Little 3 Kingdoms by AsNet Co.,Ltd icon

Little 3 Kingdoms ($1.99) by AsNet Co.,Ltd is an iPad only 2-D side-scrolling castle defense game where the goal is to create an army to destroy the enemy outpost while defending your own.

The graphics are the first thing you will notice after firing up Little 3 Kingdoms, especially if you’re playing on a third generation iPad. The colors are vivid, the characters are well designed, and the backgrounds are all gorgeous.

Visually, this is an impressive game, and I’d rank it as some of the best defense game graphics that I’ve seen so far in the App Store, but I wish that the gameplay lived up to the game’s fantastic exterior.

This is a typical castle defense game, where you tap icons to build minions that will walk forward to attack the enemy base. This is a single lane game, so there’s little else to do besides build up an army and then watch it attack. It gets repetitive.

There are a variety of standard minion types, from sword and spear users to archers and ballistas. Enemy minions are the same, so you will need to match your own army to the enemy troops. I wish that I could say minion type mattered, but winning seems to hinge more on amassing food (your unit building currency) to create a large army and the judicious use of troop upgrades.

Little 3 Kingdoms by AsNet Co.,Ltd screenshot

In some games, you’re forced to mine or farm for currency to build up your army, but in Little 3 Kingdoms, food is generated automatically, so all you need to do is spam tap those unit building buttons.

The game does have heroes, which have special abilities to enhance your minion’s performance, and each minion also has its own set of powers that you can activate. To use these, tap on a minion and then tap on the power (generally a leap attack and a motivating shout). Hero powers work in the same way, with a simple tap.

You can earn three stars on each level, and to get them all, you will need to devise a strategy that results in a quick win. The longer you take, the less stars you get.

Little 3 Kingdoms by AsNet Co.,Ltd screenshot

Winning more stars will result in more gold at the end of each level, and the gold is used in the shop to purchase new unit types, new heroes, and to upgrade your existing units. Each unit can be upgraded five times, which gets expensive.

The game gives a decent amount of coins, but gameplay definitely gets tough if you’re not earning enough gold to upgrade regularly. If that’s the case, you can buy more gold within the app, because you can’t go back and replay earlier levels to earn more coins. This is a major disappointment because you’re almost forced into purchasing gold if you haven’t been keeping up.

Little 3 Kingdoms has decent castle defense gameplay and great graphics, but the inability to earn coins to progress will likely be frustrating to casual players. If you’re a fan of defense games, you might want to check this out, but make sure you earn enough coins while playing to keep up with increase in difficulty.