Trolls vs Vikings (iOS) Review
Miranda L Visser / Mar 12th, 2014 No Comments
From Megapop Games – based out of Oslo, Norway – Trolls vs Vikings suggests in its very name its likely inspiration from the extremely popular mobile title Plants vs Zombies. However, Trolls vs Vikings seems to be more than just inspired by the game that the developers at Megapop admitted to enjoy so much. When gamers catch the scent of borrowed or stolen intellectual property in the water, retribution can be quick and deadly for the perpetrators.
This title seems to be an almost rule-for-rule, lane-for-lane, interface-for-interface copy of its predecessor created by Popcap – ironically a similar company name to Megapop – with a few shifts in terms of character abilities and predominance of in-app purchases. These similarities are likely an attempt to ride the former’s coattails to popularity, but have the potential to cause gamers to dismiss the game outright.
Noticeably Norwegian based on its uncharacteristic casing of trolls as the good guys, Trolls vs Vikings tells the story of how the “dumb” Vikings are duped into attacking the formerly peaceful trolls previously minding their own business until the Vikings show up in their forests.
The trolls must use their innate skills of mining and being troll-ish in general to fight off the invaders. In an interesting twist, the trolls also have the aid of the gods in their fight, providing for the ability to destroy Vikings with fire, lightning or huge stones dropped from the heavens.
The obvious differences from Plants vs Zombies end with the story as most of the other aspects of Trolls vs Vikings look to be exact lifts from the former title. In typical line defense game fashion, players line up their fighters – trolls in this case – on a grid and await the coming onslaught of their enemies. Each character has a different ability, with the most important undoubtedly being the miner, who generates the currency used to buy and place defensive characters. After that it’s an expected array of ranged and close-quarters combat specialists.
Some of the few promised new dynamics of the game are the abilities granted by the gods that allow the player to target Vikings anywhere on the board. This is especially useful as a last line of defense when particularly tricky opponents make it to your back lines. Unfortunately, like the bonus characters, these are steeped in a pay-to-win transaction model that allows the player to get only a taste before placing them promptly behind a paywall.
Profit-driven models like this can work for both players and publishers when they are mutually un-intrusive; the transactions are profitable for the creators and don’t tarnish the game or players are not required to buy add-ons to enjoy and complete the game. If this is the healthy balance that was aimed for in Trolls vs Vikings, they missed it by a mile. This is not good for the enjoyment of the players unwilling to pay for that decisive edge.
With a simple and easy to use drag-and-drop interface, Trolls vs Vikings follows the path already cleared by others in the line defense genre. The few quirks that make for something different include a troll that can be moved around the grid, making for a great asset in the case that your ranged and rooted melee units can’t do the job. Even if directing this one troll around the field and simply placing the rest isn’t a huge deal, it is smooth and well executed with no complaints other than unoriginality.
Cartoonish characters and fields of battle viewed from the top down tend not to lend themselves to graphical innovation. However, this game executes what it intends to be with shining colors. Clear, pleasing-to-the-eye menus and artfully drawn units help ensure players never mistake one for another to inhibit them during a fight.
Modeling a title after a wildly popular game generally has the potential to achieve some popularity, but only if it improves upon existing mechanics. Trolls vs Vikings fails to do so and instead stumbles over in-game transactions and lack of a real hook to set it apart from its model and genre. As it’s free, it’s definitely worth a try for tower or line defense fanatics, but is unlikely to get a real following or be anyone’s favorite mobile distraction.
tags: megapop , plants vs zombies , review , Tower Defense , trolls vs Vikings