Bowmaster Prelude Game

Aim-and-shoot castle tower defense action with archers, trebuchets, and some capture-the-flag elements thrown in for free

Bowmaster Prelude

Grab your bow (your mouse) and take aim (drag and move your mouse in the appropriate direction) to defend your castle against advancing waves of pesky enemies in Bowmaster Prelude, a refreshingly inventive title combining elements of tower defense, strategy, resource management, and trajectory-based shooting.

A Bowl of Entertainment

Bowmaster Prelude is a game that readily proves that the traditional tower defense format is a versatile mistress, allowing for a myriad of titles, each with their own individual take on the genre. Some do well by sticking to the age-old procedure of defending a single point on a map viewed from a top-down perspective with multiple towers lining a preset path through the level, while other like Stick War 2 allow you direct control over the individual troops in an army that must destroy the opposition before they destroy you. Bowmaster Prelude is a fantastic amalgamation of traditional and non-traditional features and even includes a little physics-based action, with each of its features coalescing to produce a wildly moreish (if a little basically-designed) bowl of entertainment sprinkled with the sweet, sweet sugar of tower defense.

Stop that Flag

Bowmaster Prelude is a game that doesn’t accept the traditional multiple-tower and automatic, sentry-style of attack that regular tower-defense games employ: it gives you only one tower defend, in which you must assume control of an heroic archer character by manually aiming and firing at the waves of oncoming foes, judging both the trajectory and power of your shots by carefully using the mouse to indicate the direction and pulling it back in true archer’s style to apply power to the shot. In a classic defense scenario all the waves of enemies want to do is swipe your flag from outside your castle and bring it back to theirs, which is just plain rude if you ask me. As punishment for their rudeness, you’re going to have to fire a variety of different arrows and deploy a series of increasingly powerful troops in order to either eliminate every single one of them or to steal their flag to bring back to your own castle. Either way is fine by me (and the game), just as long as you do it before your flag is stolen first.

Beautiful Strategy

The strategy involved in Bowmaster Prelude is divided between the rapid slaughtering of enemies by aiming and firing at them and the balancing of your resources in order to be able to afford new upgrades at the end of each round. The currency of the game is gold, which you earn by killing enemies, but you also gain experience points and population numbers throughout the game. New upgrades such as flaming arrows, explosive arrows, and ice-firing arrows all cost different quantities of gold, as do the deployable troops (archers, swordsmen, trebuchets etc.). The troops also cost money for each deployment as well as decreasing your population numbers, so you may be tempted to send out endless waves of forces against the enemy, but this will rob you of the chance to purchase that lightning-inducing arrow upgrade that could be the deciding factor in the next battle. The beauty of the game surfaces as much in the choices you make as well as the trajectory/power-based firing mechanics making it one of the more original castle defense games to play online with being the other.

Simple is the New Complex

Anyone with a pair of eyes and a computer screen will realise that the aesthetics of  Bowmaster Prelude are shall we say, simplistic to put it mildly. Granted, the Bowmaster Prelude looks like an exercise in basic flash-based game design, and the music isn’t exactly a symphony to the ear canal either, but the fact that a game can be quite so entertaining with such an unapologetically simple look is a testament to just how well-executed the gameplay itself is. The upgrading of your arrows and troops is one of the most addictive aspects, and perfecting the tricky aiming system is a challenge within itself. Once you get past the first few levels and purchase some advanced arrow upgrades, you’ll wonder how you ever got through life without explosive-tipped arrows; I’m sure John Rambo felt the same way.