Home Invasion: Family Defense

Don’t like tower defence games? Then bugger off. Go on, right over there. No, further. Further. Further. Further. Further. Further. Further.

There you go. You’re now far enough away to safely move onto the next post that does interest you and thus not pollute this one with claptrap like ‘meh’ and ‘oh god not another one of these.’ I love TD, and I love this. Family Defense III is a Famicom-styled browser game, starring fantasy characters instead of towers. Build things, kill things, upgrade things, kill more things: you probably know the drill. So much so that the fact it’s in Japanese shouldn’t be a huge impediment to playing it.

I’ve embedded it below for lazies, but as a) it breaks out of the site’s template a bit and b) game-makers always deserve direct hits, you should go play this impossibly charming strategy game in its original home here.

You should work it out – I just pressed the first button in the menus and seemed to end up where I wanted to be. If anyone fancies getting all translatory on this, please do so below.

The long button on the bottom right is the only really unintuitive thing, and brings up the vitally important play/pause controls. Also the big panel on the middle right is a second clutch of upgrades, which I haven’t totally got my head around yet but mostly I just like clicking buttons.

There you go. Again, you’re better off playing it here though.

It’s just marvelously cute, isn’t it? Even the sounds, the 1up animations… Lovely.

(Thanks be to Bryce for pointing us this way.)


  1. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    Oh god not another one of these! Meh.

    Sorry, but you were asking for it. I’ll actually give it a try now.

    EDIT: That first map make me think of Shining Force…

  2. mod the world says:

    Yawn, another TD clone.
    Shining Force on the other side, ahh those were the days.

  3. Arathain says:

    Can’t get rid of the buggers. Sorry, Alec.

  4. Rich says:

    Oh god not another… OK I won’t do it.

    Riddle me this: why is the title of the game written in English, but not the interface?

    • Skurmedel says:

      In Sweden a lot of business chains have ads in English, and it’s not uncommon to see for example “Summer Sale” on a store’s windows. It makes them look more global or something.

      It could be the same thing here.

    • Pony Canyon says:

      I’ve never understood this either, and have seen it in many other places, like Skurmedel pointed out.

      I could understand if the title were in both languages, but the title in English and the rest of the content in Japanese…? How does that make any sense? Anyone who speaks just English won’t be able to understand the content – and anyone who speaks just Japanese won’t be able to read the title.

    • Dominic White says:

      Basic English is standard early school curriculum material in Japan. Japanese games – even (especially?) ones never released outside of Japanese shores have large chunks of menus and text in english, and as far as I’m aware, nobody over there has any trouble with it.

    • StormTec says:

      I think the short answer would be because English is cool (over there).

    • bob_d says:

      Why do people get Chinese character tattoos that they can’t understand?

    • Byth says:

      bob_d: People in Japan do the same thing, but with hats and stuff, and for some reason video game titles. Basically, it’s just like if Chinese or Japanese tattoos applied to titles, which they don’t in the US or the UK.

    • Ziv says:

      I think I read a while back that there’s a lot of English in Japanese culture because of western influences.
      It’s like sushi becoming a common food in western culture, or Zen appearing in American businesses

    • Aninhumer says:

      Actually a majority of the rest of the interface is written in English too, just written with Japanese Katakana characters. The starting menu has only one japanese word in it.
      Meein Menyuu (Main Menu)
      Orijinaru Mappu (Original Map)
      Geemu Roodo (Game Load)
      Mappu sakusei (Map something (editor I’d guess))
      Yuuzaa Mappu (User Map)
      Opushon (Options)

    • Josh W says:

      “Geemu Roodo” That is brilliant, you can just see the accent, it’s like how the welsh for ambulance is “ambwlans” (which translating from welsh vowels is basically amboolans).

  5. Meat Circus says:

    Oh good, another one of these. Yay!

  6. snitchy says:

    aw this is super cute. i especially like how they bounce off the bottom of the screen when you restart.

  7. Kid A says:

    Needs more Minecraft.

  8. Michael says:

    “So much so that the fact it’s in Japanese shouldn’t be a huge impediment to playing it. ”

    Mr. Meer, you sir, are a liar.

    In all seriousness, the game looks lovely, and I was able to puzzle out the basic controls after a few minutes. Still, it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the “ghosts” were actually stones I could use to impede enemy movement.

  9. Colthor says:

    <3 Tower Defence!

    The bouncy baddie-corpses are a nice touch.

  10. Vhorthex says:

    What do the “priests” do? I see them get XP but I have no clue what they are for… Anyone?

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Says “range upgrade” when you buy them. That seems to be one thing they do.

