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Swamp Defense 2 (Switch) artwork

Swamp Defense 2 (Switch) review

"Swamp Defense 2 suffers from unimpressive highs and buggy lows, which would be good... if you were a frog."

As a huge fan of tower defense games, I expected to have quite a lot of fun with Swamp Defense 2 on Nintendo Switch. At the very least, I figured I would get my $2.99 worth of entertainment out of it. And I did do precisely that, but I can't recommend that you take a chance and make a similar investment for several reasons.

Swamp Defense 2 is a thoroughly conventional tower defense game, but I don't hold that against it because a thoroughly conventional tower defense game is exactly what I expected and hoped for when I purchased it. Your goal is to protect one end of a trail from being accessed by a group of monsters that emerge from the swamp. You fight along the shoreline, positioning a motley crew of armed villagers as they battle the invasion of sentient slime creatures. If 10 of your enemies reach the opposite side of the screen from which they materialize (more or less), you're toast. Otherwise, you win money that you can then spend on permanent upgrades for your available units.

Swamp Defense 2 (Switch) image

Originally developed for iOS and released in 2015, Swamp Defense 2 is not pretty. However, I never had any trouble seeing any of the units as they approached, nor did I have difficulty distinguishing between unit types on either the offensive or defensive side. Those are marks in the game's favor, as far as I am concerned, and they mostly make up for the uninspiring presentation.

There are more than 60 stages available to clear, set in three distinct environments. However, those environments play the same. It doesn't much matter whether a palm tree or a crystal prevents you from placing a unit along the path where you would like. Either way, that's an inconvenience you'll have to work around as you plan your strategy.

I have a few issues with the game. The first issue is that there's a bit of grinding required before your units will be much good in any but the earliest stages. A typical stage might consist of 30 or 40 waves, and enemies grow progressively heartier as you advance through those waves toward the payout at the end. You can generally gun down any early invaders in a hurry, but their armor improves at a rate such that you can't make much of a dent in the horde unless you have upgraded your favorite units' range, rate of fire, and attack power at the store ahead of attempting a given stage. Early stages pay out maybe 140 or so coins (more if you play on the harder setting, but that's risky business), and every upgrade to each character costs 500 of those precious coins.

Swamp Defense 2 (Switch) image

Once you have sufficiently upgraded a few units, the maps become much more manageable. You still have to employ sound tower defense strategies, except now you're not undone by pathetically ineffective firepower. Now the challenge feels more even, and you're less likely to start a stage strong, play for several minutes and then lose right at the end. Your new adversary will be boredom.

A lot of tower defense games give players numerous ways to customize their available offensive measures. Even if you have only a few unique towers, you might be able to branch out and choose different enhancements as you level it up over the course of a stage. Here, there's none of that. You upgrade your characters, but this just increases their range, rate of fire and offensive capabilities in a set manner. Upgrading is still absolutely worthwhile and even essential, but there's not much strategy involved. You just recognize that you want to shoot better and so you spend the coins. There are nine units at your disposal, once you buy all of them, and you can buy various obstructions to place across the path, but there's no real sense of variety and that means everything starts to feel monotonous well before it should.

The interface is also clunky. I quickly took to playing in handheld mode, which mostly works okay, but there was a period of required adjustment along the way. You have to tap where you want to place a unit, then tap the unit from the bar at the bottom of the screen. Sometimes, you'll want to place a unit somewhere it could do a lot of good, but you tap the map and a red X appears to let you know that space is off-limits, even though there's no apparent reason for it. There seems to be ample space but there... isn't. It's irritating.

Swamp Defense 2 (Switch) image

None of the issues I pointed out above compared to the one that finally led me to stop playing the game without clearing the last set of maps. Fairly late in the campaign, I started the next mandatory map and started placing my units as enemies started rolling onto the scene. The game suddenly crashed, with a note appearing on-screen to let me know an error had occurred. I loaded it and tried again. I was able to play a little further into the map and then another crash cut things short. So I tried again, and it crashed again. I turned my Switch system off entirely, then turned it back on and loaded the game. I accessed the map and the game almost immediately crashed yet again. So I tried playing a different game and played for hours without any issues at all. It's definitely Swamp Defense 2 that was having issues, not my hardware.

So anyway, I won't be finishing Swamp Defense 2, but I played for quite a few hours before the game randomly decided that I'd had my fun and it was going to prevent me from having any more of it. I don't know if the persistent crash is something only I will ever encounter, if the game will run fine for everybody else who tries it. Maybe it will crash in a different place, or not at all. Maybe the specific combination of upgrades and characters I unlocked was the issue. Maybe it wasn't. I could speculate all day, but there's not much point. All I really know is that the game provided me hours of mediocre tower defense action and then just stopped working.

Even if you love tower defense games, I would recommend skipping this one.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (November 22, 2018)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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