Once upon a time, some people at Fire Hose Games had a conversation wherein it was noted that there are a lot of games out right now that feature zombies, but not so many with dinosaurs. Truly, a travesty. An affront to polite society. “It was one of those things that started as a joke, but people got more excited over,” said Eitan Glinert, Fire Chief and founder of Fire Hose Games. Hence, Go Home Dinosaurs, a game to satisfy your sauropoidal needs (sort of – more on that later).
Go Home Dinosaurs is a tower defense game wherein you control a gopher who must defend his BBQ from ravenous yet adorable dinosaurs. There two main wrinkles that distinguishes Go Home Dinosaurs from other tower defense games: Your gopher avatar can travel all over the screen to collect coconuts (which are then used to create your different towers), and the game also uses a card system, something Glinert said Fire Hose has worked hard to implement.
“We like games with deckbuilding,” said Glinert. “We like the idea of you use an item and then it’s gone.”
At the beginning of each level, you have a certain number of cards, each one representing a different type of tower – standard towers, frost towers, rapid fire towers, area of effect towers, etc. Towers that you would find in most other tower defense games only with the added benefit of being manned by zealous gophers that spout puns based on their tower type. You can only build towers that you have cards for, and you’re limited to 10 cards per level, at least currently; since the game is still in open beta, Glinert said many of the elements are subject to change.
“That is one thing that will be changing; there will be variable hand size,” he said.
Fortunately for you, I’m here to warn you to be conservative with your cards. In the first few levels, beating the level will shower you with a cornucopia of cards, essentially fully replenishing your stock. After the early tutorial-ish stages are over however, the level rewards drop from “bountiful” to “niggardly,” which can leave you in the lurch for a level or two; as someone brought up on tower defense mods for StarCraft Broodwar and Warcraft III, I had been trained to build towers as soon as I had the resources, because you never know when that one level with three times as many baddies is going to come along and overwhelm you. Newer tower defense games like Plants vs. Zombies and Kingdom Rush also reinforce this philosophy. But in Go Home Dinosaurs, you’re better off conserving you cards if you can. You will gain coins each level, which can then be exchanged for additional cards, but you would do well to make any attempt at card conservation you can (at least in the beta – this is all subject to change, obviously).
The aforementioned gopher avatar does a lot of work to defend his BBQ from hungry dinos. In addition to burrowing all over the map to collect coconuts (because gophers love coconuts… I guess?), he also serves a tower if he’s in range of dinosaurs. This is more refreshing than you might think, as he’s actually a decent “tower,” packing a reasonable punch, with a decent range, that can attack land and air dinosaurs. It also makes you feel like you have control and can do something to affect your situation in between coconut collection and tower placement. This element is something else that Glinert says the team is working on enhancing.
“One of our favorite parts of the game is the gopher,” he said. “We’re going to double down on that and give him some cool new abilities.”
The game as currently constituted should certainly sate any superficial desire for dinosaurs you might have. Just try not to think about the fact that you’re throwing coconuts at them until they burst into coins, and that you’re spending all your time denying them a few steaks – even the herbivores. Quibbles aside, Go Home Dinosaurs is a pretty fun take on tower defense, and the final version should be even better. The beta version is currently available for free on the Google Chrome store.