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Assuming that the old adage about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery still holds up in the App Store era, the makers of Kingdom Rush should feel downright exalted by Pirate Legends TD. Copycats are nothing new in the iOS space, but while subtler "tributes" might try to disguise their inspirations, Pirate Legends TD makes no such effort. From the tower selection to the upgrade paths, placement approach, and UI design – plus the between-mission upgrades, map screen design, and use of heroes – this tower defense affair barely diverges from the uniquely fantastic concoction of elements brewed for Kingdom Rush and Kingdom Rush Frontiers.
While it feels a little icky to see a game so brazenly swipe the backbone of another, at least Super Hippo picked the genre's best iOS entry to mimic – and Pirate Legends TD does a very admirable impression indeed. Swapping in ships and winding river pathways for the knights, goblins, and dusty roads of its inspiration, Pirate Legends TD challenges you to protect your vessel by placing upgradable offensive towers on the limited plots that line the banks of each river stage. Coins earned from killing invaders are used to purchase and enhance each tower, with branching upgrade paths offering you some helpful flexibility in how you use the four main tower types in each locale.
If there's one area in which Pirate Legends TD sets itself apart, it's the stunning visual design, with each stage featuring a lush hand-painted look. Elsewhere, the game entertains and challenges to familiar degree, but feels a little overloaded with offensive options. In addition to upgradable towers, you can aim your ship's cannon, set the target of your bullet-spewing fighter pilot hero (which era is this, again?), use multiple special attacks, and employ numerous bonus items. Coupled with regular prodding to employ in-app purchases for boosts, special attacks, and better heroes, the strategic core feels a bit muddled by the extensive array of options. In general, though, this is largely a very solid and enjoyable genre entry, albeit one that sadly lacks more than the faintest hint of originality.
The bottom line. Pirate Legends TD can't quite match the quality of the game it aims to duplicate, but it comes close enough to consider.
iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 5.1 or later
Excellent visual design. Great tower defense approach (made popular by Kingdom Rush).
It's an unsubtle clone of the excellent Kingdom Rush. So many elements in play that the strategic core feels a little muddled. Cramped interface can cause occasional control annoyances.