I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with handheld games. I am of the firm opinion that the 3DS cannot be beat for handheld gaming, with the Playstation Vita in a distant second and iOS/Android/Windows Phone barely registering on the radar.
I’ll be blunt, most gaming on such platforms is abysmal. They’re rife with shovelware, ports with clunky controls, and cheap tie-ins to movies or larger AAA-level games on consoles or the PC. Still, there are games that manage to break that mold. CastleMine manages to do so in a very good way: the game is fun, engaging, and has none of the above problems that I typically see with other games.
When I play CastleMine, I’m taken back to around 2005 when I picked up both Meteos and Lumines, puzzle games for the original DS and PSP, respectively. The game has a very low learning curve, but it very rapidly speeds up the game to keep the player engaged. The object of the game is simple, you have a castle that is being attacked from below. The player must dig down and place traps at various points to attack the evil forces that lurk below. Inside the castle, you have summoning stones, which is what the evil forces are trying to attack. The goal is to strategically place your points of attack so that they will not be able to reach the summoning stones. At many points, you may have to remove previous points of attack and replace them, often times at a net loss to your gold, which limits how often you can spawn new attack points. Because of that, it is very important that the player make every decision count. As you progress to higher levels, the evil forces can take more hits, you have less gold to go around, and enemy spawn points create more units. However, every time your attack units launch an attack, they gain EXP, and after a certain threshold, you can use gold to level them up with more powerful attacks.
If I had to compare it to any particular game, I would have to compare it to Lumines. The game rewards you for planning out how you use your units and plan your defense, rather than more speed-based puzzle games like Meteos that reward the player based on how quickly they can think to resolve a high number of small problems quickly.
Overall, the game is a lot of fun. The developer has come up with an entertaining gameplay scenario that can keep the player engaged for a good period of time. There are two versions, a free, ad-supported version, and a standard edition at $0.99. I feel comfortable in recommending people purchase the standard edition.