Battle of Maou: The Absurd Hero Assault is an adorable tower defense game from Petit Depotto and Active Gaming Media. The game is set in the same world as Petit Depotto’s previous indie title, Unholy Heights. Maou, the mustachioed main character, has decided to travel around the globe, but his trip is being interpreted as a campaign to take over the world. What results is a globe trotting tower defense game through four (so far) countries.
The first thing that will stand out is the quirky art style and music. This game is populated by characters with names like Wolfguy, Horsaurus G, and Angricheepy. Maou’s bedroom door has a mustache marking it, and the shabby motel where Maou and his monsters live has a hot air balloon floating in the front yard. You’re able to build a team of up to seven monsters. The monsters stay in rooms in the motel, and you can raise their stats by buying them furniture. Items range from refrigerators, futons, and bookshelves to ceremonial altars, coffins and spooky dolls.
The game’s visual style is excellent. Each level is distinct, well detailed and populated with unique enemies. In Japan, Maou’s fortress will be attacked by Samurai and, in Egypt, Sphinxes. Some enemy designs are pretty odd, though. When you reach Brazil, the enemies become soccer players kicking soccer balls, salsa dancers and women, with fruit in their hair, throwing bananas. I would have found it slightly racist if the entire game wasn’t just as zany. The game stops at Brazil for now, so, in the future, I hope to be in Ireland fighting leprechauns who throw pints of Guinness.
The appearance and placement of Maou’s tower changes from level to level. In Japan, you have to protect an old Japanese style castle, for example. Each level layout is also slightly different. Sometimes, the tower will be placed at the very end of a map, giving you one side to defend. Most of the time, it’ll be placed at the center, giving you several openings to watch.
Each monster and opponent has one of three different elemental attributes: fire, water or grass. Every enemy is color coded by element, which gives the player a chance to play a quick game of rock-paper-scissors before sending out the troops. Monsters are further divided into different classes: Short ranged, long ranged and defenders. It’s your job to strategically place the monsters in order to prevent enemies from damaging the tower. The tower has it’s own life bar and once it’s depleted, the enemies will start to carry Maou away. Once they carry him offscreen, the game over is over. Maou himself can also throw three types of elemental magic, which can be switched between on the main menu screen.
When a battle begins, a counter in the upper right corner of the screen begins to tick up. You can summon monsters once the counter reaches a certain number. The number you need depends on how powerful the monster is. Eventually the counter stops, and you have to level up your summon points to gain access to higher numbers. This counter must be watched and used carefully. If you use 12 points to summon a monster, you have to wait for it to count up again. At times, you could be completely at the mercy of this counter, while a horde of island people converge on the tower. To place the monsters, you tap the screen and then tap where you want the monster. When the monster is highlighted, a colored ring emits from the sprite indicating its attack range.
The sprites and levels are detailed enough so that the player can clearly see the enemies coming, however, there are times when there are so many enemies on the screen, the sprites begin to overlap each other. But if you let the battle get that far, it’s probably better to just start over. The levels with several openings may need a couple to tries in order to get to grips with where the enemies will pour in from.
Aside from buying fancy new TVs and pictures of ghosts for the monster’s rooms, you can also fuse stronger ones with weaker ones to increases their levels and stats. In order to get more monsters, one must play the obligatory Gatcha system and spend gold or diamonds to fill your ranks. Gold is distributed after each quest, and boss characters drop diamonds. While you can buy diamonds with actual money, I never felt like I had to. I was able to reach the end of the fourth world, and three-star every stage without having to spend any money. If you’re really strapped for gold, the game also gives you the option of watching some advertisements to earn gold or double your gold at the end of a quest.
The biggest flaw of this game, I think, is the inability to level up your monsters any other way than fusing. Perhaps it would make sense to give the monsters a little experience after each battle. With that said, some parts of the game are pretty difficult, and it gets frustrating when your only option is to grind for gold and buy weaker monsters for your stronger ones to devour. There's also items that can be used during battle, but I could not figure out how to use them.
While the game’s character building features are somewhat lacking the gameplay is solid and frantic. Each match can be played in a short time, making the game perfect for on the go play. The art style is wonderful to see, and the entire experience provides a strong foundation for a mobile game with a potentially long lifespan.
+ Excellent, well detailed art style
+ Fun, frantic game play
+ Easy to pick up and play in short bursts
- Lack of monster building features
- Not clear on how to use items
- Kind of Bare Bones