Harry’s House is besieged by monsters, but, unlike the protagonist of any other given apocalypse, Harry (looking for all the world like a Boy Scout) is prepared. Armed with an array of household items such as hamburgers, ice, fans, and tacks, as well as a slingshot with endless ammo, Harry’s ready to defend his house from the zombies and save his village! (Just how he manages to save the entire village while fending off monsters from his house is anyone’s guess – the story lapses a bit on this point – but I totally believe Harry’s plucky enough to do it.)
Harry’s House is a charming and very reasonably priced number that takes cues from the Tower Defense genre and Plants Vs. Zombies in particular. Like PvZ, you pick items at the beginning of the stage to fill a limited number of slots; you catch a glimpse of the way the enemy horde is organized before the stage begins; and you’ll need to defend your grid before they reach the opposite end of the screen.
What separates Harry’s House from Plants vs. Zombies is the inclusion of Harry himself: he’s an integral part of your strategy. He’s entrenched at the bottom of the screen behind a makeshift barrier of furniture, and he’ll shoot at the monsters directly in front of him. The key is to make a gameplan for item use based on the placement of the enemy monsters and then position Harry to whittle away at their numbers as necessary. Of course, if the monsters make it to Harry, you’ve got to restart the stage. Again a la PvZ, the presents that spontaneously appear on the grid give you currency to buy items, but here they’ll also present you with useful surprises. For instance, you’ll occasionally get a bomb that will freeze all enemies on the screen, buying you a few desperately-needed seconds to plant more defenses.
If this sounds faced-paced, that’s because quick thinking – and in later stages, very quick thinking – is totally essential to success. The game’s challenge can be summed up as “multitasking under pressure.” Mechanics-wise, Harry’s House is blessedly simple and polished. The grid format makes item placement fairly foolproof and Harry’s responsive to tapping. All-in-all, it’s designed to allow you to safely juggle the triple demands of item placement, positioning Harry, and opening up the presents as they appear.
On its more difficult settings, this game gets hard. I don’t have a lot of experience with the TD genre and its ilk, so your mileage may vary on that front, but there’s just not a lot of room for error or deliberation – you’ve got to take that glimpse you get at the beginning of the level and act accordingly right away. You don’t have to deal with item selection at the first level, but later on, your inventory choices can make or break your success at monster-horde-fending.
There’s also a truly astounding number of stages (78) and a normal and hard mode both. My stamina wasn’t up to the particular task of making a huge dent in all of that content; my one big complaint about the game would be that I ran out of steam a few days in. Don’t get me wrong: the scaling challenges struck me as thoughtfully varied. It’s just that as a more casual player, there’s really only so much mileage you can get out of the basic premise. But if you’re the sort who gets really obsessive over TD, you may find all the stages well worth your time.
As a final plus, the artwork is quite well-done. It’s an alarmingly cute zoo of mummies, zombies, ghosts, pumpkin monsters, clowns, etc., and the different stages are pretty inventively conceived. Likewise, props to the audio designer for perfectly-paced tracks that don’t wear out your sanity after repeat uses.
iFanzine Verdict: All in all, Harry’s House strikes the right balance between spooky, cute, and catchy, and offers more than enough to justify the 0.99 price tag. It will please fans of Plants vs. Zombies or the Tower Defense genre generally.