It’s a Fire Hose Games’ title, so you know two things straight away: it’s going to be silly, and tetris-style puzzle pieces will have a role to play. In Go Home Dinosaurs!, a tower defense title about protecting your BBQ from dinos, the former is a given and the latter? Well those puzzle pieces are the tower footprints, which can make tower construction perfectly tricky.
Waves after wave of gauche dinosaurs are crashing a neighborhood BBQ hosted by the local mammalian populace. In most TD games you’re like the hand of god, but in GHD you have an avatar: you control the friendly neighborhood gopher. This industrious fellow can tunnel under the game board to pop up and harvest coconuts (currency) from trees, as well as function as a portable tower. He will attack from any place on the board, and is generally a very helpful guy.
I’m not sure which mammal is responsible for tower design, but they’re a little willy-nilly in their construction with no regard to uniformity! Early on in the game the towers are made of simple shapes, like the 1x2 basic guerrilla tower that you can squeeze in pretty much anywhere. Level 2 introduces the laser tower, and you begin to see the dastardly Fire Hose scheming: the laser tower is a large “L” that fires along only two directions, and is fixed at that stubborn 90 degree angle. Throw in Level 3’s bulky Meteor Magnet (because you need to wipe the dinosaurs out to extinction!) and you’ve got definite land resource management issues - and piecing the puzzle together gets even more fun.
It is a very early build, but Fire Chief Eitan Glinert assures me that the fundamental gameplay is there, and staying. Things that we didn’t get to see but are already in the works include a Tesla coil style lightning tower, and the bulk of the multiplayer scheming. If a Tesla coil seems like overkill, you either haven’t fought dinosaurs, or tasted good BBQ before. After one successful round you get to choose a new card for your next upgrade like slow, an amped-up laser, or trees that yield more coconuts. You want plenty of ripe coconuts to purchase your towers with, so let the coconuts grow before shaking them all down! These upgrade cards will be part of the multiplayer interaction as you trade them with other players for different upgrades.
The dinosaurs turn into bacon, steaks and explosions of feathers when they perish in the face of your mighty Tower Defense skills, and while this is an early build the graphics are bright, engaging and clear. There are funny messages that crop up along the bottom, though Glinert said that these are largely for those folks watching at PAX - which I think is for the best because during gameplay I didn’t get to read them, and their location competed with the bottom section of the level.
The mouse controls are very accessible, and while playing GHD I noticed something really cool: the crowd of people lining up and sitting down to play were equal parts grown-up and kid. Fire Hose Games could have set up lines for “Under 12” and “Over 12” at each of their stations! Playing next to a brother-sister duo while they went to town destroying dinos, I realized, “Wow, here is a tower defense game that my 7 year old nephew and i can fight over!” That is pretty awesome, especially since I need to work on my sharing.
With a tentative Spring 2012 release window, the hope is for the BBQ to come to PC, consoles and iOS. Look for my interview with Eitan Glinert tomorrow!