The battle between Autobot and Decepticon lives in through many mediums of media: cartoon; film; comic; video game. Transformers’ ubiquity has also stretched to the flash gaming sphere, and one of the better titles to enjoy is Autobot Stronghold. A tower defense game in format, Autobot Stronghold has you assume control of the Autobots, with view to defending your base against the nasty Decepticons. Given the quality-ceiling already looming over the game due to the limitations of flash-game design itself, Autobot Stronghold does pretty well for itself, drumming up some addictive tower-defense gameplay with enough of a mech theme to please any Transformers fan.
The gameplay here is the quintessential presentation of a tower-defense game. You view the action from a birds-eye perspective, with your stronghold containing the precious item that’s to be guarded – this sits on the left-hand side of the screen. Because this game has sponsorship ties with LG, the big machine we’re in charge of defending is called the LG LH50, and it’s got a finite amount of health that must be protected at all costs.
But what are we protecting the LG LH50 from? Well, it’s obviously going to be the Decepticons of course, who are the aggravators in this situation (as well as the transformers game/movies/lore in general). The Decepticons (though sadly no Optimus Prime included), in true tower-defense style, shuffle in from various directions on the screen, following a set pattern of movement as they move around the pre-existing paths on the screen. These paths eventually lead to your LH50 machine, so it’s up to you to do something about this before the Decepticons reach your machine and try to destroy.
This is where your Autobots come in. You have to place your Autobots at strategic locations on the screen. This is the manner in which you’ll defend your LH50’s health; your Autobots will attack automatically once they are placed and an enemy is in range. Tower-defense games fans will immediately notice the high degree of similarity this format has to the Bloons Tower Defense games. Such a comparison is warranted due to the genre they share, but it feels important to point out that the complexity of the strategy in Autobot Stronghold isn’t anywhere near as extensive as you would find in the mighty Bloons Tower Defense 5. There just aren’t as many variables to consider, or even as many levels to enjoy.
This obviously isn’t the usual run-and-gun Transformers-game explosion fest, so what can we expect instead? Well, the tower defense-genre framework is itself geared towards creating situations where careful planning and strategy is required in order to overcome the problem. This is also true of Autobot Stronghold.
Placing any old Autobot in any old location is going to get you killed rather quickly; there’s a definite strategy to the gameplay. To start with, you have four kinds of Autobot to choose from: Bumblebee, Jazz, Ratchet, and Ironhide Each of these Autobots has their own set of stats which makes them useful for specific situations. Their varying levels of speed, defense, range, and damage mean that certain bots should be placed where others shouldn’t. Bumblebee, for example, is speedy and responsive, yet has poor range and deals very little damage. Jazz on the other hand has admirable range, but his other stats are quite poor.
You also have to factor cost into the equation. Your Autbots cost a certain quantity of “Sparks” (the in-game currency here – don’t worry though: no microtransactions to speak of), and you only start with a limited quantity in the first place. Killing enemies earns you more sparks, which in turn allows you to protect yourself better against the increasingly-difficult waves of Decepticons.
Design and Execution
With the gameplay explained above, there’s now the design of the game to think about. It’s got quite a bit of polish for a flash game, and doesn’t look like your typical flat-textured fodder. It’s got a darkly mechanical feel to it thanks to its metallic textures, and the design of the individual robots is also very detailed.
As for the execution of the game, it can be said that its action is implemented very well. Though it’s a short game (only one level with 50 waves of Decepticons), the gameplay that does take place is very enjoyable, filled with strategy in spending as well as placement of your Autobots. It was designed by Josh James Hunt, in fact, a designer that should be credited and praised strongly for creating such a simple yet enjoyable flash game.