These castle versus castle games are all over the App Store. Some are fantasy based, a whole heck of a lot of them use stick figures, and one even uses puppets. The gameplay of these games are all strikingly similar: You have a set of units which cost a particular amount of whatever resource it is that the game uses. Once you stockpile enough of that resource to produce a unit, you tap the button, and said unit comes rushing out of your castle to battle to the death. (Or, if things are going your way, make it all the way to the other castle and destroy it.)

This also aptly describes the core gameplay found in Liv Games' Legendary Wars [$2.99], but there's so much variety and so many things to work towards that I've been having an absolutely fantastic time playing through it. The game begins with an entirely cliche fantasy setting of a kingdom in chaos, and you're in charge of collecting Sunstone fragments in attempt to rid the world of evil. The path the story takes you through involves fighting all sorts of different enemies on levels with varied objectives.

While many levels consist of the standard castle vs castle battle, Legendary Wars breaks up the monotony with levels where you'll control a single unit that play like a sidescroller, or battles where you're given an extremely powerful hero unit which must survive, and more. The actual castle vs castle fights are great too, as instead of simply sending an array of units to their doom, successfully surviving a battle requires a bit of strategy.

Battles begin with you dispatching a miner (aptly named "Miney") to your mine in the background to collect crystals. He saunters off to the mine, appears a few seconds later with a massive chunk of crystal in his hands, and you've got to tap it to collect it. Once you've got enough crystals to train additional units, much like other castle vs castle games, you tap the icon for said unit and it comes barging out of your castle. The main difference here is that there are three distinct lanes in the game world that you can spawn your dudes in and that enemies can come running down.

Units can be tapped and directly controlled, allowing you to make them change lanes, engage an enemy, or retreat back to your castle. This basic level of control actually gives you the power to do a surprising amount of micromanagement in your battles. For instance, if you've got a set of enemy archers incoming, moving your units to different lanes will avoid their attacks until they get within melee distance to start fighting. Enemies will change lanes too, so you've got to do some quick finger work to keep your army from getting pelted with arrows.

Similarly, the different units of your army compliment each other and must be used intelligently to win. Knights who do little damage but can take a beating need to be deployed in front of archers, who can bring the pain but quickly die if any pain is brought upon them. Killing enemies fills up a mana bar of sorts, and you're able to do a special attack for bonus damage by selecting a unit and tapping the button in the bottom corner of your screen. Oh, and while you're doing all this, you need to be constantly collecting resources from your miner(s).

Following a successful battle, you'll be able to return to your armory where you can upgrade various statistics for each of your units, as well as your castle itself. The rate at which these upgrades are unlocked seems to be perfectly tuned, as each battle affords you a small set of upgrades, while dangling that dreaded virtual carrot in front of your face to play just one more battle to soup your forces up even more.

There are endless defense, side scrolling, and survival game modes which can be unlocked which add replay value to the game, and the campaign mode itself is pretty massive. If you have it in your heart to play yet another castle vs castle game, Legendary Wars is an easy pick. Even if you've grown tired of these types of games, it does enough differently that it feels remarkably fresh, which is a real accomplishment in any over-saturated genre on the App Store. The only real down side this game has it that it doesn't come with Retina Display-friendly graphics. If you're playing on a newer device, the game (like most non-retina games) looks fairly blurry, but this didn't stop me from enjoying it.

TouchArcade Rating

  • crex

    Super FUN! Glad I got to test it! Without a doubt THEE best castle defense/side scroller game EVER!

  • TokyoHam

    Sorry, but there's no excuse for lack of Retina Display support. The iPhone 4 was announced seven months ago; developers have had AMPLE time to familiarize themselves with iOS 4.x and support these devices.

    • Guest

      I don't understand the sense of entitlement some people seem to have...

      • Guest

        Agreed. Way more entitled than they should be for a game with a price tag that wouldn't even cover the cose of a latte.

    • Yuval Gnessin

      The game has been in development for more than a year, so no, they haven't had ample time. Does more than a year sound surprising? That just goes to show how much work has gone into this game, and believe me it shows, mostly in THE GAMEPLAY.

      Also, I'm pretty sure the developers have announced releasing an iPad / Retina update in the coming months, so fear not.

    • Anonymous

      I understand this comment is 2 months old, but for the record and in case any new players wander upon this article... the game now supports retina, and looks amazing.

  • Adjusting

    "Similarly, the different units of your army compliment each other..."

    Hey! Nice Armour!

  • devodevo

    no work on 2 gen

    • Liv Games

      We have submitted a fix for 2nd Gen os 3.13. 2 gen with 4.0 works fine

  • T-town

    TokyoHam, if you use common sense, there is an excuse for lack of Retina Display. People do not have endless supply of expendable labor.

