Spice Invaders for iOS provides freemium, social spin on tower defense

A new iOS game from Chillingo. Spice Invaders is a tower defense game that subverts the often stereotypical role of the invading aliens by having players with defend their bases from humans.

This is accomplished by dropping various types of defensive structures onto a hexagonal play area, and attempting to create an inconvenient, death-filled path for the attacking forces. Killing members of the attacking forces rewards the player with money, which can be spent on additional towers or upgrading existing ones. An experience point system locks different types of towers until the player has leveled up sufficiently.

The game is free to download and can indeed be enjoyed for no cost whatsoever. However, players wishing to enhance their experience have the option of acquiring the game’s premium currency of Spice either directly via in-app purchase, through promoting the game on Facebook and Twitter, sending gifts to friends who are also playing the game or simply through winning games and leveling up.

Spice can then be used to unlock more effective versions of the game’s towers, purchase “magic powers” which act as superweapons, globally upgrade the capabilities of the players’ towers and to unlock later levels.

Social features in the game are provided through a combination of Game Center, which is used for both leaderboard and achievement support, and Chillingo’s own Crystal network. A network connection is required to progress in the game, as player progress, experience points and upgrades are all stored online. There are also a number of competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes for players to challenge.

Unfortunately, the online implementation appears to be somewhat buggy at this time, with the game sometimes believing the player to be offline even when the Crystal interface indicates they are logged in. This can be fixed by quitting the game entirely from the iOS multitasking bar and restarting. But it can lead to loss of progress and even complete crashes at times.

Spice Invaders has the potential to be a solid game that is fun for players and highly profitable for Chillingo due to its “freemium” design — it’s unfortunate the few bugs that appear to have slipped through quality assurance mar the experience somewhat.

A universal app available for both the iPhone and iPad, the game has been performing significantly better on iPad than the iPhone since its release on February 2, according to our tracking service AppData. At the time of writing, it is currently placed at No. 239 in Top Free Apps, No. 100 in Top Free Games, No. 26 in Top Free iPad Apps and No. 13 in Top Free iPad Games. The disparity in rankings may be due to the fact that the game is somewhat more visible on the iPad App Store’s Featured interface than that seen on the iPhone.

To follow Spice Invaders’ progress through the App Store charts, check out AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.