Bloons is the unquestioned king of flash games. However, its tower defense counterpart is arguably much more influential. For an entire generation of gamers, it was the first foray into the genre. Some may even say it made it popular. Now NinjaKiwi has brought over their award-winning Bloons Tower Defense to the iPhone with an extra layer of polish, and for the most part we are impressed.
We assume you’ve played a tower defense game before, so we won’t go into details on the gameplay itself. Bloons Tower Defense is path-based, meaning baddies (bloons, in this case) follow a set path to your base. Every bloon that makes it past your defenses will take away a life. If a bloon has more than bloon one inside it, you will lose even more lives.
The wide array of towers creates a variety of strategies to suit different play styles. Some, such as Dart Monkeys and Tack Towers, pop bloons in the good ol’ fashion way. Others take a more extremist approach with ninja boomerangs and massive missiles that cause splash damage. A solid upgrade system gives each tower four extra attributes.
Once you pop, you can’t stop.
Two of our favorite towers were the radar tower and super monkeys. The radar tower can be upgraded to expand and quicken any monkey in its range, and for a premium price you can unlock a special monkey squad move that wipes the entire screen clear of any bloons. Super monkeys are the most expensive towers but are key in later rounds. Their laser and plasma vision are the strongest attacks in the game, plus epic range covers practically the entire map.
You can also place traps along the path such as glue and piles of spikes. These last until they are used up or the end of the round. They are not always useful, but in early rounds they provide a cheap last resort.
There are 15 different levels spread across five map packs. These include six from the flash game, plus nine exclusive to the iPhone. As you score medals on unlocked maps by reaching round 50, a new pack opens up. Each is very different and calls for a different strategy, but bloon waves are primarily the same.
All three difficulty levels are balanced to accommodate tower defense veterans and casual players picking up the genre for the first time. Easy rounds start you off with more funds, less expensive towers, and more lives. As you scale up the difficulty, all of these will change as well.
Monkeys on a race track. What’ll they come up with next?
Bloons Tower Defense does have some hindrances that get annoying. A flawed user interface will have you regularly dragging the wrong tower from the selection bars on either side of the screen and wasting money. Dragging to the trash can when you make a mistake takes multiple tries, meaning you have a high likelihood of placing down a tower anyway. This can be somewhat helped with the alternative control method where you need to confirm any tower’s placement, but during a round this is far too slow to work.
When multiple towers are placed near each other, you can tap a general area to shuffle through them. This is a neat idea, but the random nature of the method makes it tedious. Also, the upgrade panel blocks a good half of the screen, making it difficult to see the range of many towers.
In the current age of numerous free online scoring services, we are a little baffled that NinjaKiwi did not implement one into Bloons Tower Defense. Unfortunately, this could damage its long-term appeal.
Despite some missteps, we still had more fun with Bloons Tower Defense than we have had with any other entry to the genre in a long time. The not-so-serious undertones kept the mood lighthearted, which gives it great casual appeal. If you are in need of a good tower defense game, chances are high that this is for you.