Waaaay back in 2012 our very own Brian Baglow dubbed Scotland the ‘Mobile Tower Defence Capital of the World‘. At that point, weirdly, several companies across Scotland were producing the popular defend-em-up genre, and doing it rather well. Like Hollywood movies featuring giant killer asteroids, or the more recent TikTok tortilla ‘hack‘, it seemed to be a product of the time.
However, there’s a lot to love here – especially if you’re a TD fan (we are, WE ARE). So we thought a quick roundup of the best tower defence games from Scotland would be a lovely way to kick off your day.
Oh and there’s one which was NOT made in Scotland, but really really wishes that it was – so very hard that we couldn’t help but include it. You’ll recognise it. It’s the Scottish one…
Monkeys, Balloons And Darts, Oh MY!
Arguably the biggest Tower Defence franchise ever! If you also include the proviso that it must contain monkeys. The Bloons franchise has reached millions with it’s cartoony aesthetic and ‘just one more level’ addictive nature. Who doesn’t want to command a monkey army to defend against an encroaching balloon menace?!
For the three people in the world who haven’t played a Bloons Tower Defence game, the premise is simple. You’ll start a level with an empty field, on which a path is drawn out. Your goal is to strategically place dart wielding monkeys (ranging from regular, to ninjas and even superheroes) and defensive weaponry to stop an ever growing amount of balloons from reaching the end of the path.
This franchise comes from Ninja Kiwi, who’s Dundee-based studio has been making lovely monkey-based games since 2007 and is showing no signs of slowing down. With it’s timeless pick-up-and-play, addictive design (to be honest, I started redownloading Balloons TD 5 while writing this article), Bloons is here to stay and we, collectively, should be very grateful.
They’re Coming Out The God Damned Walls
Let me ask you a question, who doesn’t like taking on waves of aliens in a seemingly endless battle for intergalactic supremacy? Aliens are here and they are not the friendly, slightly awkward, hiding in a closet full of toys E.T, your-best-friend-from-space kind. They have arrived with one goal, invasion! And possibly probing. It’s up to you to stop them and defend the earth.
Are you up to the challenge? Outplay Entertainment is the giant floating brain-in-a-jar behind the wonderful Alien Creeps, a classic TD game chock-a-block with fiendishly difficult levels, awesome upgradable hardware and endless waves of aliens which make Starship Trooper’s giant bugs look like, umm, smaller, less scary bugs.
With over 20 million downloads world wide Alien Creeps is definitely one to look out for. You can download this title – free – for your mobile device and start fighting back against alien invaders in mere minutes!
If you prefer your ravening hordes a little more Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, don’t worry Outplay has your back there too. The company’s Castle Creeps takes the laser-wielding aliens out and replaces them with orcs, weird monsters, spellcasting and bold adventurers. Swords, axes and bows will be your weapons of choice against ye classic Tolkein-esque monsters in this equally impressive fantasy tower defence title.
You Sunk my BattleShip
Released back in 2012, this tower defence title, from Dundee’s Cobra Mobile, can boast ‘very positive’ reviews on Steam. It also reduces our editor to giddy reminisence, about the several times he’s completed the game, only to be outfoxed on the very last level of the seriously-bloody-difficult last level. For the sake of his blood pressure, we think you should give it a go…
Thus far we’ve spoken about games in which you fight against, marauding monsters, attacking aliens and even shit-your-pants-scary balloons. However, we haven’t had a good old fashioned WWII blow-stuff-up type of game. If you’ve been reading this thinking, ‘Yes. This is all well and good but when can I destroy tanks, troops, fighter planes, and sink battleships?’ your search is over.
The sequel to the equally impressive and similarly destructive iBomber Defense, iBomber Defense Pacific is described in the game’s trailer as ‘old-school tower defence tactics, tuned to perfection’ and that we can categorically confirm. It’s good solid, cigar-chomping, take-the-hill-men, SAS-em-up FUN. All of the iBomber titles can certainly scratch your TD itch, but we’ll recommend Pacfic Defence as the pinnacle of the series so far (Cobra – if you are not working on the new iBomber TD game, we’ll have to listen to Brian banging on and on about this one until the end of time. Please, for our sake, make another one. Thank you).
A Yeti Attacked Us, No Breakfast Buffet: 1 Star!
Ooooooh God! How to describe Bad Hotel? The game’s developer, Lucky Frame, describes it as a ‘music generation tower defence game’ but even that may leave you scratching you head. Forget EVERYTHING that you read above. The Tower Defence genre is not stuck in the realms of aliens, orcs, elves, catastrophic global conflicts, or naughty balloons. No, you can now enjoy a tower defence game set in the world of professional holiday accommodation. Yes, years before AirBnB became a ‘thing’, Edinburgh’s Lucky Frame reimagined the whole genre, set it to funky beats, and produced the BAFTA award-winning Bad Hotel.
Where to even being? Essentially you play a hotel owner trying to literally build a business as the tyrannical Tarnation Tadstock send his army of rats, seagulls… and yeti (yes, you read that right, actual Yeti) to destroy your building. The goal is to build your hotel as quickly and sensibly as possible while fighting back the waves of enemies. The really cool thing about this title is the music however, the game will generate a soundtrack based on the player’s actions and decisions. On Lucky Frame’s website this feature is described as:
The Player becomes the composer, creating complex musical structures to defend their hotel. A vast variety of music can be generated, from delicate beach chillout to country banjo techno.Lucky Frame
COUNTRY. BANJO. TECHNO. Essentially if iBomber seemed too sensible to you, or you’re not convinced that balloons are truly and inherently evil, Bad Hotel will take you to a very (very) different place.
Bad Hotel is available on Steam
Defend the Highlands – You May Take our lives but you’ll never take our Porridge!
OK cards on the table time. Defend the Highlands was not developed in Scotland. Far from it. Literally. The Australian development studio Kilted Camel produced this endearing culture clash back in 2015.
‘What’s this game about?’ I hear you ask, to which my answer is, read the title.
The game isn’t afraid to address the complex relationships between the four nations of the United Kingdom in the 21st century. So you’ll recruit (bearded) warriors from all over bonnie Scotland to fight off teapot-wielding Englishmen, Sheep-riding Walshmen, and Irish potato farmers.
The subtle stereotyping doesn’t stop there however. Your weapons include mighty porridge cannons, turnip turrets and, for some reason, cheese wheels! You will need to recruit more Scotsmen to man these highly technical machines of war however, so break out the bagpipes (yes, you play the pipes to gather more troops). What’s not to love?
Hard drinking and amazing accents are included – at no added cost. The game has even spawned a sequel, with Defend The Highlands: World Tour, also available, in which the Scots embark upon a fremen-like jihad, meets a drunken stag party weekend, as they liberate their oppressed brothers around the world.
We really cannot think why this game wasn’t made in Scotland…
You can find Defend the Highlands on Steam.
There you have it. It was a magical time. We, however briefly, had a ‘thing’. What will be the next emergent trend from Scotland’s vibrant games sector? We’re kinda hoping it’s Real Time Strategy, or maybe Interactive Fiction. Whatever it is, fingers crossed it doesn’t rely upon porridge as a resource.
What would you like to see readers?