January 02, 2016

Demon spirits in Totem Topple

A description of the new Totem Topple game for Nintendo:Build your totem pole up into the sky and stars beyond in Totem Topple, a fresh twist on the tower defence genre!

Wolves, bears, deer and more--stack different totem heads on your tower, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Add protective wings and arrow-firing bird beaks to fend off the demon spirits trying to knock your totem pole down!
And a review:

Totem Topple Review

By Alex SeedhouseThe publisher over promises in saying that Totem Topple presents “a fresh twist on the tower defence genre,” falling way short of achieving such admirable ambition. Players are tasked with defending a totem pole from demon spirits hell bent on knocking it down, which is certainly a concept that most won’t have come across before. But the underlying game mechanics lack refinement, resulting in an experience that overwhelms in the challenge hidden by its otherwise simplistic facade.

The structure is easy enough to understand, with players left to steadily construct their totem pole by selecting from beak, wing and head components. These fire arrows, grant protection and increase your totem’s height respectively, and managing your resources to create them becomes a focal challenge. Supplies are earned through defeating demon spirits, and the cycle completes in which you either strengthen your defences or rapidly move to replace anything that has been destroyed.

Comment:  The reviewer doesn't mention any problems with basing a game on a totem pole, but I will.

1) The game treats the totem pole as a decorative object, an accessory, not as important part of Native culture and religion. I don't know if Natives would consider poles sacred or not, but they may be akin to Christian icons or paintings. You generally wouldn't turn those into angry games.

2) The nasty faces, sharp beaks, and black color of the totem pole suggest that Native culture is dark and violent. Actually, the totems on a pole represent clan stories and origins. They aren't meant to scare people.

3) I guess the "demon spirits" are the little round objects with eight spikes. Those actually look like sun symbols. In any case, they reinforce the idea that Native religion is demonic and evil, with deadly forces lurking in every shadow. Actually, Native religions are no worse than Christianity, with Satan influencing every decision. They're probably a lot better, on average.

For more on totem poles, see Miss Canada in a Totem-Pole Loincloth and Cultural Appropriation of Totem Poles.

Below:  I'm not sure what this human pterodactyl has to do with Totem Topple. Is it supposed to be a thunderbird? Whatever it is, it's scary!

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