Joker's Revenge - Part real-time strategy, part tower defense action
There's a time and a place for well-refined, heavily polished games with big budgets and incredible levels of production value, but in 90% of cases, the flash game world is simply not it. This isn't to say that there aren't some remarkably well-designed and professional-looking flash games out there, but rather is a nod to the games that like to keep it old-school. By this, I mean simplicity, visible pixels, and balls-to-the-wall battles where matters are slogged out in a violent yet comical manner on a battlefield that lays betwixt the fortified walls of two opposing team's castles. Trutruka made a point of bringing us exactly this style of game in the original Nano Kingdoms, and by golly if the internet isn't now the host to the reawakening of the beastly now-series in the form of Nano Kingdoms 2: Joker's revenge. Scrambling for resources and swinging swords in the heat of battle, you'll be damned if you're going to let this Jovial Joker get away with his kidnapping japery.
A Plague O' Both Your Houses
Nano Kingdom 2 is as ever a simple-yet-satisfying game of real-time strategy with underpinnings of defense that stations you and your opponent's castle at opposite ends of the screen and requires you to destroy your opponent's castle before they manage to bring complete annihilation to yours. The format is pretty simple, really, with a little complexity thrown into the mix by way of limiting your progress by implementing a set of resources, the harvesting of which is a requirement for producing troops and applying various upgrades and improvements to your castle and your resource production centres. Farms provide you with the food needed to support your troops, lumber mills allow you to produce wood, and a foundry will allow you to produce metal. All of your resources are essentially limiting factors which you must overcome by way of resource production in order to produce a sufficient number of troops to win the battle.
Upgrade to Prosper
It won't surprise you in the slightest to learn that the game allows you to train different kinds of troops and apply a variety of upgrades as you make more progress through the levels. Your different troop types range from standard civilians that take a second to produce to warriors that are more heavily armoured and adept at attacking, right the way through archers and magic-wielding troops that all have the same purpose, which is to increase the power of your army and increase your chances of victory.
Upgrades are a must in any kind of real-time strategy game (or any game in general these days, but this is beside the point), and this one is most definitely no exception. Your castle can be upgraded to possess sentry-like towers that defend the perimeter when enemies get close, and your resource production buildings can also be upgraded, with other buildings like magic academies, stables, and workshops eventually becoming available in order to allow you to produce different kinds of troops and weapons. There are even a number of heroes to unlock as you defeat them in battle, each with two spells that you can spend your magic on. You haven't lived until you have seen Loki's Deception summon a giant hand that slaps down onto the battlefield, smashing any enemy within range.
Real-Time strategy Worthy of Your Time
Now, I've read reviews that have praised this game for its simple-yet-effective gameplay and ones that have been very generous with praise about the game's aesthetics and design. I will vehemently argue the former point, since the tricky management of resources and the building/upgrading of different structures and troops is frightfully addictive and more than just a little entertaining. I cannot support an analysis that bows down to the graphics of the game, however, since I found them to be relatively simplistic considering some of the polished, professional games out there that you would never even guess were based on flash and played in your browser (Kingdom Rush). I choose to see the basic design and clunky upgrade menus (where scrolling downwards may or may not work) as an endearing feature of the game that the solid gameplay overshadows by a long way. The upgrade system needs work, though, and the nonexistent professional polish mentioned in other reviews such as Bens Play World could be applied to make this a game worthy of hours of my time.