When you truly adore a game, sequels can be a scary thing. Sure, it's more of what you love—but what if they mess it up? What if they abandon all the things you love for the sake of novelty? Well, Defender Chronicles [$1.99 / $2.99 / $4.99 (HD)] fans, let us put your fears to rest. We've had a chance to spend some time with Defender Chronicles II, and it seems to have everything the original had to offer. And every little bit of it is bigger, better, and sexier.

I spent the summer of 2009 consumed by the original. I had a brand new 3GS and pages of games, but Defender Chronicles - Legend of the Desert King was the one that devoured my time. Its mix of vertical tower defense and RPG conventions was completely irrestistable, and Gimka Entertainment and Menara Games propped it up with massive updates that added to its already substantial content. Defender Chronicles II is looking like it will contain that same potential for time investment, so you might want to clear your schedule in advance.

This game is leagues beyond its predecessor in terms of visual appeal, and that's an achievement—as we pointed out way back in our review, Defender Chronicles was a looker in its time. But now every unit is more detailed and every animation is more fluid. And crisp—Retina support is in for iPhone, though apparently not for iPad. The game lives up to the rose-colored vision you may have of the original, but it's much more refined, more up-to-date.

The gameplay has been similarly preserved. You'll still spend your time turning flags into guilds and upgrading them through tiers of units, archers to rangers, squires to cavaliers. Strategy seems more important than ever before, with enemy units that take advantage of every potential weakness in your defense. Height and range are the biggest considerations as you scroll around massive, multi-tiered 2D maps. There are quite a few of those this time around, and they hit an almost Escher-esque level of complexity pretty quickly.

There isn't much that's changed outright, really. Voice actor George Ledoux returns to impress us with his Sean Connery impression, though he also pulls off an impressive lizardman. Heroes Melwen and the General return, but this time they're accompanied by two new friends: Lovell and Elwyn, an archer and priest. The brand-new story of the heroes and their defence of Athelia against the Orcs and Forsaken is told through gorgeous comic-book cutscenes once more.

From our brief time with the game, it really seems like you're going to be able to put in a ludicrous numbers of hours. There's so much here for the player that wants to go deep, with heroes to level up and customize, hundreds of artifacts to locate and five difficulty levels and game modes to work through. The difficulty curve also feels a bit steeper, so if you're already familiar with the game you shouldn't be underwhelmed. If you're feeling particularly cocky, you'll be able to challenge yourself with a huge list of Game Center achievements and leaderboards.

Ultimately, it seems like Defender Chronicles II will be the perfect sort of sequel. It updates already excellent gameplay for a new generation of devices, and brings in all sorts of improvements in the process. It's hard to imagine any Defender Chronicles fans being disappointed, and folks that are new to the series should be in for a treat. We'll be taking a closer look at the game over the next couple weeks, and we'll be back with our review after it hits the App Store on May 24th. In the meantime, the developers are posting regular previews in our discussion thread, so take a peek if your appetite isn't already whetted enough.

  • Jo.

    Instant buy

  • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

    man... I'll have only 10 days to play the heck outta diablo 3... then this should occupy my free time for good...

  • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

    oh yeah, and game center achievements!!!!!

  • Adams Immersive

    I’m frightened! I never beat the original. Not quite.

    And now I feel compelled to go back and keep trying...

  • araczynski

    the ipad portion is leaving me quite limp, will wait to see if they bring that up to more current standards visually.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/NissaCam Nissa Campbell

      Unfortunately I don't have a retina iPad to try it out on, but according to the team it isn't *officially* retina but supports retina resolutions. I'm not clear what the distinction is there, maybe they can clarify.

      • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

        iphone 4s and ipod 4th gen both have "retina" displays, the new ipad also has it but with higher resolution. so it's not about retina support but about the new ipad's resolution

      • NissaCam

        Err, yes. Sorry, I was referring to the new iPad specifically.

      • Plast2

        Well, don't fret, because the game looks stunning on the iPad3. Every unit, item and map is just beautiful on it. I've been playing mostly on the iPad3, even though I have it installed on my iPhone 4s as well. - But once you see it on the big Retina Display, it's hard to put it down ;)

      • araczynski

        basically 'supports' implies everything should scale properly, but use the same textures as from the phone, just stretched.

        better than nothing, but i think they'll get lots of complaints about it at this point in the game.

      • Plast2

        Not quite. Some of the artwork was made before the resolution to the new iPad was published, but they are still larger than the iPhone resolution. Mostly you won't see it, and it definitely won't feel stretched on the iPad3, even though some artwork is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zallman.shedlock Zallman Thoreau Shedlock

    Can't wait!!

  • https://me.yahoo.com/rekzkarz#a0df5 rekzkarz

    Looks awesome -- but it also looks like the same game, just more awesome-r.

    I guess I was expecting some real tweakin -- altho I loved the original, don't get me wrong.

    Wonder how big this one is?   That's a big flaw for iPhone market IMO -- making games > 500meg.  I mean, I take videos on my phone & leave 'em forever!  I don't have gigs free...

    Anyway.

    • MidianGTX

      Going by the current state of the beta, under 200MB.

  • motorlatitude

    I've never played the original, but people seemed to have liked the original maybe I should go get it looks cool :D

  • http://twitter.com/SquishedMitten Tyler Piderit

    Just started playing the first game actually and I am addicted! So much fun!

    I was weary of some of the reviews saying the game didn't work for them and the such, but it loaded right up for me on my 4S and I've already played for 3 hours. This sequel looks like it will tickle everyone's fancy as well.

    May is a good month for gaming on multiple platforms :)

  • SirDarkened

    There are no crashes in the first game , people dunno what they are talking about... -.-

  • Siddharth Manickasundaram

    Kingdom Rush remains my go to game for TD .. Hope this is as great as that .. Not sure if I should start playing the original Defender Chronicles now or wait for the sequel to release ..

  • zachawry

    Why no app in Japan store?!?

    • Plast2

      It won't come out until May 24th. :)

  • Plast2

    iCloud will now be added to the first release as well :)

  • Tower Defender

    Take my money already!