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Protect a tree against insect invaders in Bonsai Defense

Tiny tree resources

Monday morning's coffee break brought me Bonsai Defense [itch.io page]. It's a little tower defence game where you tend a bonsai tree. It's not a meditative experience in any way. This is more of a game version of my ongoing conflict with the slugs and snails which snack on my irises. In case you think the name sounds familiar, we wrote about Bonsai Defense back in 2012 when it was a free graduation project but it has been through a rework and is now re-released as a paid affair.

The purpose of the game is to generate and collect nectar while defending your bonsai from insect attacks. There are little acorn-type fruits along the branches and you can convert these to perform different tasks - there are offensive fruits which might shoot at or lash out at the invading forces, defensive options which make it harder for them to infect the tree branches, and the types of fruit you need to power and generate the nectar mechanisms.

It's not perfect - navigation is frustrating and I found the UI really hit and miss when it came to actually imparting information while you are playing. Sometimes I'd set up a pruning fruit to cut away some infected branches and be none the wiser as to why it sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. It also feels like the balance of the game is slightly off and I never got to the point of winning a round. I'm not sure how much of that is about the UI making it a bit harder to parse what's going on at any given time. BUT I really liked the basic idea, and it's odd-but-nice to look at and it's $4 so not an expensive experiment if you're curious to see it for yourself.

If you are interested in my current real-world garden warfare, I now have a slug and snail pot which I use to collect the little jerks as I do a circuit of the garden. They then try to escape as I collect the rest of them and sometimes you get smaller snails trying to ride bigger snails to freedom. Or they try to get it on in the pot. Then I empty the pot near the bird nesting site and leave nature to take its course. I figure the snails which make it back probably deserve a tiny nibble of the flower bed, and then the whole process starts again.

Other things I have tried: beer (I think it makes them drunk and then hungry), not salt (I AM NOT MADE OF SALT also this feels crueller than birds), copper tape (you end up with slimy copper tape and eaten flowers), constructing a tiny assault course by the gate in case they decide to use human access routes, explaining that this is theft and vandalism and that I will phone the mollusc police, explaining the situation to the birds in the hopes that it sounds yummy, creating food diversions in the hopes that they get distracted, not pesticides because I don't want to harm anything else that lives out there.

There is something very satisfying about yanking these idiots off the flower bed and chucking them in the pot, though. Sun Tzu should have added that to his Little Book Of War.

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About the Author

Philippa Warr

Former Staff Writer

Pip wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2014-2017, covering everything from MOBAs, hero brawlers and indie curios. She also had a keen interest in the artistry of video game creation, and was very partial to keeping us informed of the latest developments in British TV show Casualty.