The Best iPhone Tower Defense Games 2009 + Giveaway

“Warning, meltdown imminent!” Your mission: build defenses to kill the creeps and protect the tower. Sounds easy enough, right? Don’t for one moment think that it’s not going to be a challenge.

We’ve come to love these tower defense games for what they have to offer — they’re simple, easy to learn and most importantly, really fun to play. But which are the best tower defense games for the iPhone? The first name that comes to mind is Fieldrunners — I’m pretty sure that almost everyone who owns an iPhone would have played or seen this game in action. It’s exciting and honestly, pretty darn addictive.

What? You think I’m just going to hand the trophy over to Fieldrunners? Think again. I’ve found a couple of challengers vying to reign victor. Find out which games got Fieldrunners’ panties in a knot, after the jump.

Giveaway: We have 5 promo codes for every game listed here to be given away to our readers. How do you get one? Instructions are at the end of the post.


For those who aren’t familiar with this game, let me run you through a brief intro. If memory serves correctly, Fieldrunners was the first proper tower defense game for the iPhone. During that time, it had no sound (if I’m not mistaken) and only had 1 map but it sure has come a long way since then.

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Fieldrunners now has several maps and gameplay modes as well as some exciting new firepower in its arsenal. Unlike other tower defense games, it doesn’t have a fixed path for the creeps to walk in. And that’s not a bad thing because you can create your own path by building your weapons in such a way to determine where the creeps should go. This allowed a certain mode of cheating by directing the creeps back and forth the rows of guns.

best iphone tower defense game

Fieldrunners is the kind of game that just goes on and on. Not much planning is involved so you can have fun with it whether you’re playing for 5 minutes or 5 hours. The next version of Fieldrunners will integrate social play networking which will allow you to submit high scores and challenge friends.

What I like about Fieldrunners:

    -Its vibrant colours makes it visually-pleasing
    -A “boss” every 10 rounds adds some challenge
    -Lots of distinctly different creeps, each with their own strengths and weaknesses
    -A particular method of cheating makes winning pretty certain

Fieldrunners [iTunes Store link] is available from the iTunes Store at $2.99.

Star Defense

A very worthy contender indeed. Star Defense is a stunning, graphically-intense 3D tower defense game set in space. Your mission is to protect the universe consisting of 7 worlds from alien invasion.

What’s different in Star Defense is the fact that it pulled away from the norm, took a simple tower defense game and made it 3-dimensional. The result? Simply fantastic. When ngmoco debuted Star Defense in WWDC earlier this year, I was blown away. Realistically, playing this game on my 2G iPhone isn’t optimum, to say the least. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop my friends from constantly borrowing it just to play Star Defense.

In this game, the creeps attack in waves; with a small interval in between to allow you to buy new defenses and upgrade existing ones. When you’re done, hit the timer and the next wave of creeps will emerge. There is a fixed pathway so you’ll know exactly where the creeps will start coming from.

Having shown you the galaxy map with 7 worlds to protect, a finishing point was implied. This game puts the pressure on you early. In other words, you have a mission and this game isn’t entirely just for fun. You sort of have to finish it.

What I like about Star Defense:

    -Very different gameplay and presentation, 3D does add a “wow” factor
    -Mission-based, can be rewarding if played consistently
    -Supports Plus+ social play network
    -Preview of the next wave of creeps allows preparation for it

Star Defense is perfect for average to serious gamers with the drive to complete the game.

Star Defense [iTunes Store link] is available from the iTunes Store at $0.99. There is a free version called Star Defense Prelude [iTunes Store link] that offers one of the 7 worlds to anyone who is willing to defend it.

Geo-Defense & Geo-Defense Swarm

I’ve grouped these 2 games together because they were developed by the same company but in fact, they’re quite different. Geo-Defense (GD, for short) offers the same type of gameplay as Star Defense i.e. fixed pathway. GD Swarm, on the other hand, allows you to forge your own pathway — akin to Fieldrunners. All I can say for both of these games is: don’t be fooled by the simplistic graphics. My initial (and honest to God) reaction when I killed my first creep was, “Wooooaaaw!”

