Aww Don't Go Home, Dinosaurs!
I jumped on this game to review because clearly I have a love affair with dinosaurs and dinosaur related products, so this was right up my alley.
Although it's not in my nature to root for people against dinosaurs, and indeed in the first few levels I found the gophers to be rather annoying, the dinosaurs are the enemy here. Within a few levels of World One it's pretty easy to get into the mindset of blowing those guys up because let's face it, no-one's allowed to eat my BBQ steaks except me!
The game is a fairly typical tower defence, complete with winding paths and a slew of enemies of varied speed and toughness. You get a bunch of different ways to defend your tower, plus a certain amount of currency to spend and space to place items in. Where this game differs from many in the genre is that you don't get currency to spend up front in order to place your defence, and you also have a limited number of placements regardless of how much space and currency you have.
Each defence placement is represented by a card. You can pick four cards before you start, and each one shows its cost. You can choose four of the same or mix and match, but by the time you reach to the end of World One, and certainly for gameplay beyond that, you'll need to consider the space available in your map and choose very carefully. I found that if I didn't look at the map for the stage I was on I would end up choosing a couple of cards that I was then be unable to fit into the layout of the map. Argh!
As for the card costs and how to pay to place them, you need to burrow around your map to collect coconuts from the trees that pop up. You start every level with zero coconuts, but with a set number of trees already spawned to start you off. You need to juggle your time at the start of a stage between taking down the dinosaurs and collecting the coconuts for your first defence placement. This got hairy for me in a few levels, as the game evilly begins with a lot of fast moving units - if you try to collect coconuts without bringing the units down then they'll easily get to your BBQ and steal your T-Bones. Conversely, if you spend all that time trying to take down the small fast units you'll have no defence when the harder dinosaurs arrive.
Some of the dinosaurs will explode in a shower of coins, and there are coin chests at the ends of levels where you don't get a card upgrade. It's not particularly obvious to start, but to collect your coins all you need to do is run your mouse cursor over them. These coins can be used to purchase store items (don't worry, there's no freemium here), some of which are just extra customisation for your main gopher character.
You will gain useful cards as you play, level rewards that let you have more defence placement cards and store unlocks so you can buy cards that allow boosts (although choosing those means one less defence card). Boosts include fireballs, instant explosions and three extra gopher helpers to take down those dinos!
The game has lovely bright graphics and cheerful music to help you along your journey and the dinosaurs are well designed and progress just annoyingly enough to keep you on your toes. You can take your larger card inventory and new card tricks back to earlier levels in an attempt to ace them, so don't fret if it seems impossible to perfect things as you go. There is also a handful of achievements on Steam that count as extra challenges, such as one early one that allows you to complete a level using only the instant exploding barrels. Another amusing feature is an optional vegan mode, where you can swap your juicy steaks for some cruelty free carrots! ... Well... except for the cruelty to the dinosaurs...