Spoids (Second Chance with the Chick)

I reviewed Spoids back in April and it aggravated the ever-loving shit out of me so much that I wrote an editorial on game difficulty in part because of it.  Well, Spoids is back, all patched up and ready to kick your ass some more.  Why?  Because all the changes implemented are so miniscule in their scope that you’ll hardly notice them.  Since I had a fairly big list of complaints last time, I’ll do what I’ve done in the past and go over every concern one by one.

Original: The enemies are too bullet-spongy.

New Build: The enemies are still too bullet-spongy.  I can spam whole sections of the board with all sorts of firepower and the fuckers still can walk through entire hallways with minimal damage.  The bosses are allegedly less tough, but it doesn’t really seem that way in practice.  The bosses that unleash five extremely fast-moving enemies when they die are still able to absorb entire rows of gunfire without so much as blinking.  They’re usually pretty close to an exit when they die, leaving no time for your defenses to stand a reasonable chance at stopping half the shit they drop, no matter how many things you put to slow stuff down.  Speaking of which, the slowdown stuff is ironically too slow to activate.  When the fast-moving “zoomers” show up, they often cruise a few spaces past the slow-down-thingies before they actually do yield.  We call this “Getting a Yellow Light in California Syndrome.”

God this stage pissed me off. Fucking gloriously addictive piece of shit.

Original: The flying enemies and their associated tower are way unbalanced.

New Build: Efforts were made to fix this, but they failed.  The only tower that attacks flying creatures is the Homing Missile.  Before, they cost $125 a unit, which was way overpriced for a tower that is useless against the vast, vast, vast majority of enemies.  The guys at AirWave took this advice to heart and discounted the tower that is useless against most of the enemies and slow to react to the ones it is effective against to a generous $110.  Gee, thanks guys.  Meanwhile, you still need to occasionally couple them with radar towers, which cost $50.  So the discount you gave us isn’t even enough to make a down payment on one of those.  Hell, it’s barely a third of the cost of the weakest offensive tower in the game.  Why not just suck the fillings out of my teeth while you’re at it?

Meanwhile, the flying guys are allegedly weaker and attack less frequently.  I will admit that the flyers are  slightly more tolerable, but they still are overpowered compared to the price and effectiveness of the towers that can attack them.  A problem with Spoids in general is the important, single-functional towers are slow to react to everything.  The radar stuff takes too long to make the invisible enemies visible.  The slow-down stuff takes too long to slow down the zoomers.  The missiles take too long to fire on the flyers, and they don’t put out enough bullets or fire often enough.  I once again spammed entire sections of the screen with the worthless-against-99%-of-the-enemies missile towers and radar and still had entire strings of flyers just shrug them off and cause damage.

Original: Money doesn’t accumulate fast enough.

New Build: It still doesn’t.  In a game that has so many enemies that require special, non-offensive towers just to open up their vulnerability, you really don’t get enough resources in Spoids.  In the stages where enemies hit you from two different starting points, you often have to pick and choose which side to “let go of” and hope you can catch up later.  You often can’t.  When guys who phase in and out of view are around, you have to set up radar towers, which are costly and don’t fire.  The phasers are every bit as spongy as everything else, so you often have to set up multiple towers just to pick off the front line.  When the zoomers come in, not only do they take more damage to kill than Jason Voorhees but they run faster than your towers can shoot.  To have a chance, you have to put the slowdown towers in, but they come at a cost of $100.  However, their range of effectiveness is small and they don’t activate fast enough, meaning that most of them will receive minimal damage.  You have to cover every corner with the slow-down-thingies, but if you do that you won’t have the money for guns.  It sucks that the tougher enemies don’t pay in proportion to how much they cost to kill.

Don’t count on being able to cover the map like this during story mode. Not even close.

Original: The game cost 240 Microsoft Points.

New Build: The game costs 80 Microsoft Points.  Thus I now feel comfortable recommending Spoids.  For all of its faults, and those faults are massive, Spoids is every bit as fun and addictive as tower defense games can be.  If you’re into these things, that is.  Haters of the genre won’t be converted by it.  But, I liked it.  Don’t get me wrong, if I ever encounter the developers I might give this whole “strangle a fellow human being” thing a test drive, but it will be because I liked the game.  Just not as much as I could have.  AirWave Games has talent.  I just wish the next time they say they’re going to fix a game, they do more than drop the price.  Which was admittedly enough to sway me to say “okay, it’s worth buying” but that’s not the point.  I’m not even sure if the game is better.  I did beat it this time, but it still took me over a dozen tries to finish the 8th and final stage.  After that many tries, you don’t feel a sense of satisfaction.  You feel a sense of “thank Christ I don’t have to start all over with it again.”  Games should never leave you feeling that.  Ever.  They’re entertainment, not dental surgery.  Still, Spoids is one of the most polished looking games on the market, and it’s very playable.  And it’s made by some really cool developers whose necks I’m hoping will be very wringable.

Spoids was developed by AirWave Games

IGC_Approved80 Microsoft Points have always wanted to try the Vulcan Nerve Pinch on someone in the making of this review.  Oh Mommy, come here for a moment. 

Spoids is also available on Desura for $2.99.  This version is unverified by Indie Gamer Chick.  The XBLIG version is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

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3 Responses to Spoids (Second Chance with the Chick)

  1. Pingback: Spoids « Indie Gamer Chick

  2. Roby says:

    Let me clear up a few misnomers here.

