This will not be new to you but I have a very serious dislike of clones. There is a subtle difference between saying a game is a bit like another game and saying that it’s virtually the same game in a different skin. These little monstrosities are plaguing sites like Steam and are one of the reasons why the really good games in it’s free to play category get missed. In many cases this seems to be done as a cash grab. Take something that you know works, call it something different and change the characters so you can’t be sued for plagiarism and bob’s your uncle you have a game. Stick this on Steam with a mammoth pay wall and hope nobody notices. This mentality is doing so much harm and it really makes my blood boil. It was also with this in mind that I began playing Hipster Attack. This game is effectively a re-skin of another title but it isn’t making my teeth itch and I’m going to explain why.
You can be all nasty, lazy and stealy and fall into the group of charlatans I’ve just mentioned or you can pay homage to another well loved game and make yours just different enough that it isn’t really a clone. This, for me is Hipster Attack, a game that is basically Plants Vs Zombies without the plants or the zombies. What makes this stand out is that you can see a real level of care has gone into the making of this title and this begins with the unique and hilarious concept behind it.
In the game you run a series of coffee shops and you need to protect your beloved beans from a horde of rampaging Hipsters who are determined to do horrible, completely unnecessary things to your wonderful cups of Joe. If you are to stop a perfectly good cup of black coffee becoming a mocha-choca-frappe-latte-thingy you will need to use your speed, skill and of course your employees to fend the flannel wearing nightmares off.
You’ll need to protect those tables at all costs.
What makes this game so similar to PVZ is it’s layout. You are looking after a series of lanes along which the Hipsters move. You must position your own employees in the path of the enemy and stop them reaching the coffee tables at the end of each row. The formula is very simple but it makes for some very addictive, fun, and often completely frantic gameplay. In PVZ, (expect a hell of a lot of comparisons, I can’t help it, it’s the best way to explain the game,) you use sunshine as your currency. In Hipster Attack your main currency is coffee and to maximize this you will need to build coffee machines. These just sit there and help you replenish your units until they’re upgraded, then they get mean and start slinging projectiles.
The main thing that sets this game aside from the other one is that you have two currencies. Coffee is used in each level to buy your employees and set them. Different units cost different amounts and they have a cool down to stop you just playing anything, anywhere. The second currency is cash. You use cash to kick off special unit abilities and play field powers. Each unit has a more powerful move type which will really help you if used properly. The thing with cash is that it really needs balancing because the total carries over between levels. If you get stuck and blow all your hard earned money on a particularly tough run you might find you’ve just made life harder for yourself in the levels to come.
The hipster menace is varied and dangerous. You will need to be on your toes.
As you progress through the game, you unlock new unit types and powers ready for use. Different units are great for different scenarios and are better equipped to deal with different types of Hipster than others. You start out with your HR employees who are armed with one of the most baneful things to a Hipster in the game, the job application. God forbid the beard wearing weirdos might actually ever work. As you go, you expand your staff adding security guards.
These big lumps just sit sleeping in the way of the attacking mob and act as blockers. Their special ability wakes them up and causes them to throw a flurry of damaging punches before dozing off again. This is a short range attack but woe betide anyone who happens to be in the way. HR Managers are another useful unit. These guys are never happy with their own work and have a ton of little screwed up balls of papaer on them at all times, this gives them a mortar attack and makes them very useful for taking out shielded enemies. The list goes on but I’m not going to explain all of your weapons, lets let you figure a bit of this out for yourself.
Vinyl is great to listen too, less great when it’s being used as a missile. Good thing you have coffee cannons ready to use when needed.
Just as there are a variety of weapons at your disposal the same applies for your enemy. As we all know the only ironic thing about Hipsters, (that being the irony they all crave,) is that they don’t know what Irony is. Instead of being cool and edgy they just come across as a bunch of clueless trend obsessed lemmings. Hipster Attack takes this and makes fun of it in some really wonderful ways. You have you basic rank and file Hipsters of course, these are just beardy and wanting to get at your coffee. It’s the variations you have to watch out for. You have, for instance, the record lover.
This is the guy that will only listen to vinyl and knew about every band out there before they were “mainstream.” These little know-it-alls not only carry record players but sling records at you. You have the fitness fanatic who is obviously faster than the others. Then you have my personal favorite. Mimester. This freak of nature carries a metaphorical shield which he likes hiding behind. As I’ve got an unnatural fear of mimes killing this little blighter off is something I get a special amount of joy from. As with your allies the list of enemies goes on and each need tackling slightly differently. As you find yourself facing a mix of hipsters on each level you will need to be on your toes.
Cash is an important resource that you will have to use sparinly.
I’ve spoken about mobile games porting badly to PC in the past but rarely the other way round. Hipster Attack is an IOS and Android game as well as being a PC Steam release. I haven’t played the other version but I don’t think it would translate as well on a smaller screen. This game can get really frantic and keeping up with everything is hard enough sometimes with a mouse, my stubby fingers on a phone screen wouldn’t be able to manage as well and I think it would get really frustrating. As I’ve said, I haven’t played it so I’m not criticizing it’s just an observation.
All in all this is a really fun game to play and for those of you that don’t remember the first iteration of PVZ before EA got their hands on it I think it’s a must. It’s funny, lovably written and very well drawn in a quirky but colorful way. Even if you have played Plants Vs Zombies I think you’ll find a lot to love here. Do expect an entirely different game, it absolutely isn’t but it’s still an awful lot of fun and, so far at least, isn’t too hard. It would have been really easy to crank the difficulty level right up with massive spikes in play but everything feels fluid and I haven’t come across anything thus far that I couldn’t manage. I’m not saying this game won’t get harder in later levels but I think that everything will remain within doable parameters.
So to sum up, this game is a clone but it’s a very good clone. I can see the love and hard work that Televisor have put into their title and nothing about Hipster Attack is sloppy. The fact that I can only think of one other game similar to it means it’s not something that’s been done to death either which is a definite plus. If you want something that will make you smile as much as it wears you out, (you really need to be fast on your mouse,) this is going to be the game for you. Is it different enough for an avid PVZ fan? That’s probably debatable but it still shouldn’t put you off giving it a good college try. I mean Hipsters, who wouldn’t want to use them for stress relief right?
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Gameplay - 9/10
Originality - 5/10
Look and Feel - 7/10
Calling this game a re-skin would be unfair but It’s still a bit too similar in style to PvZ for comparisons not to be made. This aside it’s a brilliantly fun and addictive ride. This is not a sloppy clone, it’s a lovingly thought out and we’ll written game. All in all well worth a look.