While not exactly lacking for games since the release of firmware 2.0 back in July, picking quality gaming titles out of the hundreds available on the App Store can be quite a chore.  That’s why I was so pleased when I stumbled across Fieldrunners, a tower defense game that’s as addictive as it is well-suited for the platform.

Those who read the site should know we’re no strangers to tower defense.  Our countless mentions of Desktop Tower Defense and PixelJunk Monsters should prove us old hat at the genre.  So what is it that sets FieldRunners apart?  It’s a little bit of nothing, and a little bit of everything.

At it’s very core, Fieldrunners is basic to the point of limited.  There’s one map, and it’s just an open field.  You’re only given four types of weapons to build.  Each can be upgraded, but all it does is increase the weapons effectiveness rather than add in some cool new element.  On paper, it sounds completely mundane.  But once you get into it?  What Fieldrunners has done is stripped away so much of the showiness that other games have included and focussed on the raw elements that make the genre great.  Bad guys try to get from the left side of the map to the right side, and you need to squish them like bugs.  It’s simple.  It’s elegant.  It’s timeless.

The real strategy behind success in this game is to build as deadly a maze as you can with your four types of towers without letting any of the bad guys get through in the early stages.  Once you get things set up you still have to watch for flying baddies like helicopters that’ll just bypass your carefully laid plans.

Fieldrunners couldn’t make better use of the touch screen.  It’s so well crafted that I’m praying we see more tower defense games on the App Store that follow in its footsteps.  All you have to do is touch one of the four weapons icons, then touch the place you want to put it on the battlefield.  Upgrades just involve a quick touch on an already existing unit.  The developers have also hit that sweet spot on visuals — not so great that they’re a technical achievement, but artistically original enough that it gives the game a very distinct vibe.

Free content updates are also planned that should include new maps, weapons, and the introduction of sound (right now you can provide your own soundtrack by using your iPod for it’s primay function).  Let’s just hope the addition of content doesn’t wreck the simplicity of now.

At $4.99 this could honestly become my pick for value of the year (and yes, I say that even after playing Wipeout HD).  It’s pretty, it’s fun, it’s highly addictive.  In my short time with an iPod Touch, I can honestly say this is the most fun I’ve had on a handheld device all year.

Fieldrunners is available through the iTunes App Store for the iPod Touch and iPhone.  Click here to buy.