  11. Chaosgabe says:

    Fun game

  12. Berzee says:

    It’s so diffffffficult!

    I like the art and subject matter so much better than most tower defense games though. Gems? Towers? Give me HEROES! With apparently broken legs!

  13. President Weasel says:

    so cutesy!
    But addictive. You’ll never take my 8-bit castle, cutesy baddies!

  14. Dominic White says:

    The great thing about videogames is that they are a language unto themselves. I’ve played some fairly heavyweight Japanese strategy-RPGs without knowing so much as a single word of the language, simply because the menus are intuitively laid out and you can infer what things mean just from general gaming knowledge.

  15. PleasingFungus says:

    Just played through the first level; managed it on the second try. Super adorable, and I didn’t even have any sound on!

    I still have no idea what the priests do (something with the undead…?), or what most of the upgrades are for (what on earth is the purple harpoon archer upgrade? What’s the difference between the axe and the shield upgrade, except that the shield one has shorter range?), or what the green castle upgrades do, or…

    …but it’s still great fun, which says something, I think!

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Upgrades seem to be power/attack speed/range upgrades for the swordsman/archer/mage, last three are priest range, income, and something that has to do with castles but I’m not quite sure what it’s all about.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Oh, sorry, I was talking about the general upgrades, not the unit-specific ones. If you’re thinking of the stuff the archer get at level 3, under the text “class change”, you get to choose between hunter and ranger. Former gives you +3 anti-air, the latter +5 poison. (Most of this stuff is English, just written with katakana, so it’s not that hard to decipher even with my minimal knowledge)

      EDIT: Quick list:

      Swordsman -> Guard (Halt movement), Warrior (Splash)
      Archer -> Hunter (Anti-air), Ranger (Poison)
      Mage -> Warlock (Pumpkin Bomb), Wizard (Multi-attack)
      Priest -> Bishop (Power up), Sorcerer (Slow)

  16. Tei says:

    I love TD games, and this one is great, and has really nice ideas. All the RPG-leveling trown it really fit.

    I have no idea about the text, but I manage to have a long game :-D

  17. Jad says:

    Don’t like [genre] games? Then bugger off. Go on, right over there. No, further. Further. Further. Further. Further. Further. Further.

    There you go. You’re now far enough away to safely move onto the next post that does interest you and thus not pollute this one with claptrap like ‘meh’ and ‘oh god not another one of these.’

    I sincerely wish that every single post on this website would start with this warning. Maybe then I could get interesting and insightful comments (either pro or con, if well-argued) without having to wade through meaningless posts by eternally grumpy people.

    Anyway, I really love the aesthetic. The deciphering Japanese reminds me of my emulation days (playing Seiken Densetsu 3 was fun but baffling).

    Also, when it comes to games with new (well, sort of new) mechanics with old-school graphics, does it ever make anyone else notice how, you know, game mechanics have actually progressed since the old days, not just visuals? I mean, TD games clearly could have worked on the NES, as this shows, so why weren’t there lots of them back then? (unless there were, and I’m just ignorant). Why wasn’t VVVVVV released as a C64 game or whatever? Sort of a silly question, because the answer is “Terry Cavanagh is very clever and creative”, but it’s interesting to think about.

  18. Carra says:

    Fun game.

    Build stuff, upgrade stuff.

    And wonder what the heck those priests are there for.

  19. President Weasel says:

    Do they maybe buff the other little mans? Or reduce the baddies’ armour with their aura?
    Or perhaps they leech off a credulous populace, taking resources while contributing nothing of use to society?

  20. noobnob says:

    There are three different gamemodes for each map, one of them letting you build (hire/summon?) monsters instead and another one has fixed upgrade pricing, as in your heroes don’t earn EXP and they have fixed upgrade costs. There seems to be a sandbox map as well, but I have no idea how it works.

    Pretty damn nice DT game, this is one of those moments that you regret not learning japanese when you had the chance.

    As for the priests, I think that they slow down incoming monsters. There’s an upgrade path that lets them throw very slow bomb projectiles. Not sure if it deals AoE damage, but I assume it does.

    • President Weasel says:

      I am pretty sure the slow bombs are a disappointing upgrade to your wizards, not your priests. But the boost thing Berzee suggests seems to be true.

  21. tapanister says:

    Meh, not another one of those.

  22. cov says:

    Holy crap look at it! JUST LOOK AT IT.

    My loins are frothing with the pixely perfection of its 32 color glands.

    I am ready.

