Get your breath mints ready!
Posted 2 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
There’s two things I tend to look for in any game, regardless of it’s genre. First is how well suited it is for the platform it’s been released on. Portable, console, PC, or mobile, it needs to suit both the controls and the needs of said platform. Second, is how much staying power it has. It doesn’t matter if it’s an engrossing 40-hour epic RPG or quick, 60 second mini-games, it needs to reach out to the player in a way that brings them back, again and again. These two observations were my primary jumping points as I fired up the PSP version of Big Sandwich Games’ Hoard. Can this portable version satisfy each of them?
Just a quick jaunt through the two tutorial levels and you will immediately formulate a single-word impression: Simple. However, while the premise and the basic mechanics certainly indicate simplicity, delving deeper into this shooter/RTS hybrid will expose the difficulty. It reminisces of the old manta: Easy to learn, hard to master.
Essentially, you control a dragon looking to increase - what else - his hoard of gold. This can be accomplished by flying around the countryside and destroying the various castles and townships, or by laying wastes to farms and transport carts. As the towns grow (which they do over time as they receive funds from the farms), they will spout out archers to defend them from your fiery halitosis.
Sounds easy, right? Yeah, not so much once get a little further in. While some of the maps are solo affairs, tasking you to gain a certain amount of gold within ten minutes to achieve a Bronze, Silver, or Gold medal, others will have competing dragons. In those cases, victory will only be attained by acquiring more loot than your foe. Keep in mind that these dragons pose a physical danger to you and you to them as well. Fortunately, there’s a level system in place that allows for your dragon to have his defense, fire, speed, and carry capacity increased. Choosing what to upgrade and when is critical to staying ahead of the pack.
Additionally, the maps themselves have other hazards, such as wizard towers that will lob balls of magic pain at you and knight’s quarters that will produce the dragon-killers at a steady clip. There are higher risk/reward options in play too. If you manage to take out one of the wizard towers - which can be a challenge - then you can grab a high-value gem out of the rubble. Carrying the gem makes the dragon both slow and vulnerable though, so it’s best to grab it when you have a clear path to your hoard. Princesses can be captured and taken back to your loot pile and subsequently ransomed off for a handsome reward as well. Though, this will gain the eye of the local knights who will then mount an attack in an attempt to rescue her.
In addition to the afore-mentioned Treasure mode, there’s a Capture the Princess mode, which challenges you to be the first to ransom off 15 princesses, and the HOARD mode that is exactly as it sounds, i.e. survive as long as possible. Rounding out the package is a Co-Op mode that is strangely devoid of human cooperation. Basically, you and up to three other AI-controlled dragons need to band together to get as much gold as possible in 10 minutes. The lack of any multiplay whatsoever came across as a little strange to me as this kind of tabletop-esque style of game seems to be perfect for at least some 1v1 action.
As I finished up my time with the game, I came back to my original questions. How well is Hoard suited for the PSP? Happily I can say it fits in really well. The controls are simple and the gameplay is limited to short 10-minute bursts. The visuals, while not eye-popping, do a fine job of displaying the action with a slightly off top-down viewpoint. Secondly, will it keep us coming back for more? That will depend entirely on your tastes. With over 30 maps spread across four modes - each with three medals and plenty of reward badges to collect - there’s a lot to do here...as long as you don’t mind the solo-only experience and the wash-rinse-repeat gameplay. The difficulty ramps up, but you’re actions won’t change nor will your strategy vary too much. But as far as I’m concerned, for the $10 price point, those two caveats didn’t make much of an impact when you are looking for an inexpensive and enjoyable time killer...WITH DRAGONS!
+ Deceptively simple
+ Quick 10 minute games
+ Enjoyable gamplay...
- No multiplay
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Release Date : 2011/03/22
System : PSP
Publisher : Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer : Big Sandwich Games
Category : Strategy
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
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8.7 / 10