Review: Guard the earth (iPad) No, Don’t! Dick is Broken!

guardtheearth (3)Ah, the days of yore when as a young lad I would rummage through the bargain bin of my local game store looking for that hidden gem. I remember well those evenings: Armpit deep in shareware demos and European shovelware searching for that unappreciated little disc that held an exotic little morsel no one else had taken the time to savor. Maybe its only crime was having bad cover art. Maybe it was released at the wrong time of year. Maybe it was Grom: Terror in Tibet. Yeah, I played a lot of crap, but I also found a few new favorites as well. When it’s less than five bones, sometime you just gotta roll the dice.

Apple’s App Store captures much of the same feeling. It is an endless sea of import garbage and demos with nary a quality check in sight. Yet there are a great number of treasures floating around out there just waiting for discovery. Some nights are long and dull and the buy-in is frequently naught but the download time. Tonight's rummaging brings us an App Store gem titled “Guard the earth”. I guess Apple charges for capital letters these days (would anyone be surprised?) The description proudly proclaims “The game role-playing game. Game rich in content. Extremely challenging.” What’s new is version 1.1? “Add the game story.”

With a pitch like that, how can I not? I must Guard the earth!

The first thing I notice upon reaching the main menu is a cute little synth ditty playing. It’s a catchy, but simple tune. Shame it’s only 20 seconds long. And repeats. Constantly. Without stopping. Ever. It continues to play even when the game locks up. Which is frequently. One time I got different music! I’m not sure how and I’ve been unable to repeat the feat.

Starting a new game brings up the character select screen. Let’s see…

GuardtheearthHow can I resist and Egyptian named Dick whose weapons are… Gun. Dick is a fine Egyptian name! Dates back to the time of the Pharaohs. So how do I select him? Tapping on the name or picture do nothing. The arrow at the top simply flashes. The large middle one takes me back to the menu. Let’s try the arrow on the bottom. Well, that started the game as the female sword wielder “Intense”. I try a few more times, even rebooting the iPad completely, but to no avail. I am sorry to report that Guard the earth has a broken Dick.

Okey-dokey! Intense it is! The intro movie (I think that’s what it is) is composed entirely of a slide show featuring a mosaic of pictures of landmarks in Egypt interspersed with the occasional screenshot from the game. It will happily loop forever unless you tap the “Done” button in the upper left corner. Sadly, clicking the button takes us to the game proper. The instructions stay on the screen for exactly half the time you need to read them. Fortunately, I managed to grab a screenshot:guardtheearth (6)

Um… Okay. Well, “boos!” is a bit of a mystery, but “defend the tower. Against all incoming monsters” I get. Kinda. Having “You must guard this” printed on the tower also helps.

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Guard the earth actually plays a lot like games in the MOBA genre like League of Legends or Demigod except without other players. Or… ya know, quality. There are 3 streams of baddies that come marching towards the tower, bent on its destruction. Taping on the screen deploys a blue circle that your avatar will walk directly towards. And I do mean directly. Neither obstructions such as buildings nor attacking enemies will sway Intense from her course. Once she arrives at the specified location, Intense will move towards any enemy within a half-screen radius and attack automatically. Curiously, after defeating an enemy she will then proceed to walk towards where the dispatched baddie came from to eliminate the next creep in the lane. And the next. Forever. She will blissfully march through an entire army of killbots firing their nearly imperceptible weapons at her. The only enemy she’s after is the one that spawned immediately after her last victim. Always. She’ll actually continue to fight all the way back to the enemies’ spawn point where she’ll await the next hapless robot to come wandering through the portal, totally unaware of the 2 other lanes full of evil robots marching on the tower.

guardtheearth (7)The only other control for your character is some manner of super power. When tapping the button, Intense will blast out a circle of horrendously low res effects. This has the effect of lowering nearby enemy health to about 20%. Doesn’t matter if they’ve taken damage or are fresh of the line, their health is now 20%. Usually. Sometimes it does nothing. There is one nasty little trick to getting this ability to activate: Intense cannot be moving or attacking to activate this power. Considering her penchant for walking off after any enemy even remotely close to her, this button almost never works.

What about that role playing action we were promised? Well, there are some numbers at the bottom. Sometimes they change. They seem ridiculously large enough to be a from a bad Asian RPG. And the story? Well, I’m assuming that the infinite loop of photos showing Egyptian relics and pyramids that passes as an intro is what they’re referring to, so…check? What about “Extremely challenging”? Yes! In the number of times I’ve played I have never passed the fourth wave. Because the game locks up before that. Except for the music. Maybe the help menu has an idea!

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Yeah, shoulda known…

Obviously, Guard the earth is a total train wreck of a piece of software. It is ugly and incomplete. The parts that are complete are terrible when it runs without locking up. It stands as a testament to the fact that the Apple App Store has no quality control whatsoever. Guard the earth is an embarrassment to ones and zeroes everywhere.

Guard the earth is exclusively for the iPad and available via iTunes for $1.99

Reviewer Rating: 1/5 Stars: Broken Dick 1star

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