    1. “The only tower that attacks flying creatures is the Homing Missile.”
    A: Pulse Lasers, Burst Launchers, and Homing Missiles all attack fliers. Homing Missiles are definitely the most effective but, to disregard the previous two could be a fatal flaw when playing this game.

    2. Radars are more useful beyond revealing Faders and Ghosts. Radars increase the range of neighboring towers that are inside its scan field. So even if you are not having trouble with Faders, placing a Radar next to 5 or 6 other towers can make those ones even more effective. Radar range was also increased in this update. A $50 price for revealing Faders and increasing tower ranges is not much.

    3. EMPs can actually make the game almost too easy if you use them properly. When doing our balance testing, we made sure not to utilize EMPs in their most effective manner to emulate how a first time player might use them. The price is set to what we feel is appropriate as flooding the stage with a bunch of these would dramatically make the game too easy. If you end up disregarding EMPs or inefficiently use them, this could again be another cause that leads to failure during gameplay.

    4. There was actually quite a handful of things done to address balancing. Homing Missile towers cost $15 less (12.5% reduction in price), they do 5% more damage, fliers have about 5% less health, and we send much less fliers at a time now. There were waves where we would sometimes send 10 to 16 fliers at a time and those were trimmed to 8 or 6. We even increased the time between each wave on the later levels to make things less chaotic. Boss spoids including Transporters had their health dropped. Radar ranges were increased. Levels were scanned for unfair waves (Zoomers taking unfair shortcuts, etc) and those were removed. We send indicators that show which path the next wave is taking. Useful tips are displayed to the player on the Mission Failed screen. All of these changes combined are very noticeable. Getting even more dramatic with the balance nerfing would risk the game becoming too easy.

    5. “It sucks that the tougher enemies don’t pay in proportion to how much they cost to kill.”
    A: The money they give scales pretty closely with their strength. For example: Squawk pays $2, Spinners pay $5, Enforcers pay $50.

    6. “The enemies are too bullet-spongy.”
    A: This is a tower defense. The waves will get increasingly harder as they progress. Later levels you are pushed to Wave 70 sometimes and yes, they are going to need more fire power to stop them. As with every TD game, you will eventually lose because the enemies will absorb all the firepower and still get by since they continuously get stronger. This is the nature of the beast and why imploring meaningful strategies are necessary.

    Additional Comments:

    We did other things with this update to improve controls, address issues that Alan Charlesworth brought up (Unlimited Wave mode not being communicated well), as well as quite a bit of balancing and other changes. You make it sound like the only thing we did was this $15 price reduction on the homing missile and a price drop to 80 MSP. We understand that the original release had some things that needed addressing, including difficulty. We took that feedback to heart and put out a better game that we fully stand behind now.

    Let me put it this way, the later levels in Defense Grid are significantly harder than the later levels in Spoids now. Defense Grid was a well received game by the public and tower defense players. You’d be wrong in thinking that I didn’t fail a myriad of times in those later levels in Defense Grid. However, that’s what made the game fun. Never once did I blame the developers of Defense Grid because they “made it too hard” and I couldn’t beat a level. Each level presented a different challenge to overcome. And with these strategy style games, you are supposed to reanalyze everything after a failure and ask yourself “What went wrong? And how can I combat that?” These games are as much a pseudo puzzle game as they are a TD game.

    You often find the problem in your gameplay strategy (my defenses are too split, the fliers are getting by, etc.) but you never seem to ask the question “How can I prevent that? What can I change?”. We even had a guy in Peer Review tell us he beat the game while on the phone and didn’t even realize it and wished the game was longer. We had another guy in Peer Review tell us it was the best game he had played on XBLIG. I thought we did an accurate job with the balancing.

    I can understand if there was an issue with controls or something was improperly communicated and being frustrated by that but, we presented all the tools needed to succeed and more than communicated how each tool works.

    I’m sorry about this long comment but, I don’t agree at this point with the points made in the review. Again, we had other people (that we’ve never met) think it was a blast and had no problem with it whatsoever. I respect that this is how you feel but, I thought I would add my thoughts to this as well.

    • I respect that you articulated the points so well. I can say that I spent hours with the game in both its original build and current one and I swear, I didn’t notice any difference for the most part. I would like to counter point a few of your statements.

      1. In response to the flyers and the homing towers, I didn’t realize that other towers shot at them. I would like to point out that I had the screen coated with a healthy layer of radar towers and pulse cannons, plus homing towers right along the flyers paths, and they still made it through in great numbers, so you can’t really blame me for not realizing that other towers shot at them too.

      2. Because I preplanned for the ghosts, I had radar towers strategically placed all over the screen in places where I planned to shoot at the things. In other words, I built them next to towers. Again, you don’t really realize that they are “boosting” other towers, because the amount of damage the enemies take is miniscule, and because towers all seem (maybe it’s just perception, but I’m not sure) slow to react to enemies.

      3. I had EPMs spread out, again where I planned on shooting stuff. I spaced them out in ways where they should have in theory slowed down waves of dudes and kept them slow while they got picked off. They didn’t. The zoomers could still get well past their “range” before they slowed down (and yes, I had radar towers right there), so the effect of the EPMs was minimal on them. The guys the carrier dropped would take off like a bat out of hell as soon the carrier exploded, and often wouldn’t be effected by the EPMs. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t notice it.

      4. I wish I had better articulated that I had a lot of fun with Spoids regardless of my problems with it. I never claimed to be good at Tower Defense, and maybe these games are made to be painfully difficult. I just felt (and still feel, sorry, I do) that the game has balance issues.

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