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Pirates Love Daisies is an HTML5 homage to Plants vs Zombies, made by a Flash zealot

Pirates Love Daisies
If you took a specific subsection of plants -- daisies -- and headed down to the Popular Archetypes store to exchange your zombies for pirates, you'd be about 90% of the way to making a tower defense game called Pirates Love Daisies. It's that last 10%, however -- a little flash of brilliance with a soupcon of quirkiness -- that makes the game. In this case, it's HTML5; Plants Love Daisies is one of the most accomplished HTML-CSS-and-JavaScript games to date. With a truly excellent interface, it plays like a mature, latter-generation Flash game, but it retains the svelte efficiency of HTML, with barely a blip on the CPU graph.

If you've never played a tower defense game, now's your chance. Pirates Love Daisies is easy to play, family-friendly, and features a tutorial that walks you through the mechanics of the game. The visual style is nothing short of beautiful (but cute), and the soundscape is excellent. The point, though, is that Pirates Love Daisies is written in HTML5 -- and when you realize those scudding clouds, buzzing flies and droplets of rain are all being rendered by the browser, your mind blows.

That's not to say the game is without issues, though; despite looking the best in Internet Explorer 9 beta 2, it crashed multiple times (see screenshot after the break), and Firefox 4 beta 7 didn't even get past the loading screen. Firefox 4 also had significantly degraded audio, for some reason. Chrome 9 worked just fine, but seemed to use more resources than IE9.

Pirates Love Daisies, HTML5 tower defense game

In Pirates Love Daisies, not enough attention has been paid to the core aspects of a tower defense game. The upgraded towers don't look significantly different, which is crippling when you need to quickly upgrade a tower and can't tell at a glance which towers can be upgraded. There's no feedback -- you can't see the actual, numerical effects of each tower, so it's hard to work out whether it's better to build more towers, or upgrade existing ones. It would be nice if you had warnings of upcoming 'air waves,' too -- I lost quite a few daisies after not having enough musketeers to take down the seagulls!

It's not all bad, though: at least each tower has a keyboard shortcut, and you can hit Space to upgrade a selected tower (it's quite hard to select a tower, however...) You can hit 'W' to speed up the arrival of the next wave, too.

It's also worth noting that Pirates Love Daises was created by Grant Skinner's studio, which historically has been known for its work in Flash. He has posted a blog post detailing the creation of the game, but unfortunately there isn't much developery meat to sink your teeth into. They were impressed with JavaScript's performance, and they're excited by IE9's standards compliance, but that's about it.

Microsoft, incidentally, hired Grant Skinner's studio to make Pirates Love Zombies Daisies -- and as you can see, if you visit the game's website, it's hosted on Windows Azure. Microsoft also funded, or helped develop, almost all of the Beauty of the Web demos. I'm desperately trying to see Microsoft's masterplan when it comes to extolling the virtues of HTML5, but it's looking more and more like I have to come to terms with an ugly truth: Microsoft really just wants the Web to move on and away from its ugly, Flash-based past.

Incidentally, Lee and I originally wanted to class this as a 'Time Waster', but at last count, Lee's been playing for about three hours straight. As a result, we're forced to bump this one up to "jolly good family fun for at least an hour."

Tags: beauty of the web, BeautyOfTheWeb, browser, browsers, chrome, firefox, games, html5, ie9, internet explorer 9, InternetExplorer9, microsoft