Why am I writing this? I could be playing Kingdom Rush.

I am addicted to Kingdom Rush, so much so that as I’m writing this, it’s open in another tab in my browser.  I can’t play this game enough. I got one of my friends hooked on it too, and we are both dangerously close to beating the game and thus, dangerously close to having nothing to live for anymore.

The objective of the game is pretty simple and the concept isn’t particularly innovative.  Basically, it’s your job to defend some unnamed kingdom from orcs, wolves, gargoyles, bandits, trolls, yetis, etc by building 4 types of defense – barracks, archer towers, mages, and bombards.  Each structure has its pros and cons, including price, damage, and range.  Enemies arrive in waves, and as you kill enemies, you gain more gold and can upgrade your towers.  Here’s a screenshot of a set-up early on in the game:

The game’s narrative is a bit weak, but the Lord of the Rings similarities are obvious enough that the gamer can fill in the holes and naturally starts to invest more in the story than they actually give you.  There are a few sentences before every advance on the map, too.  The story begins with you defending the port from highwaymen and eventually progresses to full out war, which puts you deeper in the map with more defense options and way more enemies.

One of the reasons I bring Kingdom Rush up, besides the fact that it’s awesome, is that like many of the games we’ve been playing, this game seems to draw from classic literature.  I notice so many Lord of the Rings similarities while I play it.  Granted it’s not as sophisticated as LOTR but the inspiration is still there.  The enemies  – trolls, orcs, goblins, spiders – are seemingly taken directly from the novel. The goblins with armor can be equated to Urak-Hai, the enemy wizard is like Saruman, and his tower looks like a budget version of Sauron.  Elves become your allies later in the game.  Even geographically, the map is set up in a way that can be matched with certain features of Tolkien’s LOTR.  The Dark Tower is like Isengard, Icewind Pass could be the Mines of Moria or Misty Mountains, Citadel could be Rohan or Minas Tirith, Forsaken Valley is like Mordor, and you begin battling in a makeshift shire.

I’m really no LOTR expert, so perhaps a bigger connoisseur could create a clearer comparison.  Regardless, the biggest LOTR attribute of Kingdom Rush is this epic journey that you’re thrown into, where your purpose is to navigate the map even though you don’t know what’s ahead of you.  One thing I think is really awesome about this class is how literary tropes are becoming relevant in an entirely different way than I’ve ever studied them before.

Anyway, we like to throw on the LOTR soundtrack while the narrator shouts “Freedom!” and play til we win.  I suggest you all do the same.

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