Defend Your Castle review – arts and crafts warfare done right

While digitally sold games are part and parcel of the gaming scene these days, there was a time when they were relatively new, and I tended to pay attention to them more because you could count the new releases on one hand. Xbox 360 led the charge to be sure, but being a Nintendo fan meant I was always smitten by WiiWare. They had file size limitations, so the games that came out for it had to be concise. One of the first games I ever fell in love with was an art-and-crafts tower defense game by Xgen Studios called Defend Your Castle.

Over a decade later, the game has made a return to the Switch, and I love it as much now as I did then.

In a paper cutout world, you are tasked with making sure these little (and literal) button-headed stickmen don’t destroy your domain. At the outset you simply have to pick them up (the game is touch only) and fling them into the air so that they fall and crumple on the ground. As you move on, more enemies appear with new weaponry (popsicle stick battering rams! Soda cap ogres!), which means you have to up your game. As you earn points that you convert into currency, you can update your castle with different warriors stationed on various parapets. Soon enough there’s a push and pull that involves reinforcing your castle, rebuilding lest your “helth” falls, and converting enemies to feed the machine, as it were.

This is a game that was simply made for portable mode, because it started its life as a mobile and PC game. It feels good to pluck enemies and fling them, to tap on towers to load them up with soldiers and wizards and select your next upgrade. The Wii version was fantastic (the bread tie cursor is a nice touch), but Switch feels like where Defend Your Castle belongs.

The nice thing is, thanks to the Switch’s ability to skate in and out of software relatively quickly, Defend Your Castle is the perfect game to play in between larger gaming sessions, or if you only have a minute or two. Which is good, because the charm wears off during longer playthroughs. I liked being able to pick it up, play through five levels or so, then move on. The presentation is charming as hell, the minimal music is good and listening to soldiers scream upon death or explode with a popcap bomb is satisfying. Furthermore, there are now arbitrary achievements in the game, which are a fun way to keep players coming back with something new to try and tackle.

Don’t sleep on Defend Your Castle. It’s simple design belays its addictive nature. For a fiver it’s a no-brainer.

Defend Your Castle was developed by XGen Studios and is available on Steam, Switch, Mac, iOS and no longer on Wii (RIP WiiWare). We reviewed the Switch version.

Disclosure statement: Review code for Defend Your Castle was provided by XGen Studios. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.