McDroid – Review

Title   McDroid
Developer  Elefantopia
Publisher  Elefantopia
Platform  Windows PC, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre  Tower Defence
Release Date  March 1st, 2016
Official Site

mcdroidrev1Simplicity is underrated in gaming these days. Back in the day, all you needed were a few sprites, a handful of colours, a joystick, a fire button and you were good to go. These days, developers feel the need to fling in a heap of extra ingredients and games can often become needlessly fussy to play. When it comes to the tower defence genre, less has always been more. Of course, it’s also been done to death and perfected a long time ago. Games like GeoDefence on iOS combine simple, elegant visuals with perfectly balanced gameplay in a package that looks like a ZX81 could run a half-decent version of it and, given that balance is everything, the F2P model has never really worked with the genre, so ultimately evolution in the genre has been stifled in a natural way.

McDroid attempts to breathe life into it, though. It’s a cute indie title that sees you controlling the action with your little dog-like droid, which bounds around enthusiastically, setting the foundations of your defence as you aim to protect your landing spacecraft (a sentient one called Shuttle) from the evil alien forces that are corrupting your home planet. Because this is an indie game, your main currency is strawberries. You have to plant these and harvest them (a’la Plants Vs. Zombies) and then take them back to Shuttle in order to cash them in towards turrets. You then pop these turrets into the ground and maintain them while continuing to harvest. The game adds new units and upgrades as you go, but the game does stick to the fundamentals of tower defence.


Aside from strawberries, you also earn diamonds. These have to be picked up, putting you in danger, but will pay for upgrades. These are essential because McDroid is pretty tough. The alien forces meander around without easy-to-follow paths, so it’s kind of hard to know where to fortify your frontline. Not that you get much choice – turret spaces are limited and natural environmental dangers (such as lava) will destroy them.

mcdroidrev3Your droid will heal turrets and Shuttle when in close proximity. The droid can also pick up turrets and use them independently, too (which is quite handy). It’s pretty standard stuff, to be fair, but everything around those core basics kind of gets in the way. First up, there are the visuals. Yes, everything is cute and colourful but the visuals get in the way of the action. It’s hard to see where things are going, it’s hard to see where you are taking damage, it’s hard to spot your strawberries, it’s hard to know where to prioritise damage. It’s all just too much of a mess. Tower defense games should really be in 2D. Add any thing to it and you just over-egg the presentation, and with McDroid it’s like thirteen dimensions of string theory. Well… sort of. It’s just a bit messy.

Then you’ve got the gameplay. McDroid doesn’t do a good job of explaining itself. There’s a basic tutorial and tips at the start of levels, but also signposts, which are ugly and almost entirely unhelpful. There’s too much to do. Running around harvesting, defending, fixing, attacking. It all gets a bit much. With more elegant visuals, it’d be easier to make decisions, but with this presentation it’s all just too much.

The game gets hard after a while and what was a fairly ordinary tower defence game becomes a flat out unenjoyable one. This is just one reviewer’s opinion of course and your mileage might vary but I like this genre (The Creeps is currently my go-to iOS game and that’s a by-the-numbers TD game) and McDroid just frustrates me.


When the action really gets going, the game just does you no favours. There are no checkpoints in the levels, so you are at the mercy of the game and when a level’s final wave mixes everything up and throws too much at you, the idea of replaying the level and adapting your defences just feels like a chore. Also, the game’s frame rate protests visibly whenever things really get going. The game has charm, and even some confidence, but if you’re going to riff on an established genre, you have to remember what makes it good. McDroid just doesn’t get that right at all.

  • Some interesting game mechanics
  • Cute presentation
  • Some humour
  • Messy visuals
  • Confused gameplay
  • Not really any fun

It'd be easy to like McDroid. It's got a swagger to it and it wants to be liked but the gameplay just doesn't cut it and the visuals cripple it. It's not the worst tower-defence game you'll ever play but it's far from being one of the best.

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