REVIEW: Dwarf Madness

In the year whatever of our ongoing war with anything versus zombies, I have to say I’ve seen it all now. With Dwarf Madness ($1.00) and its cast of four color-coded, gold-seeking, cave-exploring little-r people, we’ve officially exhausted every option for a sparring partner against the venerable undead. There can’t be any form of man or animal, real or fanciful, that’s yet to take its turn on the front lines.

Dwarf Madness is a twin-stick shooter. Yes, it forces me to drag out the much-despised ‘zombie wave shooter’ tag, but zombies play only a marginal role in the game, one of several different types of enemies (it’s not even the most dangerous; that honor belongs to those damn flying cherubs). And while the levels are labeled in successive waves that contain ever-increasing amounts of baddies, the main objective is collecting loot and upgrading your weapon / character RPG-style when you visit the store after each run.

The standard arsenal applies; pistol, machine gun, shotgun, sniper, and launcher. Ammunition is infinite, so go ahead and fire away. It’s playable with up to four in local co-op, sharing lives (but separate HP) and the camera, while competing for the same finite gold reserves. Although it’s undoubtedly better with friends, single-player is a fine alternative, thanks to random gold layouts and tricky AI with a mob mentality. On the higher waves, you’ll have to carefully clear out rooms and corridors.

Taking the place of a traditional story, the shop and its enterprising owner are your keys to the kingdom, in terms of progression. Acquiring gold and buying out his stock advances the game in ‘chapters’, accompanied by some generally witty writing. It’s nothing too deep or groundbreaking, mind you, but the style compliments the action without taking up too much of your time. With these story bits usually comes fresh unlocks, that enable you to max out your preferred gun or offer permanent stat boosts and perks, like reduced weapon recoil, an extra life per run, etc.

Dwarf Madness - Screen

You only ever fight on the same solitary map, but once you’ve progressed enough in the shop, Hard mode becomes available. This allows you to show off your upgraded weapons and dwarf against a tougher set of re-skinned foes, with twice the gold to collect per wave and a higher percentage of gold drops from defeated enemies. It can’t take the place of a new environment or mode, but it’s a nice way to extend playtime and scale the difficulty. With the frantic arcade gameplay and multiple online high scores to chase, it’s not disheartening enough to disappoint.

Dwarf Madness doesn’t have the most inspiring title, and may turn off some with the mention of zombies, but the game is genuinely fun and easy to pick up. It’s more than worth your time until the next unlikely protagonist (Dinosaurs?) takes up the never-ending fight against those flesh-eating moneymakers.

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22 thoughts on “REVIEW: Dwarf Madness”

  1. Hmm. How about “V/H/S tapes of scrambled pornography involving a woman dressed like Christopher Columbo spanking an astronaut with the complete works of J.K Rowling” versus zombies? Have they done that before?

    1. They…. They have not! A Google Search has confirmed that, AND also put me on some kind of government watch list. I probably will not be able to leave the country now, or get within 100 meters of a school.

    2. If you cut the beard then put on sunglasses, we can escape to aruba after burying the body in guadalahara.
      There we will raise funds, go to wisconson and set up a political party known as Colition Organizing Better Residental Averages.
      First wisconson, then THE WORLD!
      (We are so off topic now…)

      Vs. Zombies.

    3. The title will have to be truncated, but I believe there’s no game like that! The bonus here is twofold, as well. Belonging to a group called COBRA is on my bucket list of things to do, as is dismantling Wisconsin! Win-win!

  2. @andregurov:

    (Gasps) First, you just committed a deep sin by referring to this ‘well-written and well-maintained reviews website’ as a…. as a…. blog!?! Excuse me while I retreat to a corner and get my uncontrollable anger under control….

    Okay, that’s a little better. Social Outcast, you say? I think you’re right, at there’s no other way to explain the insanity in covering a dying form of indie gaming on a dying console, and the people that play them! The funny part is (at least for me), that most of the entries I find on the leaderboards are for people I know in the community, even without having them on my friends list. We’re a small group.

    That said, there’s no dedicated spot for leaving your gamertag, but if you have no qualms about leaving it in the comments, go right ahead. I’ll add you the next time I’m on, and while I’m not always the stiffest competition, at least you’ll have one entry on some of the leaderboards for indie.

    1. Yeah, I goofed on that one. Definitely not a blog (recalling previous comments on this well-written and well-maintained reviews website) and I’ll take my well-merited 40 lashes for that bone-headed statement. FWIW, the guys I “run” with (a group of fellow New Orleans Saints’ fans) are heavy gamers, and the ONLY indie title they’ve played is Avatour-Vegas. If anything shows the failure of Microsoft to adequately market these games, that is definitely it (no offense to Avatour-Vegas).

    2. It’s all good. 🙂 It just sounds better when I tell people what I waste my free time doing. ‘Website’ sounds more like an achievement than ‘Blog’ does. No offense to blogs and bloggers intended, just personal preference. And Saints fans, eh? Being a Bears / Cubs fan (despite no reason anyone should be a fan) disqualifies me for that group. I guess.

      As for marketing, yeah, XBLIG got the short end of the advertising stick. The sheer number of boob and avatar games doesn’t do much to help its image, though. There’s some optimism to suggest that things will be different on Xbox One, though we’ll have to wait and see. Ultimately, having good indie games will make the difference.

    1. Or… Inanimate Objects Vs. Zombies! Paper Clips, Old Batteries, etc.

      Voiceovers could be the final frontier. With indie developers getting access to Kinect, it is possible. Why shoot when you can just -talk- the zombies to death? The wildlife documentary voice could be the equivalent of ‘explosive rounds’, used to really do heavy damage when a crowd gathers. Want to call in a ‘nuke’? Political speeches!

  3. If we do see Dinosaurs vs. Zombies, those dinos have to be like primal carnage.
    I’d rather see swat vs dinosaurs tough.

  4. It’s all treat no trick today, as thanks to the very generous crew at The Unallied, I’ve got THREE codes to give away for Dwarf Madness. Simply leave a reply to this comment, and you’re free to get your loot on.

    1. Woot…guess I’m dressing up as a Dwarf this this year and playing my free game of Dwarf Madness. I’ll be happy to take a code and have something to do today!! Thanks Tim and The Unallied!!!!

    2. Well it’s been a while since I’ve been here 🙂 but this game looks intriguing enough to give it a shot, so thanks again for giving some free copies away =)

    3. The codes shall be yours. Check your respective emails in a few. Oh, and I’m in the top 4% of the leaderboards in total coins, so you’ve got some work to do to catch up. 🙂

      To everyone else, still ONE code remains…

    4. @Sebastian: The FINAL code is yours! I’ll send it shortly.

      @David: It won’t be too hard. 🙂 Hopefully others will be online the same time as you, so the leaderboards update. I’ve probably already dropped down the board significantly.

    5. I’m bumming….I need to get gold to participate in that coin leaderboard. I’m going to have to seriously consider it. I’ve been avoiding it for a very long time but it’s getting to the point where I’m going to want it soon.

    6. Speaking of Live Gold here … is there a spot on this blog where users can exchange gamertags? As a social outcast I have no friends who play XBLIG games (which I am trying hard to not consider typical of XBLIG gamers) … and thus all my games’ leader boards are void of competition (which really hurts with all the leaderboards on Milkstone Studio games). Just wondering …

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