a blue-red colour scheme, which presents some issues for those with complete colour blindness. There is a single blue-red tower; the rest is colour specific, i.e. blue towers only touch blue enemies and red towers only red enemies. The enemies and towers do have a different look, so if you’re completely colour blind you could figure out through trial and error which enemies/towers are blue and which red, but it will require a lot effort that will detract seriously from the enjoyment of playing.
100% Accessible for deaf/hearing impaired gamers
The are no spoken dialogue; no subtitles required.
Reiance on auditory cues
Low reliance on auditory cues. Each tower has its own sound and there’s a special bell when a crystal is picked up, so the sound effects can make it easier, but for all sound effects there are visual effects as well so that the game can be played on mute without any issue.
There are three sound settings: Mute, special effects and music on and special effects only. There is no option for music without special effects. Volume is adjusted outside of the game via the device volume settings, so if you want to turn it down, you have to turn it down globally.
Very accessible for gamers with some physical impairments
A moderate reaction speed is needed. You cannot place towers whilst the game is paused and towers take a few seconds to grow, so you have to be quick to get towers in place at the start of waves, particularly at the beginning of a path. The map is still visible on pause, so if you do struggle, you can pause, decide on your strategy and which tower you want to place there, then just unpause to place it.
A moderate level of accuracy is required. Towers have to be to placed on allocated circles. The circles are quite small and close to each other and there is no visual or audio indicator that you have selected the correct circle. It will automatically place your tower on the nearest and when two circles are close, it can be very difficult to place your tower where you want it. Towers are dragged and dropped into place and some actions require a touch on the screen whilst others require a hold.
Pause and save options
Autosave on exit so that you can pick up right where you left of. Pause any time, convenient for short, frequent play sessions.
Designed for handheld devices and as such, designed for one handed play. Plays seamlessly with one hand.
No customizability but with minimal touch screen controls, none required.
Strategy based marvel with no jargon, little complexity and no language requirements
Reading, language and vocabulary
There is very reliance of language skills and no big or complicated words. Tips are one liners at the bottom of load screens, but they are helpful hints that are not essential. Where text-based storyline dialogue or instructions are provided, they appear on the screen and there is a check box to tick when you are done reading, so there is no time limit. Even if you never read a single piece of dialogue or instruction, the tower defense strategy is simplistic enough to figure out for yourself.
There are 8 towers and you have to remember what at least 3-4 of them do. There are multiple types of enemies and knowing their strengths/weakness will make it easier, but you can still complete a level successfully even if you can’t remember any of it; some information is obvious, fast enemies run, tenacious enemies have health bars that go down slowly and what isn’t obvious, isn’t really needed. The controls are extremely easy, touch, hold, drag and drop. The menu keeps track of all your game statistics and remembers for you which levels you have completed and which levels you have earned a cold star on.
Focus, Organization & Planning
It is a tower defense strategy game and so its all about focus, organization and planning. However, it does start slowly and can be the perfect tool for improving your skills. It follows the traditional set layout and channels your ability to plan and execute strategies onto a very narrow focused task with a single goal. There is very little requirement for multi-tasking; the most complicated it gets is having to watch enemy progression, upgrade towers and pick up coins at the same time. Maps are simple and clear and very accessible.
Math and computations
There is an element of resource management within the game. Towers cost currency and its up to you to manage your budget. Extra currency is earned by killing attacking Kiwi’s and you can choose to spend your dough either on buying new towers or upgrading old ones. There is also the option to sell towers that are no longer useful at a reduced price of the original cost. The figures are relatively easy ones buying, 50, 100, 150, 200 etc but a little more complicated when selling, 80, 110, 190 etc.
Social Interaction (Other players)
There is no social interaction either with other players or non-player characters that requires any input from the player.
There is no customizability that could be useful, but very little is required due to the design and genre. The lack of support does not point toward the developer not spending time on this, but rather a positive point that the design and game play is so well designed and brilliantly executed that it wasn’t required to add any help.
A must play tower defense game with great accessibility for most
Jelly Defense is an elegant, zany, memorable tower defense game that gets it very right. It’s hours of gameplay packed into an interesting and varying world that will have you addicted in no time. Very accessibly on the iPad and with the bigger screen, that much more immersive, but also pretty good on the iPhone. It’s a game with lasting appeal, great value for money and I would most definitely recommend it both to other tower defense fans and newcomers.