Review Information
Game Reviewed FNAW Tower Defense | Demo, by WwwWario
Review Author Fun With Despair
Created Nov 6 2023, 8:08 AM

General Commentary and Game Overview
I first found about this game when I was linked it to play it during a yearly "event" I hold with some friends where I play a bunch of weird vaguely-spooky themed random games. I played this alongside "Five Nights at Wario's Deluxe", which I downloaded from GameJolt and seems to be also a game produced by WwwWario.

Indeed, it seems as though almost 10 years ago, he introduced the world to the original "Five Nights at Wario's" in the form of a demo, which I played years and years ago for the exact same event. I guess in that sense, I've got a bit of a history with the series, despite ironically thinking FNAF clones almost always suck - Five Nights at Wario's sadly included.

Either way, this is going to be a bit of an off-kilter review, because I'll be talking about this (much more ambitious) game from the perspective of someone who's played at least a few of this developer's other games. I'm not sure how much your average player is going to get from this, but I hope WwwWario gets something out of this review.

I am aware this is a demo and a lot of this is subject to change, but I'm reviewing this as a game in the hopes that the dev can maybe course correct some of these choices.
Pros +Honestly a very robust game, with an in-depth upgrade system
+Variety of interesting towers
+Good variety of maps for a demo
Cons -Mediocre graphics
-Bad enemy variety
-Completely baffling currency and unlock system
-Somewhat poor tower balance
5 / 10
Honestly, this part kind of hurts me.

There is very obviously a ton of effort put into the gameplay side of this game, even though most of it is an emulation of Bloons TD6, an excellent tower defense game and maybe the best in the genre. Every tower has a rather lengthy series of unlockable upgrades that grant it unique boons, and every tower functions differently. It's rare to see a Tower Defense fangame in general, let alone with so much effort put into systems like this. It is fun to play around with the different towers and deal with their quirks and advantages while trying to defend your metaphorical tower. I think this part of the game is really well done actually, especially as these towers aren't just a copy of Bloons TD6 and have their own mostly unique abilities. The map variety is good too, especially for a demo. They offer a variety of layouts and visual themes, and while some effort should be put into making some maps that aren't ultimately just a single linear path, I think it's a great start.

But that's about where my praises end, because there's some really bizarre choices here.

First of all, this game really needs a fast forward button during the tower defense segments, even on the harder difficulties with "faster enemies", the game is so sluggish that one in-game round takes as long as like three in the game it's trying to emulate. This is coupled with a frankly really bad enemy variety that consists of enemies that all behave the same but with more health and slightly different graphics. Bloons TD has a variety of enemies with different traits that require you to diversify towers, but from what I played there's just nothing here, no real reason to branch out. Obviously, this is a demo, but it's something that I think should be paid attention to in the full game.

Now, let's get to the real stinker here. This game has a currency system with daily bonuses you get for stating up the game every day, like a gacha game or an MMO (or indeed, like Bloons TD6 itself). You can also get this currency from just playing the game, and you can use it to buy skins in the shop or unlock new towers. You get 300-something per day, and a new tower or skin costs 1000. The game, by the way, only starts with 3 towers. The problem here should become rather clear. What a terrible choice, man just get rid of this. You aren't Bloons TD6 and you don't need to gate towers behind a daily system or do anything like that. You can have progression, but expectations need to be tempered here. This is a Mario fangame, it is not something that people are going to put weeks into to be able to play as "Corpse Bowser". Especially in the demo of all things, why is this here? It feels like an AI tried to replicate a Games-as-a-Service model without understanding why some of those games are popular or why the model worked for them. And yes, you can just grind maps and not engage with the daily system, but dear god the pace is so glacial and the three default towers wear out their welcome fast. I can't imagine literally anyone would want to do this. If you want to keep the dailies, the skins are a good enough incentive, but seriously either award more towers from the start or tie them to a different progression system like Bloons TD6 where you unlock via playing and can unlock them mid-match. As it stands, no one is actually going to play this long enough to experience the content because without just waiting out the dailies to get more towers or maybe cheating it with your system clock, sitting through the same like, 5 enemies with the same 3 towers moving at the speed of cold molasses is an experience that is just boring as ungodly sin.
4 / 10
I don't want to rag on this too hard, because this is a one-man project, but WwwWario dude, if you still have contact with whoever did the Five Nights At Wario's Deluxe stuff, seriously just get him back in this or something.

Again, I know, I know, it's a demo, but the visuals here are pretty rough and honestly the whole vibe is off. I actually think the character/tower sprites, while amateur, are charming and they are well animated. They look kind of goofy, but they are fun and kind of endearing. My problem though, is just how inconsistent everything is with the theming. First of all, why are Wario, Waluigi, and Luigi normal while the rest are weird horror versions? Why are the maps mostly visually generic fields or other green spaces (besides one "spooky" map)? That's not saying much though, because most of the maps are just ugly gradient filled paths over random patterns. The main menu actually looks very high quality, but why does it look so generic, like something out of a mobile game or a WiiWare title from 2010? Many other random ingame assets are pretty ugly too, with lots of style clashing with everything from various in-game menu buttons to the enemy sprites (which look like random alien sprites ripped from some game) clashing badly with the hand sprited towers which in turn clash badly with the gradient landscapes.

Most importantly though, this is supposed to be FIVE NIGHTS AT Wario's Tower Defense, where the hell is the aesthetic?

Outside of some of the unlockable towers being creepypasta monsters, this has absolutely nothing to do with the "source material". FNAF is like the easiest aesthetic to just rip off wholesale, make the menus look like cameras or something, make some spooky maps based on Wario's factory from the original game, maybe even make Wario spooky because he's literally the main villain of your franchise, I dunno. I can't really tell the feeling this is going for at all, if it wasn't for four towers being creepypasta "virus" characters, this could just be Mario Tower Defense and it wouldn't even really be any different at all. Maybe that's the joke, that it's characters from a horror "franchise" in a goofy lighthearted tower defense game, but it's not really over-the-top enough for that to actually come across. It just looks awkward.

So much of this could be placeholder, but WwwWario, you should try to focus on what kind of vision you actually want for this game. Right now, it's just kind of weird and ugly. Keep the charming styled character sprites maybe, but try to unify all the assets in a more clear direction.
7 / 10
The music is pretty good, I'm not sure if it's from anything but it's chill, vaguely spooky, and would fit the game well if it had more of a horror-esque atmosphere or something. Unfortunately, it really doesn't match what the game actually looks like in practice, so it's mostly kind of awkward. I won't give it a low rating though, because it's fine in and of itself. If the game is supposed to be a goofy spoof though, I would maybe change it.

I don't really have much to comment on here, the music itself is good enough and the general sound design is... fine.
Final Words
5 / 10
Five Nights at Wario's Tower Defense is a demo with a strong core gameplay foundation that is bogged down by a lack of cohesion and extremely bizarre choices. There is potential here, but the final version of this game will need a lot of focus put into the right places for it to truly shine.

No Icon
Nov 20 2023, 11:13 AM
Very detailed review, I truly appreciate that. Lots of great points.

Unfortunately, if my graphics and game design choices are still bad after 10+ years of game dev, I think it's time to call a spade a spade and retire from game development. This is probably the most work I've put into a game ever, but if it's still below subpar even after doing coding and graphics for 10-15 years, I don't feel there's much hope.
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