For a while there, you couldn’t tiptoe through the App Store without stepping on a tower defense game. Thankfully, the genre has slowed down over the past year, probably because of market saturation. But at least one developer is hoping people are finally ready to buy another one.
Bloons TD is a long-running series of Flash games, but only the first has been ported to the iPhone. So it might look strange not to find the second and third installments on the App Store, but we don’t seem to have missed a whole lot by skipping them. Just like in the original, part four sends balloons gliding along a set path while you deploy monkeys to destroy them before they glide off the edge of the screen.
Bloons show no mercy.
True to tower defense conventions, you spend money to plant various types of attack monkeys along the path. You can choose from dart monkeys, boomerang monkeys, glue monkeys, and the like, but you also purchase one-time use items, like exploding pineapples and tacks that you can toss on the path to stop any runaway bloons that make it through your defenses.
You bring on the bloon waves by pushing a button, so you can spend as much time as you like between waves bolstering your defenses. You can deploy new monkeys or upgrade your existing monkeys up to four times in order to make them attack quicker or with more oomph. But all of this requires riches. You get one coin for each bloon you pop, plus a bonus after each wave.
Lots of convenient and thoughtful touches have been added, like an intuitive touch interface, iPod integration, a fast forward button, and Game Center leaderboards. Also, the pricier monkeys unlock as you progress through the game, so you don’t have to learn about what everything does all at once.
But Bloons TD 4 isn’t perfect. Just as you have multiple monkey types, you’ll also face various bloon types. Some bloons have other bloons inside them and must be hit two, three, or four times before they’re destroyed. Some bloons can only be harmed by explosions, while others are immune to ice attacks. It’s easy for newbies to forget which ones are which. You’ll see bloons tearing through the path, immune to your defenses, and you’ll be hard pressed to remember which particular attack is reuquired to kill it.
But that’s not the biggest problem with Bloons TD 4. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The game is well made, but that’s not enough to make it stand out in a genre as crowded as this one. Great tower defense games include Plants vs Zombies, Fieldrunners, Star Defense, geoDefense, and Axe In Face – Defense of the Daffodils. Those games either pioneered tower defense trends or did something different to stand out. Bloons TD 4 just follows the formula.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that in principle. We still had a lot of fun with the game, but it would be nice to see them go the extra mile. Regardless, if you’re in the market for another tower defense game, this one is certainly polished and enjoyable, even if it doesn’t feel very fresh.