Every so often someone comes up with a game that is so new and innovative that everyone starts copying it and as a result a whole new genre of games is spawned. That is what has happened with tower defense games. Not so long ago, there was no such thing as a tower defense game. Then in 2007, David Scott released Flash Element Tower Defense. The game proved a hit and in almost no time other developers were mimicking the game play that Scott had pioneered.
Now, just three years after Flash Element TD's launch, there are literally hundreds of tower defense games available. Here, we present you with a list of what we consider to be the Top 30 Online Tower Defense Games. All the games can be played in your browser for free. Enjoy!
Gemcraft offers one of the most interesting - and certainly the most successful - twists on the tower defense genre. In this game, you play a wizard defending the land against evil critters. Just like in most TD games, you use towers to kill the monsters. But in Gemcraft, unlike in many TD games, the towers don't initially come with any special abilities or powers.
They are simply towers. You imbue them with powers by installing magic gems in them. Red gems, for example, might make a tower shoot fireballs at an enemy, green ones might poison your enemies. That on its own might not be that exciting but the developer - Game in a Bottle - has given you the ability to combine gems to create super powerful towers that have multiple powers.
This mechanic gives the game a strategic depth that many tower defense games lack. Add to that a captivating story line and long campaign mode and you begin to understand why Gemcraft is one of the most highly-rated flash games of all time. The original version of the game can be played here. A sequel can be played here.
Protector is an attempt to combine tower defense and rpg game play. If the number of versions of the game are any measure - four at the last count - it has certainly been a successful attempt. In Protector, you don't use towers to fight off the enemies. Instead you use wizards, archers, fighters and other characters to ward off the monsters. Each character can be leveled up to unleash frightful new powers against the poor hordes of creatures.
3Bubble Tanks Tower Defense
If you like your tower defense games to offer you plenty of depth and replayability, then you will probably love Bubble Tanks TD. The game offers no less than 52 different modes, 11 unique paths for updating your towers and seven enemy types. Perhaps the game's most interesting feature, however, is the ability to merge towers into huge sprawling mega structures combining the powers of 16 standard towers. You can play Bubble Tanks TD here.
This might not have been the first tower defense game ever made but it is certainly the one that brought the genre to the attention of the masses. It blew my mind away when I first played it. Even though the game is a few years old now, it has lost none of its original charm and addictiveness. If you are looking for classic tower defense action, then you won't go wrong with this game. Desktop TD can be played here.
With its crude graphics and basic-looking maps, you could be forgiven for giving this tower defense game a miss. But if you did, you would be missing out on one of the deepest tower defense games around. Onslaught is simply brilliant. If offers you an unparalleled range of towers (or turrets, in this case) and also the ability to mix them together to create uniquely powerful defense weapons. Onslaught can be played here.
Personally, I would not have included this game quite so high up in the list. Its cute graphics and pretty basic game play are not to my taste. But I know that there are many people who love this game and would be furious if I did not place it near the top of the list. And I bow to their superior gaming knowledge. Play Bloons TD4 here.
7Flash Circle TD
Flash Element TD was one of the first tower defense games on the scene and its slick graphics and addictive game play quickly garnered a loyal following. This game is the sequel to Flash Element TD and it is everything one wants from a sequel: better graphics, deeper game play and more options. Play Flash Circle TD here.
8Defend your Honor
Tower defense games are a serious matter. Your life depends on keeping the monsters at bay. There is simply no time for humour. The developers of Defend your Honor would disagree, for they have created a tower defense game with a light-hearted storyline and an odd sense of humour.
In the game, you play an elf on a mission to recover a golden walrus from a dungeon. As you progress through the levels, you recruit friends (who in essence act the same as towers) to aid you. This is a cute and fun game perfect for those who don't take their tower defense gaming too seriously. Play Defend your Honor here.
9VR Defender Y3K
Set in the year 3000, VR Defender Y3K puts you in charge of a poor network engineer desperately trying to fend off wave after wave of malicious computer viruses. You need to defend your network firewall using a series of virtual towers. Classic tower defense game play in a futuristic setting. You can play VR Defender Y3K here.
10Lord of War 2
This is a very good looking tower defense game with a campaign-style series of levels. The sprites for the creeps are among the best you can find in a tower defense game, and the game play itself is highly addictive. Definitely deserves its top 10 position. Play Lord of War 2 here.
This is a solid if not spectacular game that is notable for its rejection of some of the standard motifs of the tower defense genre. For a start, you can't upgrade any of the towers (well, they're actually turrets because the game has had a modern warfare theme). Instead, you unlock new and better turrets and other weapons by completing quests, and replace the old ones with the new. Canyon Defense can be played here.
