PixelJunk Monsters got there first in bringing the classic tower-defense genre to the PSN, yet Savage Moon just about edges out in front to take the lead with its utterly bleak setting and screeching, scuttling creepy crawlies. The aim of the game is really incredibly simple: players must prevent waves of bugs from destroying their vulnerable moon base by building automatic weapons defenses around the map. How you stop them is much less straightforward thanks to a really steep learning curve and layers of strategic depth. It%26rsquo;s not just a case of setting up a few defense towers in front, behind and to the sides of your moon base while holding down fire.
For each attack wave you have a set number of %26lsquo;drop-pods%26rsquo; that determine how many new weapons you can build, plus a limited amount of cash to spend on upgrading weapons and researching new ones. When your weapons annihilate the bugs, you get more cash. You%26rsquo;re always told which enemy types will attack in the next wave, so you constantly need to replace weapons and move them around depending on what%26rsquo;s the most effective method.
But there%26rsquo;s even more to it. You can force the next, more advanced wave of critters to appear early to earn bonus cash. Changeable Command Skills let you earn extra money for every kill, increase your current level of armor or beef up your firepower while preserving a balance between all three. And placing Blockers will divert enemies, or at least hold them up, so more powerful weapons can be trained on them for longer.
As early as the fourth level, Savage Moon gets extremely punishing and frantic, which makes it a real bargain given there are 12 levels in total. Even the crappy presentation and lack of multiplayer don%26rsquo;t detract from what turns out to be a surprisingly cerebral and addictive gem. Like PixelJunk Monsters? You%26rsquo;ll love this.
Feb 2, 2009