Insomniac Games has been working on mobile games and pumping out several excellent ones, as the recent Digit & Dash proved, and their latest, Bad Dinos, is an interesting riff on the tower defense genre. For the most part, all the normal setpieces are still there, so if you blink you'll miss what makes it special. Luckily, Insomniac's twist has made what could have easily been just another clone worth picking up.
Kings of the Stone Age
Jump into a sprightly and friendly-looking version of the prehistoric period where everything looks as though it was ripped straight from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. That's how Bad Dinos looks and feels, and it's an inviting and exhilarating change from all the grittiness of so many other tower defense games. Of course, the framing is still very much the same. You'll have to choose where you want to place your armaments, how to proceed with wiping out those who want to advance forward and take you out, and which dinosaurs you want to let loose on your enemies.
In fact, that's where the twist factor of Bad Dinos comes in: You can capture the enemy dinosaurs you muss up in battle, then use them as your own personal dino army against your competition later on in the game. This turns a run-of-the-mill "don't let X get to Y before Z" game into a more strategic affair that doesn't require too much debate, but enough that you feel as though your intelligence isn't being insulted. It's challenging, but in a good way. It becomes more of a game where you wonder which dinosaurs will end up making viable allies rather than trying to figure out how you'll wipe out the entire opposition, and that can lead to some very interesting gameplay decisions.
The Maps, They Are A-Changin'
While you're figuring out which dinosaurs are in your best interest to preserve and staving off enemies from your base, you'll also have to deal with the map altering over the course of the game. For instance, floating islands and masses of land can fuse together. You might see lava completely covering one area and then it disappearing the next moment.
Keep On A-Rockin'
Insomniac's Bad Dinos is an interesting endeavor and one that isn't changing the tower defense scene, but it's certainly done its part to, at the very least, offer up a game that takes convention and tweaks it so it feels like a much less mundane experience. As a studio with such a fine pedigree, I know they're capable of greatness, and they're absolutely headed in the right direction. Now it's definitely time for them to try something risky.