Thanks to the self-explanatory title, the premise of this pixel art tower defence battler doesn’t need much elaboration. A trio of mechs located on the left on the screen must protect a shielded wall, ergo the citizens behind it, from the kaiju monsters that emerge from the right. Think Plants vs. Zombies only super-sized and with more mess to clean up.
It’s clear almost immediately that it’s born from an appreciation for the genre, while showcasing a deep understanding of what makes a tower defence game tick. The difficulty curve is well judged, and it’s easy to imagine hardcore genre fans appreciating the scope for experimentation, with each mech upgradable, and the late addition of introducing tanks and choppers to the battlefield. Then there’s the jumbo-sized research chart – located on a tab confusing called ‘Research Pilots’ (a possible typo of ‘Research Points’ – there are no pilots to research) where new tech can be acquired and improved. Then for newcomers, there’s an Easy Mode, along with the ability to invest in upgrades until eventually becoming powerful enough to overcome anything.
Kaijus come in different shapes and forms, either slowly stomping across the battlefield, slithering along the ground, or soaring through the air. To whittle their numbers down, you must strategically place tesla turrets, plasma walls, SAM sites, flamethrowers, grinders, and more, in marked locations. These can all be upgraded, giving them visibly beefier turrets and so forth. You’ll soon learn the importance of upgrading walls – once fully upgraded, they can even hold back the largest of monsters.
Further assisting with thinning the crowds, your mech can also aim and fire via the analogue stick, and on most maps, units can be relocated directly onto the battlefield to gain a longer reach. Missile strikes, an ice beam, and drones can be deployed too, each on a cooldown.
The difficulty level increases exactly how you’d expect it to. Bigger monsters, longer waves, and a few curveballs such as flying enemies that hover just outside of your mech’s perimeter. Later missions also set the action across two screens, giving twice as much carnage to monitor. On the subject of difficulty, while the HUD shows the wave number and a tally of remaining enemies, it doesn’t give any indication of what’s in the next wave. This can sometimes catch you off guard. On one mission a group of larger flying enemies appeared out of nowhere and decimated the wall without warning.
I never felt discouraged from trying again though, and that’s mostly because of the decent sense of progression – even upon failure, enough currency is usually acquired to unlock an upgrade or two. Incidentally, currencies come in two forms, with gold used to improve your mech’s stats, while the ‘Research Pilots’ screen adds new turret types, improves shield regeneration, et al. New mechs can also be unlocked, allowing you to switch out your squad and change their formation.
It’s the mission types that provide the biggest amount of variety. Once a story mission has been completed – with objectives varying from protecting certain buildings to surviving for a set amount of time – two extra modes unlock: a Horde Mode with modifiers, and a Titan Battle that involves tackling an area’s boss. If you ever become stuck on a story mission, chances are there will be at least one other side mission to tackle. Then to add further replay value, around halfway through a time-consuming Survival Mode – which charts your personal best – and a hardcore battle map unlock, with the latter requiring a hefty amount of upgrades to beat.
While all of this may sound promising, a bit more care with bringing Mechs V Kaijus to consoles wouldn’t have gone amiss. The controls aren’t too intuitive, resulting in fumbling while navigating menus. It’s obvious this was intended to be played with a mouse originally. I also encountered a couple of bugs, with one Horde stage unbeatable due to the screen being zoomed in, cutting off essential UI components, and text switching itself from English to Portuguese – the developer’s native tongue. Text is occasionally missing as well – one paragraph detailing a mission objective cuts off before explaining what the actual objective is. Whoops.
While these faults make the presentation feel sloppy, most issues can be easily overlooked as on the battlefield Mechs V Kaijus shines. This is a very demanding game, requiring your attention constantly – which in turn makes the experience compelling and addictive. Cash flows freely, meaning it’s possible to continuously upgrade and expand whatever’s placed on the battlefield, and the waves are mixed-up so frequently that it becomes vital to pause the action – causing a slow-mo effect – to quickly counterattack. Indeed, this isn’t something you can play casually, with one eye on a YouTube video. So, while there are a few bugs left to squash, there’s still plenty of monster wrangling to get stuck into. At around £10, this colossal time-sink is reasonably priced, too.
Doble Punch’s Mechs V Kaijus is out now on consoles. Published by JanduSoft. The PC version first launched in 2018.