12Front Line Defense
This game might not bring anything new to the tower defense genre but it is so well produced - with slick graphics and a simple to use interfaces - that one can't criticize it. The game - which has a modern military theme - is quite difficult by tower defense standards. So if you are a hardcore TDer, you won't be able to get enough of it. You can play Front Line Defense here.
Defend your picnic food from the greedy ants by carefully placing cannons. This is tower defense gaming at its most simple and all the better for it. Play Antbuster here.
A solid tower defense game with a great range of defensive weapons, inventive map designs and deep strategic game play. What more could you want. Play Warzone TD here.
15Ultimate Defense 2
The first version of this game was almost unplayable as a result of its tortuously complicated user interface. This new version is immeasurably better. Indeed, it is probably the best looking tower defense game on the list, featuring sumptuous isometric maps. The game play is quite interesting too, successfully blending rpg elements with tower defense strategy. Ultimate Defense 2 can be played here.
Some tower defense games have a modern military theme, others have a sci-fi setting while others still embrace the fantasy motif of wizards and elves. Random Defense, on the other hands, includes the whole lot. On some levels you are defending your space station from aliens, on another you are desperately fighting off jungle creatures, and... you get the drift. You can play Random Defense here.
17When Penguins Attack TD
You are not fending off evil monsters, well-armed soldiers or nasty invaders in this game. Instead, you are up against cute little penguins. Makes you wonder whether you are on the side of good. Still, them penguins need stopping and you have plenty of weapons to ensure that happens. Play When Penguins Attack here.
Snafu TD is good-looking tower defense game in the same vein as Desktop TD - there is no set route that the enemies have to take to your base, so you have to put a lot of thought into where your towers go. Snafu TD can be played here.
Rather than using towers to kill the attacking hordes, in Pirate Defense you use traps. Apart from that, the game play is pretty much the same as with a standard tower defense game. You can play Pirate Defense here.
A slick tower defense game with a grungy sci-fi feel. It features multiple defensive turrets. Some work only against ground-based enemies. Others are effective only against airborne critters. A few work against both airborne and ground-based enemies. Play Xeno Tactics here.
Featuring a similar game play mechanic to Gemcraft, Mushroom Revolution is a fun, cartoony tower defense game where the towers are replaced by cute mushrooms. Feed mushrooms different gems to grant them different critter-killing powers. Mushroom Revolution can be played here.
22Hill of Defend
This game deserves credit for its re-imagining of how tower defense games are presented. Rather than giving players a top down view, as is standard in tower defense games, Hill of Defend presents the player with a side view of the action. The enemies climb up various levels to reach your base. You build towers on the levels to fight them off. You can play Hill of Defend here.
This game is very much like Desktop TD (No 4) but with the game graphics given the appearance of being drawn with felt tip pens on a school whiteboard. Perhaps surprisingly, this style of artwork works really well, and Whiteboard TD is great fun. Play Whiteboard TD here.
In this game, you are the master of a dungeon under attack from annoying chivalrous heroes who want to woo fair maidens with their impressive deeds. You aim to spoil their plans by building lairs that grow creates to fight off the heroes. An interesting and effective take on the tower defense genre. Dungeon Defender can be played here.
25Create your own Tower Defense
This game is for people who love tower defense games so much that they want to create their own. The game gives you all the tools you need to make your own TD levels. You can also play and vote on levels designed by other. A great idea albeit one that may only appeal to tower defense fanatics. You can create your own tower defense games here.
Like Hill of Defend, this game presents the gamer with a side-on view of the action. The game also differs from the standard tower defense formula in that in addition to creating towers, you can take personal control of the chief defender, and battle attackers who get past your towers in much the same way as you would in a brawler-style side-scrolling game. You can play Towering Forever here.
27Vector Defense 2
Vector Defense 2 is a competent tower defense clone that offers players a variety of playing modes, from time attack (where you have to survive for as long as possible against endless waves of attackers) to lightning (where the enemies move twice as fast as usual). Apart from that, this is standard tower defense fare albeit with sleek vector graphics. Vector Defense 2 can be played here.
28Pixelshock's Tower Defense
A nice tower defense game featuring plenty of game modes, numerous maps and pretty isometric graphics. It is not the best tower defense game around. Nor is it by any means the worst. You can play Pixelshock's Tower Defense here.
In this unique tower defense game, you play the minions seeking to overwhelm the defenses and have to plot a path through the towers. Although it does not quite work, it is an interesting and inventive take on the genre. Play Anti-TD here.
30Mini Tower Defense
It might be the bottom of our list but it is by no means a bad example of the tower defense genre. If I had one criticism of the game, it is that the enemies are a tad on the sluggish side. Mini Tower Defense can be played here.
What do you think of our list? Would you have ordered it differently? Have we missed out any cool tower defense games. If so, share them with us in the comments section below.