Relevant links: complete version, enhanced edition

First off: do not confuse this with Dungeon Defenders, with an s. That is a 3D multiplayer game with some vaguely tower defense styled trappings, and which has gotten a lot of press. This is a straight tower defense game, done in flash, which never got any press.

dungeon defenderThe shtick is that you’re a villain in your lair with a bunch of pesky “heroes” coming to get you, so you set up defenses and traps to stop them. You lair is underground, so you can also dig tunnels and find treasure and precious ore.

It’s not the most polished game, and graphically it’s a little simple, but there are a few things I still like about this one: the digging mechanic is great. It allows for pathing manipulation and a means of earning bonus resources and a way to diversify the level design, all in a single mechanic.

This is also the first tower defense game that I know of which implemented melee units for stalling enemies in a particular spot. I’d never claim that it was the first, I play a lot of tower defense games but my knowledge is by no means complete. Never the less, I give this one credit for implementing that mechanic three years before Kingdom Rush popularized it.

Finally, there’s the protagonist unit which functions much like a hero unit in, again, Kingdom Rush. That’s fine and all, but what I really like here is the fact that the protagonist gets equipment (i.e.: loot) over the course of a level. This can really add something when you’re focused on defense but also running a side campaign to reach that tantalizing treasure chest juuust a little out of reach.

There are two versions of this. The original version is here, and is complete and fun. There’s also a Dungeon Defender Enhanced Edition with some extra features, along with some paywalled content. Which you decide to play is mostly about how tolerant you are of microtransactions, though it’s worth pointing out that the Enhanced Edition also has online saving. I find that to be pretty valuable with flash games.

I give this one credit party just for being so early on the scene. Curator Defense was released in 2005, just shortly after the tower defense genre came into being. To put that in perspective: Desktop Tower Defense, which did a lot to popularize tower defense and the mazing sub-genre of tower defense, was released two years later in 2007. Curator Defense’s closest contemporary was Master of Defense, a fixed-path tower defense game which, to be frank, was not as good and was also a commercial game. For a while there this was easily the best tower defense game available, and it’s always been free.

curator defenseIt’s a “mazing” tower defense game, where you define the path for the creeps, as opposed to the fixed-path style of tower defense. Thematically, it pits you as the curator of a museum of quality fine art against hordes of awful incoming modern art.

If you are a fan of modern art… well, do your best to play this in good humor. It is very clearly tongue in cheek.