GD isn’t particularly concerned about its interface and presentation, as you can clearly see from the retro-looking screenshots above. What it lacks in the presentation, it makes up in gameplay — that, after all, is more important. The explosions after killing creeps are nothing less than phenomenal — shock waves spread out over the map and sparks fly everywhere. It’s bleeding chaotic! Sometimes, the blasters kill so many creeps that I can’t see anything through the sparks but still, I’m sitting there going, “Oh, yeeeah.”

GD Swarm is basically the same game but it allows you to place your defenses anywhere you like, molding a pathway for the creeps to go through. The creeps come out through the green hexagon and move toward the red one. And since the starting and end points are hexagons, there are obviously multiple entries and exits.

Static images don’t justify the awesomeness of the gameplay. You have to try it for yourself.

What I like about GD and GD Swarm:

    -Extremely addictive and simple to play
    -Supports OpenFeint, another social play network
    -Not immensely intense on graphics means smooth gameplay on older iPhones
    -Plays music from the iPod during the game

Geo-Defense [iTunes Store link] and Geo-Defense Swarm [iTunes Store link] both go for $1.99. There’s a free version of GD with 2 out of the 3 levels of difficulties and 6 maps [iTunes Store link] — still loads of fun.

Sentinel 2: Earth Defense

This is a slightly more complex tower defense game compared to the first four. In Sentinel 2, you play a Commander in charge of defending Earth against alien invasion (sound familiar?). Graphically, the game is way up there with Star Defense and Fieldrunners.

In addition to the weapons you can build around the pathway, there are also several other defense options that can be claimed after accumulating sufficient energy. They come in pretty handy if the creeps managed to pass by your turrets unscathed.

Like I said, Sentinel 2 is slightly more complicated because of the types of creeps and different weapon options. Nevertheless, the feeling of satisfaction you get after killing every wave of creeps is roughly the same. The game is also mission-based that is rewarded by playing it frequently.

What I like about Sentinel 2:

    -Interesting variety of weapons
    -Many different types of creeps, some are can be invisible
    -Challenge friends through OpenFeint’s social play network
    -Fast forward mode speeds up gameplay
    -Plays iPod music during the game

Sentinel 2: Earth Defense [iTunes Store link] is priced at $2.99 but the prelude, Sentinel: Mars Defense [iTunes Store link] is free for a limited time.


Probably the toughest and most challenging tower defense game for the iPhone, hands down. There is a reason why it’s called TriDefense — creeps attack from the ground, air and water. There are also multiple entry sites, which is what makes this game really difficult to win. Strangely, even though its graphics are pretty good and offers a decent zoom level, it didn’t bog down on my 2G iPhone.

As soon as you start playing, you’ll notice the enormity of the map you’ll have to defend. Entry sites are indicated by waves on the sides of the screen. The game supports 3-dimension positional audio — by using headphones, you can “hear” where the next wave creeps will be coming from. Yup, that’s pretty mind-blowing.

TriDefense allows you to manipulate the map. By building around the entry points (or on water), you can dictate the direction for the creeps to move. However, air-borne creeps continue to travel as the crow flies. Again, the map is pretty huge so you’ll have to keep an eye out for creeps from every direction.

What I like about TriDefense:

    -It’s an all-rounder: great graphics, mission-based gameplay
    -2x and 4x game speeds
    -3D positional audio support when using headphones
    -Supports OpenFeint social play network
    -The emphasize of gameplay is on weapons and strategy, not on the creeps

TriDefense is really hard to beat. It takes a dedicated player to win it; so it offers long-term gaming possibilities.

At $2.99, TriDefense [iTunes Store link] is a steal for hours of fun it provides. There is a free version available [iTunes Store Link] that packages the tutorial and Mission:01.

Giveaway: We have 5 promo codes for each game to give away! Valid for US iTunes Store accounts only. To get your hands on any one of these exciting tower defense games, either:

    1. Share this post on Facebook by clicking on the Share button below or;
    2. Click on the retweet button to share on Twitter or;
    3. Do both!

Then tell us where you’ve shared it and which game you would prefer: Fieldrunners, Star Defense, Geo-Defense, Geo-Defense Swarm, Sentinel 2 or TriDefense. You’re only allowed to choose one. Don’t forget to enter your email so that we can get in touch with you. The giveaway will end after we get 100 requests on Christmas day. Winners will be chosen randomly. Enjoy!

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