reviews\ Jun 2, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Mytheon: Assault of Gaia iPhone review


Mytheon: Assault of Gaia is the kind of game that could have held my interest for life. Ever since Ninjatown arrived on the Nintendo DS in 2008, I have been determined to find a tower defense game of equal quality. But even those of a lesser quality can still be enjoyable, so long as the mechanics work and the battles are genuinely thought-provoking.

It is most unfortunate that while Mytheon nails the latter requirement, it completely misses the first. This is a game that makes up for its lack of eye candy with cutthroat battles that will defeat even the most avid strategy gamers. The battlefield is overflowing with deadly onslaughts and a one-chance-only survival system that forces players to flawlessly protect their bases or suffer the consequences. If the enemy hits your base, it’s game over. You can restart from the beginning of the stage, but after struggling with that process a couple times in a row, only the most diligent, most hardcore, and most tower defense-obsessed gamers will return.

I am one such gamer. I am the kind of person Mytheon was developed for. While racing to plant Blue Mana towers (to retrieve Mana, the official tower currency of the game), hoping to earn enough points to purchase a Ballista – or at least a giant wall – to halt the incoming bugs and beasts, I was invigorated by the harsh challenge the game put forth.

Most of the time, it felt like the AI (which was designed to crush nearly every strategy you can think of) could do no wrong. If you start off by purchasing weapons, you won’t have enough Mana to buy anything else. If you buy a wall or two, you may not have any weapons ready when those walls are breached. Consequently, you will eventually choose to buy as many Blue Manas as you can, hoping to increase your Mana points. But then you have to wait for the Mana to grow, and by the time it does, a monster may have destroyed everything you’ve worked so hard to build.

Mytheon may very well sound like an ultra-challenging nightmare, but it didn’t phase me; it only made me want to work harder and come up with a strategy to overcome the game and prove that I was superior.

Then the glitches came. Most players fully support a game that attempts to challenge us; many are even willing to accept a game that’s cheap, so long as it’s entertaining. But there’s no way to enjoy a game that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, causing unnecessary deaths and, inevitably, unwarranted frustration.

Similar to a turn-based strategy game, Mytheon’s playing field consists of a series of squares, allowing the player to touch an item (such as a Bomb, which can abolish enemies from any direction) and tap any square to place it. That was the idea, at least. In practice, Mytheon is depressingly hit or miss – 20% of the time, the item will appear in a square far away from the one you touched. Roughly 15% of your items will have to be selected twice because the game won’t register your first touch. This is in addition to the absurdly slow acquisition delay that causes every item to reboot (load) at varying speeds before an additional one may be purchased.

More than 10% of your interactions (with any part of the game) won’t be registered at all. All told, that means the gameplay mechanics will only work 55% of the time. The tower and enemy journals, which allow you to view the game’s monster and item lists, do not work at all. In either section you’ll find minions or towers lined up against what appears to be a coliseum. To view everything in the area, you’re supposed to be able to slide the coliseum left or right. Good luck with that – the controls are unresponsive to both light and firm touches, and when you do get the game to work, it stutters as painfully as Crazy Taxi on the Game Boy Advance.

Mytheon: Assault of Gaia was close to being a great strategy game. When the glitches start to cripple the entire experience, however, the game loses its playability. You might be amused for an hour or two, but its flaws prevent Mytheon from being more than a disappointment.


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