Go Home Dinosaurs is a port of Fire Hose Games’ popular 2011 PC Tower Defense game in which players must position their various gopher armaments along a winding path to keep the BBQ crashing dinosaurs from stealing their delicious steaks. It may be an absurd plot, but it is one that is just crazy enough to work and the folks at Fire Hose pull it off brilliantly.
The game takes a somewhat different approach to the tower defense genre, borrowing a number of elements of Plants vs. Zombies and even Tetris, but crafting them into a truly unique and rather charming gaming experience. In each of Go Home Dinosaurs‘ 60 levels players must try to stop advancing hordes of hungry Dinos using a very limited number of resources, as they march along the winding (and sometimes not so winding) paths laid out on a grid-like backyard toward your delicious steaks sizzling succulently on the grill.
Your most basic defense consists of getting your gopher positioned close enough to the advancing troops to throw rocks at them. More powerful defenses can be built using the handful of cards at the top of the screen. Each card represents a specific type of armament (usually adorable) and costs a certain number of coconuts to evoke. Fortunately coconuts (unlike money) grow on trees which will random appear on squares spread about the backyard (sort of like the sunflowers in PvZ). You simply tap the tree and your gopher will move to that square and collect the coconut. Defenses vary in both power and cost from a DJ that attacks dinosaurs from two sides with loud music, to a snowball throwing gopher which slows down enemies, to single-use items like a big barrel of TNT.
Once you have enough coconuts to purchase the desired defense, you simply drag the card onto the playing field wherever you want it. Each type of “tower” has a unique footprint (shaped much like a Tetris piece) so you have to plan out where it will fit onto a grassy area of the backyard. The game does a really nice job of showing you the attack range of any given weapon while you are placing it and rotating defenses to fit is super easy. However I will say that sometimes I did have a little difficulty selecting the correct card. Though overall the touch controls are perfect for this style of game and really intuitive.
As you progress through levels you will unlock a total of 18 defense cards and gain the ability to hold more cards. At the start of a level you get to decide which (and how many of each) you will equip your gopher with for the upcoming backyard battle, up to the designated hand limit. This reminded me a lot of the way PvZ allows you to select your defenses as well. I’m surprised we don’t see method used in more defense games as it creates a particularly nice element of experimentation and allows for more individual creativity. You’ll want to have a mix of cheap and more expensive ‘towers’ so that you can get defenses on the board more quickly. Like PvZ there is also a last ditch safety mechanism, but instead of lawn mowers, in Go Home Dinosaurs, it is a whole lot of explosives piled next to the grill (not very safe if you ask me) that will take out dinosaurs if they get too close. Though if you are trying to earn all three steaks on every level, relying on this defense will keep you from reaching this goal.
There are also boss levels which will certainly put your defense selecting skills to the test. Periodically during levels and at the end when you open the treasure chest, a mass of coins will explode on to the screen (this is quite the site to see). There is no real-money IAP in the game, but this in-game currency can be used to purchase costumes and other power-ups for your gopher.
Go Home Dinosaurs is a wonderfully executed game and the perfect example of how to deliver a Tower Defense game that is not only cute and inviting, but which challenges players to find an optimum strategy given a broad set of tools instead of hand-holding them with exactly what they need to be successful. Witty, charming and unique, Go Home Dinosaurs ranks right up there with some of the best Tower Defense games this platform has to offer. What a wonderful experience!