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Protect Me Knight, not tower defense but action defense

Protect Me Knight is an Xbox Indie game that drew me in with retro graphics but blew me away with a great concept, top notch game play and just a lot of fun…not to mention the cool retro graphics and music. If you like tower defense games, then Protect Me Knight brings a new challenge of an overlooked genre…the action defense game.

Build and watch

Tower defense games is one of my favorite game genres. It fills my need to strategically build things while also blowing stuff up. Defense Grid, Ninja Town and the insanely popular Plants vs. Zombies are all great examples of tower defense games. You build structures in attempts to stop attacking hordes of monsters or robots. The one thing tower defense games lack, however, is real interaction. It’s a very passive genre for the most part. You setup your defense and then you watch. And for some games, like Defense Grid, a single level can last upwards of 30 minutes without a guarantee of victory. Now that’s commitment (and disappointment).

Protect Me Knight (which you’ll have a hard time finding in XBLIG because it’s listed under its Japanese name so use this link) puts a little spin on the tower defense formula. Yeah, you build structures to help fend of hordes of goblins, but you also have a direct hand in the fight.

Protect Me Knight
Protect Me Knight, keep the princess safe...if you can

Taking control of the situation

Your goal, as the title might suggest, is protect the princess. You choose a character class and fight goblins, demons and dragons while keeping the princess safe. You can build barricades and even upgrade them, but most of the action happens with the character you control. You directly attack the baddies with your special powers and weapons.

Protect Me Knight turns tower defense into a more active game rather than passive. You can’t rely on your built defenses to do the job. The barricades really only slow bad guys down, it’s up to you to kill them. This is why I’ve dubbed this action defense…and I like it. It’s a good balance of thinking ahead while otherwise just button mashing and beating up bad guys.

Upgrading is essential - and fun!
Upgrading is essential - and fun!

Amazon, fighter, mage or ninja, who are you?

Another feather in the game’s cap is the multiplayer aspect. Grab up to four of your friends and have a smashing good time going at it. Playing solo is a lot of fun but you’ll only get so far before the numbers are just overwhelming, even at normal difficulty. Jen and I played through the game pretty quickly (on easy) but it was a blast getting there with a lot of yelling back and fourth. This is one co-op game that doesn’t lead to arguments about who should be doing what.

However, being an indie release means the game doesn’t support online multiplayer, only local. If Xbox wanted another hot arcade title on their hands along the lines of Castle Crashers, they would re-release Protect Me Knight on XBLA and watch it sell like hot cakes, especially for the price, which right now is a well-spent $3. Even up that to $5 and you’ll get your money’s worth. Did I mention it also comes with an endless survival mode? Again, money well spent.

Try the demo and whatever you do, don’t let the NES-era graphics turn you off. This game doesn’t need to be 3D or HD to be fun. Protect Me Knight is charming in style as well as it’s often hilarious English translations. I’m fascinated with this type of game play and I’m pretty sure it will seep into whatever game I try to make next myself.

Oh, and the official Protect Me Knight web site is just awesome. Check out the Japanese version as well, it’s almost better.