Back when Sam Raimi directed Army of Darkness, the third installment in the Evil Dead series, I doubt he truly grasped what a cult phenomenon the movie would become in later years. It’s a movie most people discover via word of mouth — or being forced to watch by a friend — and if you don’t find yourself quoting the movie at random moments for the rest of your life, well, then, there might have been something wrong with your head. For me, the pinnacle of Army of Darkness fandom was catching a midnight show at the Mayan Theater years ago. At one point, the entire audience was on their feet, arm raised above their head, quoting the “This is my BOOMSTICK!” portion of the speech. As Ash would say: “Groovy.”
With a subject matter this beloved and quirky, really, it was nigh impossible for Backflip Studios’ Army of Darkness: Defense to not be wildly fun and enjoyable. The game allows players to relive the castle defense scene in all its campy glory and yes it is totally awesome. Playing as the ever heroic Ash, players must defend the Necronomicon from the deadites, which come in waves, ala Plants vs. Zombies. Ash auto-fires at any enemy troops, which leaves you free to summon villages, rain down fire (your Chem 101 book taught you gunpowder, duh), and use specialized, upgraded shotgun blasts. That’s about as complex as gameplay gets and it is not only addictive, it is guaranteed to make you smile.
The controls are simple enough, with gamers touching either side of the screen to indicate where Ash should move, and the resource collection never feels oppressive or unnecessary. The upgrade system allows you to upgrade your peasants and swordsmen, and the micromanagement of such activities is actually enjoyable. You may also upgrade Ash’s weapon and health, and the system is designed as such to make you actually choose between abilities. Never in the game did I feel like my choices didn’t matter because I was going to have enough resources to get everything eventually anyway. This is the type of play that appeals to me, though.
The game features sound effects from the movie, including Ash’s one-liners (“Groovy,” “Wrong book,” etc.), and the classic “We’ll feast upon your soooouuuulss!” deadite lines. This is, admittedly, one of the features that really sells the game. Is it fun to play as Ash in the tower? Of course it is. But it’s even more fun with Ash in your ears. And on that note, let me say how much I adore a game that allows me to listen to my iPod while I play. Nothing aggravates me more than games that won’t allow you to listen to music while you play, so thank you very much Backflip! (Also, Deadmau5 goes quite nice with the game)
The only drawback to this game I see is that, if you’re not a fan of Army of Darkness (I’ll just assume you’ve not seen it yet and will recommend you do so. NOW), the humor may be lost on you, and the game might not be quite as totally awesome. To be honest, it’s very much in the same vein as “you vs. them” games currently available on the iPhone, and I imagine those who are unfamiliar with the series may be keen to write it off. However, if you’ve ever uttered the phrase “Shop smart, shop SMart,” or if you know the words (nickle? necktie? Definitely an ‘n’ word…), this game should be on your iPhone now.
- Release Date: May 12th 2011
- Genre: Action, Brawler
- Platform: iOS
- Developer: Backflip Studios
- Publisher: Backflip Studios
- ESRB Rating: T