Notable Japanese developer Square Enix has recently released their second game to the iPhone and iPod Touch: Vanguard Storm [App Store].

The company has previously released a tower defense game called Crystal Defenders. While the first version of that game received a lot of criticism for a poor interface, many of those who stuck with the game claim it is one of the best tower defense games in the App Store. Crystal Defenders has since been updated to version 2.0 which addresses the awkward interface issues of the original release.

Their latest release Vanguard Storm continues to use the Final Fantasy characters/jobs but introduces it in the latest of their "defensive simulation" games.

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The game is presented on an 8 by 4 board and divided down the middle. Your mission is to defend your half with a specific set of characters with their own strengths and weaknesses. The attacking units come in from the left and are trying to cross your side. If even one of the enemy makes it all the way past your half, then the game's over.

Your team of defenders are made up of characters with different abilities: soldiers can only attack the space in front and front-diagonal to their position. Archers can shoot distance but only diagonally. Black Mages can do range damage in the four spaces ahead of them. Later in the game, non-combat characters need to be used to assist. These include those that can heal nearby characters or augment their attack abilities.

Gameplay is turn-based and involves rapid shuffling of players around on the board to position their attacks most efficiently while also avoiding incoming damage. Each character has a number of hitpoints represented by a health bar above them. A character can be killed which handicaps you for that wave only. The game is divided into 10 locations on a map with multiple waves each. Successfully defending against all the waves allows you to progress to the next map location.

The best feature of the game is the easy pick-up-and-play nature. Many turn-based strategy games can have an intimidating learning curve, but this one can easily be picked up by any casual player. They've also provided a Lite version [App Store] which provides a good tutorial to start.

The game itself seems to offer a fair amount of content, but may suffer from the lack of user-adjustable difficulty settings. The game starts at a one-size fits all level of difficulty. I personally found the game to suffer from being "too easy for too long" while others seem to be struggling with the early levels. The game does apparently unlock a "hard" mode once the normal game is complete which should add more gameplay for those naturally adept at the game. Note that there are some reports of erratic save-game issues in this early version.

Overall, however, this represents a solid and fun casual strategy game that is accessible for even novice players.

App Store Link: Vanguard Storm, $4.99, Vanguard Storm Lite, Free

TouchArcade Rating

  • joni

    i have it.. one of the best

  • joni

    i have it.. one of the best

  • Funipod

    "If even one of the enemy makes it past your half, then the game's over."

    Actually, it's only game over when the enemy makes it the far right squares., not your half.

    • arn

      that's what I meant. "past" not "into". I'll clarify.

      arn

      • thebleeptruth

        LOL! @Funipod

  • Funipod

    "If even one of the enemy makes it past your half, then the game's over."

    Actually, it's only game over when the enemy makes it the far right squares., not your half.

    • arn

      that's what I meant. "past" not "into". I'll clarify.

      arn

      • thebleeptruth

        LOL! @Funipod

  • Wulfsige

    From what I've played of the Demo I liked but from what I've been reading it isn't paticularly a long game. I would love to see someone use close to the same concept but a indie company that will add new content to the game which I doubt Square Enix will.

  • Wulfsige

    From what I've played of the Demo I liked but from what I've been reading it isn't paticularly a long game. I would love to see someone use close to the same concept but a indie company that will add new content to the game which I doubt Square Enix will.

  • Kia

    I really liked it, though it was a bit difficult for me. I also don't like how frantic it is to shuffle your characters around before a turn passes. There seems to be an extremely low margin for error and an equally extremely short amount of time allowed to get into position. Too quick for me. =

  • Kia

    I really liked it, though it was a bit difficult for me. I also don't like how frantic it is to shuffle your characters around before a turn passes. There seems to be an extremely low margin for error and an equally extremely short amount of time allowed to get into position. Too quick for me. =\

  • Thaurin

    Just port one of the Final Fantasy games over already!! You know you want to!!

  • Thaurin

    Just port one of the Final Fantasy games over already!! You know you want to!!

  • Noah

    Purchased the game yesterday. Beat all 10 levels by this afternoon.

    After which, a Hard Mode opens up... which is more about HP management than anything else. I played through the first 4 levels in Hard Mode before I realized it's just more of the same.

    Worth maybe 2.99, not $4.99. Just saying.

    Fun game, just very short (and quite easy).

  • Noah

    Purchased the game yesterday. Beat all 10 levels by this afternoon.

    After which, a Hard Mode opens up... which is more about HP management than anything else. I played through the first 4 levels in Hard Mode before I realized it's just more of the same.

    Worth maybe 2.99, not $4.99. Just saying.

    Fun game, just very short (and quite easy).

  • thebleeptruth

    Definitely considering picking up the game especially being a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics (Why the hell haven't they made that kind of game for the iPod yet?!). But I'm a bit disappointed with the available jobs. I think it would have been cool had there been a summoner, or maybe even "hero" jobs, but the game doesn't appear to have a story to support the presence of heroes. Anyway I'm pretty sure the price will stay forever at 4.99 so waiting for a price cut is not advisable. I'm still waiting for a real turn-based strategy game reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics and Front Mission 3. It perfectly suits the iPhone/iPod Touch. In fact there should be as many TD games as turn-based strategy games on the App Store. Those 2 genres handle quite the same and are perfect for the device.

  • thebleeptruth

    Definitely considering picking up the game especially being a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics (Why the hell haven't they made that kind of game for the iPod yet?!). But I'm a bit disappointed with the available jobs. I think it would have been cool had there been a summoner, or maybe even "hero" jobs, but the game doesn't appear to have a story to support the presence of heroes. Anyway I'm pretty sure the price will stay forever at 4.99 so waiting for a price cut is not advisable. I'm still waiting for a real turn-based strategy game reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics and Front Mission 3. It perfectly suits the iPhone/iPod Touch. In fact there should be as many TD games as turn-based strategy games on the App Store. Those 2 genres handle quite the same and are perfect for the device.

  • Chinito77

    May I ask if there is a plot or ending of sorts? Crystal defenders is pretty dry and aiming for top score without actually clearing a level gets old.

  • Chinito77

    May I ask if there is a plot or ending of sorts? Crystal defenders is pretty dry and aiming for top score without actually clearing a level gets old.