  23. Berzee says:

    Priests, among other things, increase the range of your mans. (The green circle icon stands for range, and priests uppit!) I have no idea what else they do, but I guess they serve a similar purpose to “boost towers” in other games

  24. MrEvilGuy says:

    Originally, this was a comment responding to Jad, but I started to go in an entirely different direction.

    In trendy genres, like Tower Defense, I think a decent play through of a TD game provides everyone with that “TD satisfaction”. Then it gets boring. But a few months later, we want to have that experience again.

    Thought experiment: If there was only one TD game in existence – let us say an average one – would people keep going back to that one TD game over and over again? I think so, in general, yes (although it depends on the individual).
    However, since we have a vast variety of TD games, we might as well try new ones rather than play the same one over and over again. Therefore, I think it is an illusion to think that the game mechanics are improving over time (in context of the average TD game, I don’t think there are many huge leaps in game mechanics).

    Well, the question is whether developers actually improve on game mechanics, or whether they just add a unique feature which tries to set it apart from other titles.

    I think it depends on the genre. A tower defense game does not require much uniqueness, because the standard formula is what people want when they go back to refill their TD satisfaction.

    The same holds for these 2 examples: FPS games in general, and MMORPGs (I know there is room for great changes, but the standard formula holds a tight leash on many).

    But look at RTS games… many people can’t play old fashioned RTS games now, they just get too boring because nobody spends enough time improving the game mechanics.
    Yet, Starcraft 2, a prime example of a perfect old fashioned RTS game, is still exciting, because the game mechanics have been perfected by Blizzard.

    However, TD games seem much more limited in scope for their game mechanics, so I can’t imagine anybody would really care too much about perfecting TD in the way Blizzard perfects old fashioned RTS (I know there are vast differences between these two genres, so perhaps I’m starting to get out of hand).

    TD games need change in visuals to attract people, not really a change in mechanics.

    There, I’m done my semi-ramble semi-argument.

    In case anyone cares, I’m on a concerta high right now, so I get super focused and that’s why I write so much.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Oh. I just wanted to ask you why you wrote this. That explains it then.

  25. Harbour Master says:

    Most of the following is pretty obvious anyway, but what here’s what a cursory glance gets me:

    Main Menu
    Original Map (original as in “built-in”)
    Load Game
    Make Map
    Play Another Player’s Map

    Auto Save YES/NO
    [Save] [Cancel]

    The four buttons in third box down in the game sidebar are officially referred to as Swordsman, Archer, Mage and Priest.

    Upgrades Box

    The first row is Attack Power
    The second row is Attack Speed
    The third row is Attack Range
    with the columns left-to-right corresponding to Swordsman, Archer and Mage.

    Bottom row:
    Priest Effect Range
    Increase Revenue on Killing Monsters
    Allow You To Put Unit On Castle

    The next box down just gives a description of the area (mountain, wood, etc.) above what appears effects on stats.

    Power Button
    The power button offers four options: Retry, Quit, Load & Cancel

  26. KingCathcart says:

    Is this far enough away?

  27. Pope Guilty says:

    The art is cute, but the gameplay is pretty shallow.

  28. dtb says:

    Maybe this will help some :
    link to gite.fc2web.com

    And the priest’s use is to increase the range of ranged attack units.

    Ususally I hate tower defenses, but this one makes my day ! Thank you :)

  29. DMJ says:

    I don’t speak or read Japanese. Can someone tell me what I am supposed do with the thing that looks a bit like a snake eating the world? It tries to bite the cursor and when I click on it someone delivers fish to my door.

  30. Gaming says:

    Oh good, another one of these. Yay!

  31. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I quite like this, hard to know what I am doing, but like Alec, after some pointlessly random clicking I found something that made something happen and yeah, it’s cute enough, and I didn’t get raped in the first round, well I think it was the first round, what the hell did I do?

  32. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    They deserve direct hits.. in the face! *ahem*

    Will try this one. Later.

  33. Gravy says:

    Good but not Pixeljunk Monsters.

  34. Cpt.Average says:

    Useful Hotkeys I’ve found:

    1-9: Selects equivalent unit to build. (ie 1=Swordsman, 2=Archer etc.)

    D: Shows the Land route to castle.
    F: Shows the route Flyers will take.
    S: Shows the grid (squares)
    A: Audio options

    Q: Shows range of all Swordsmen
    W: Shows range of all Archers
    E: Shows range of all Wizards
    F: Shows range of all Priests
    (These work for the other modes as well)

    Z: Pause
    X: Resume
    C: 3x Speed
    V: Menu button

    • Cpt.Average says:

      Annoyingly, Delete doesn’t delete units despite being marked ‘DEL’ :(

      And if anyone finds the LevelUp shortcut let me know.