    Great game, love it.

    • Adams Immersive

      I play and enjoy non-retina games, and I think refusing a game on that basis alone is too harsh... but realistically, “endless” labor is not required for retina support. There can be a programming/optimizing challenge if the higher res taxes the device’s graphics ability and slows down things that would otherwise be smooth. That’s not always work to be taken lightly! But art creation isn’t somehow twice as difficult or anything.

      So I too take the lack of retina support as ONE factor among many when deciding between one game and another. Especially after so much time has passed, and the iPod too has gone retina.

      (Here’s hoping this becomes Universal, with retina AND iPad suppport!)

      • Jared Nelson

        Talked to the devs at Macworld today. Basically its 3 friends who created this game as a passion project in their spare time. Its been in development for over a year, which explains the lack of retina. Its not easy to redo hand drawn graphics for retina. That said, they did it! I saw a work in progress iPad version and its crisp and beautiful. I can't confirm this, but I imagine the higher res graphics will make their way into the iPhone version too at some point. But an iPad version is on the horizon.

        Just wanted to put the lack of retina into context.

      • Adams Immersive

        Sounds great! Especially with my phone being so full, I’d love to have it on my iPad.

        (Hand-drawn graphics don’t generally have to be re-done; they are generally built either as vector art, or scanner art, or bitmaps at higher res anyway. True, sometimes art is built pixel-by-pixel and would need a total redo for retina. But more often it CAN be easy. Well... nothing’s easy, but easier than a redo! You still have a lot of assets to prep and program for.)

    • TokyoHam

      Nor do consumers have an endless supply of spendable cash. In any case, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to expect support for a product that's more than halfway through its shelf life (given Apple's annual release cycle). But if you want to buy a brand new game that runs at 1/4 the resolution that your phone supports, knock yourself out.

      • Fred Fnord

        Because, as we all know, if the graphics aren't absolutely perfect, then the game isn't any fun.

  • GiHubb

    I think it might be worth a short article on the new Trenches update which added multiplayer support with voice chat. It's simply friggin' awesome! Trenches now has so many fun modes, versus and co-op and everything works without a hitch. With so many single and multiplayer modes now all for $1, this is a true steal. This update deserves more attention.

    • Jared Nelson

      You are like the king of mentioning other games in articles that are not for that game. But yeah, the trenches update is awesome 🙂

      • GiHubb

        Hey Jared, but note that I do this only if the game is from the same genre which makes it relevant to the article in a way. (For example: I didn't mention here that Mad Skill MX got an update, damn, just did, d'oh!)

  • Matt F

    People always looking at the shell, not caring about the insides anymore. The core gameplay is so good and the action so frantic you wont be able to even notice that is blurred. MUST BUY

  • E_Domina

    Archer sprites look a little like link

  • jd

    It looks fine on the iphone4 - i wouldn't say it's blurry. It's just not popping off the screen like it would if it did have retina support.

    I'm also wondering how much playtime Eli put into this, because it's not an easy game where you can rip through it quickly. Some levels took me several tries to proceed. That's one cool think about this game. You can't figure out one strategy and use it every level. You have to figure out how you can manipulate the strengths of certain characters to prevail.

    Anyway, the game is great and the unit balance is just right. I easily recommend.

  • Glaring_radiokid

    Great injustice that this game is pimped in the same week that the equally superb Paladog was released. Buy Paladog as well as this. Both fantastic.

  • Leegames

    If they made this at least Universal I would get it. Seems like a lot of fun, but I cannot take another x2 app on my iPad.

  • GiHubb

    Decided to give this game a spin and although I think this game is extremely polished, has great graphics (retina or not), nice animations, and fantastic presentation from the loading screen to the pretty menus, I just didn't like the gameplay. I found the micromanagement (or "babysitting") required with the units and lanes to be tedious, plus I found it hard to group units together to gain an advantage of fewer foes. I really wanted to like this game with the huge amount of effort that obviously went into it. But constantly needing to shift lanes for example and having to fiddle constantly with the units just turned me off. But others might like it for sure.

    • Yuval Gnessin

      Did you try using the Group Controls? The tutorial for them happens later on in World 1 - I know that when I played the game (and beat it) I primarily used group control, with very little micromanagement

  • Bobcat701
  • Zacattack

    So much fun! Love this game ... I never thought I would like a game as much as Plants vs Zombies, but Legendary Wars is becoming my favorite.

  • Mdken08

    I have the 1st GEN iPod. The game worked great, until I got to the 5th level. On 5th level it slowed down to a crawl, litteraly. Is this because of my iPod?

    • Anonymous


  • SuperD

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Legendary Wars Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 4