Retro-pixel graphics? Check. Scary enemies? Check. An RPG leveling system? Check. Pixel Kingdom has all the makings of a game you could waste hours playing. In fact, this is just what SGDjames tells us in his 5 Star Games channel:
Probably my absolute favorite title in the Play store. I've spent so much time with this frigging amazing game. Do NOT pass this one up!
If you know 5 Star Games, you would know that this is high praise indeed (the channel has 191 games at the moment, all personally reviewed by Craig, the editor). What makes Pixel Kingdom Craig's absolute favorite?
Pixel Kingdom is easy to understand: You have enemies coming in from the right of the screen, trying to go left. Your troops have to come in from the left of the screen and stop them. Whenever an enemy makes it out of the screen, you lose a life -- just like in your regular tower defense game. Unlike in a tower defense game, though, your defenses are not static: Your troops move at the enemy, and eventually continue and move off the screen (or just plain die). This means you have to constantly deploy new troops to defend against incoming threats. There are three lanes on which enemies attack, and you have to send your troops on all three.
Those are the core mechanics, but they only serve as a basis for a much deeper system. For example, you can't just keep hurling troops at the bad guys: You have only so much energy, and every unit you send into the field costs a bit of energy - the fancier the unit, the more energy it costs. Energy fills over time, but you have to budget it prudently and not just send everything you've got against the first threat that comes up.
Then there's the matter of units: You start the game with a couple of units types, such as a regular solider and an archer. As you use them in the battlefield they level up, gaining attack power and hit points (defensive power). But you can also unlock new units, and level those up in turn.
Unlocking new units costs gold, which you earn during gameplay but can also buy for real money. Then there are gems, which are much harder to get, and you can use to level units up. Fortunately, I looked at Pixel Kingdom's Facebook page, where I was able to find plenty of codes for the in-game Spell Book. These are sequence of buttons you press in the Spell Book, which in turn yields a nice bit of gold, as well as some gems every now and then. By using the gems I got like this, I was able to strategically level up my simplest unit, and get quite far ahead in the game.
Pro tip: Go to Pixel Kingdom's Facebook page to get codes for gems and coins.
All in all, Pixel Kingdom is just fun to play, and fun to look at. The retro-styled graphics are beautifully done, creating an old-school atmosphere while still keeping it easy to tell units apart. Definitely one to try.