Recommended Tower Defense Games
Kingdom Rush: The Curse of Castle Blackburn - July 4th: More than just Independence Day
The Gamer's Holiday
For many out there, the 4th July is just another day of the year no different from any other day on the Gregorian calendar. For Americans, it is quite the opposite of just any other day, being the one day of the year that is dedicated to celebrating the day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence (which for many will have no more significance than being the thing that Nicolas Cage has to get hold of in National Treasure) was finally adopted. For gamers that truly appreciate their tower defense genre however, July 4th 2014 is a day that will be remember forever as one where perhaps some Kingdom Rush fans took the time to have a little look at Kingdom Rush: The Curse of Castle Blackburn, a free expansion to the original Steam-based Kingdom Rush that is available for PC. Sure Independence day is great and all, but does it allow you to build towers throughout a range of new levels in order to stop hordes of enemies from defeating you? The Curse of Castle Blackburn does, and it does so with all of the elegance and style that has become a standard for the series.
Classic Feel, New Content
It would be foolish to talk about The Curse of Castle Blackburn in complete isolation from the rest of the Kingdom Rush series; it is a level pack to the original Steam-based Kingdom Rush after all and as such is a continuation of said game's greatness. Instead, it is best to remind the unfamiliar or the on-off fans of what made the original so fantastic since this level pack is merely an extension of this brilliance with a few added extras thrown in (don't get me wrong, these additions are as welcome as double cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, but this game is as they say "standing on the shoulders of giants").
Looking at the gameplay in seclusion from the game's content, there is really nothing new to report here. It's the same old-yet-incredible Kingdom Rush, with archer, mage, artillery, and melee towers to build and upgrade into one of two final possible stages. The final stages of each tower type are extremely powerful but must be unlocked and also purchased with money made from killing enemies, each of which are damaged at different rates depending on the type of tower attacking them. Heroes such as Alric the Warrior or King Denas to utilise in your efforts. You'll also face bosses, earn achievements, and discover Easter eggs just like in the original Kingdom Rush. But there's more to the game than simply "more of the same" (even if this "same" is synonymous with "the best damn tower defense game in the world).
Shiny New Things
What the experienced Kingdom Rush fans who haven't yet played The Curse of Castle Blackburn will wish to know is what the expansion has to offer that the original didn't. The answer here is in the content. Firstly, you've got four new stages to play through including a pretty terrifying graveyard and eventually Castle Blackburn itself, a building that you must lift the curse from if you are going to succeed at completing the level pack in its entirety. It isn't just new terrain you get to explore however, since you're going to be sharing said terrain with a mixture of enemies old and new, with the latter including Fallen Champions, Witches, and also a boss fight with Lord Blackburn himself, who wields a mighty axe and has been corrupted by his previous desire to fight evil and is now enveloped in it. Content wise, The Curse of Castle Blackburn isn't exactly lacking, but developer Ironhide Games made sure that the gameplay was so fantastic that we were always going to want more.
It isn't our fault that the original Kingdom Rush game and its sequel were so damned addictive that a mere level pack can never satisfy us. It's best to simply blame it on talented developers Ironhide Games and be done with it. It's their fault for taking the tower defense genre and basically dominating it with a game whose detailed, cartoon-style art and animations are incredible, whose light-hearted humour is infectious, and whose gameplay leaves fellow tower defense games like Command Control looking like they were made by two ten year olds in the space of as many days. Though this game isn't enough to satisfy the craving for a true sequel such as Kingdom Rush 3, The Curse of Castle Blackburn is a wonderful game to bridge the gap until we can get more main-series Kingdom Rush in the future.
Old Speculation and Ideas Predating the Game's Release
Storm the Castle
Ever since the title was greenlighted by Steam, the feelings of anticipation are (to quote pretty much any ridiculous wrestling commentator ever) reaching “fever pitch”. If the original Kingdom Rush is anything to go by, then we are in for one hell of a tower defense ride with The Curse of Castle Blackburn, a whole new campaign for the title that will be available through Steam in the hopefully not-too-distant future. It seems that the anticipation for the game is bordering on apprehension, with fans already getting twitchy about the imminent release of Kingdom Rush: Frontiers, which even though was promised to us in Spring, is yet to rear its sexy head . As soon as the hype surrounding Frontiers dies down, the focus is going to be mainly on The Curse of Castle Blackburn and what it is going to offer us. Here are just a few ideas and reminders of what to expect in this highly- anticipated expansion.
While Ironhide Games are far from tight-lipped with information about their up and coming games, we only have an idea of a few features that are certainly going to be present in The Curse of Castle Blackburn. In a promo video from the developers on the steam website, we were told to expect 50% more content than the original, with new enemies, new bosses, and even an undead campaign that is sure to contain zombies of some kind (Walking Dead fans rejoice). Not only are we promised new content, but we also know that the game isn’t going to be a flash-port, but a “ground-up” re-working, and all this in beautiful HD. You can only imagine how impactful that high-definition capability will make the graphics and visuals of the game.
Tower Possibilities, Enemy Ideas
From the words of the developers and from the few videos available of the gameplay, we can extrapolate that there is going to be some new towers in Castle Blackburn, as well as some new enemies available because, well, the developers said so. Due to the comically dark and almost hammer-horror sound of the title, we are going to encounter some ghoulish, ghostly, and zombie- like enemies to go up against. We can expect the usual skeletons/skeleton knights as well as bats etc, but from the looks of it we’re going to have zombies, witches, demons, and all sorts of unsightly and unnatural creatures to take down.
Just as we will have new enemies, some new towers can also be expected. You would expect some noticeably darker magic similar to the necromancer towers of Kingdom Rush: Frontiers, as well as some sort of Dracula’s castle that can churn out supernatural troops in the fight against even more unnatural enemies. With the word curse in the title, we can definitely look forward to some sort of horrific curse to cast on our enemies with our magic towers. Barracks towers could also throw out some sort of undead army or if the allies are of the living kind, then some sort of exorcism crew, or even ghost-buster like troops.
You can see from the videos and screenshots that everything in The Curse of Castle Blackburn is going to be considerably darker, though it is almost certain that the game will retain its uniquely comical edge. You can pick out barren wastelands with rotting trees, graveyards, and more sullen environments that are zombie-filled and snow-covered. Of course, Castle Blackburn is going to have to feature in some way and will probably be the final stage. Whatever the content, you can guarantee that the HD capability of the game will result in some mighty fine visuals.
In the Meantime
Until the release of the game, or at least some more promotional material, we are stuck with speculation about the possible content of the sequel. To ease the all-too-familiar pain of imminent sequel eagerness we can always just go ahead and play a bit of Kingdom Rush: Frontiers , but it is certain that the wait for The Curse of Castle Blackburn will be equally as worthwhile as was the wait for Frontiers.