Bloons TD 5 Review

Monkeys, balloons, and sharp objects — what could go wrong? In Bloons TD 5, not much. This tower defense game isn’t innovative, but it does everything right.

There’s no getting around it: if you’ve played tower defense games, you’ve played this game several times before. It works exactly the way you’d expect it to work, so much so that developer, Ninja Kiwi, doesn’t even bother with a tutorial.

First-timers might get a little lost without that tutorial, but the initial levels move slowly and there’s plenty of time to pick up the game. The balloons move down the track from one end of the screen to the other, and you place monkeys armed with darts to shoot the balloons. Every balloon popped gets you a small amount of cash, every level gives you a little more cash, and you spend your money to buy upgrades and new monkeys.

“Death to the latex hordes!”

It’s the depth that makes the game worth playing. There are over twenty maps to play at three different difficulty levels, plus an endless horde mode and a limited cash mode. There are eighteen different towers of monkeys to build, plus a small host of ‘special agents’ that you can hire using in-game currency. Add in 10 ‘special missions’ and 250 ‘random missions’ featuring unusual combinations of the maps and the rules, and you’ll be putting a lot of hours into the game before you see everything.

The monkeys cover all the strategic bases of a tower defense game with a variety of cute themes. There are cannons, spike droppers, monkeys slowing the balloons down with glue guns, monkeys in boats for the water levels, and monkeys patrolling the air in planes and helicopters — not to mention the wizards, ninjas, superheroes, and boomerang artists. Each monkey has two upgrade paths, giving you plenty of options to increase damage, push balloons around, or deal with specialized enemies like hard-to-kill lead balloons and giant dirigibles.

There is one limit to the cornucopia of destruction. No matter which variation you play, the same sequence of balloons will come out every time on every map. This helps you plan your strategy, but it also means you get about the same amount of money in every game, and must always be preparing for specific boss attacks like the big dirigible in level 46. You’ll find yourself playing the same strategy a lot, because it’s what fits your budget and the enemies that you’re expecting.

Well, it’s better than monkeys throwing you-know-what.

Fortunately, the different maps keep things fresh. While the early maps make it easy for beginners to repeat their success, later maps change up the game with multiple paths, teleport portals, and other sneaky tricks. Solving the puzzle presented by each map is a highlight of the game.

Beating a map earns you in-game currency and tokens, which can be used to tweak the game’s settings or buy the special agents. These agents are super-units that can help you get over the hump if you’re stuck on a map, but they are an optional complication that you may just want to ignore. You can also buy tokens or currency with an in-app purchase, but there’s no pressure or need to do so.

Bloons TD 5 is the perfect example of a well-made sequel. If you’re bored with tower defense games, this one won’t change your mind. Otherwise, you’ll find a lot to like in this barrel of balloon-popping monkeys.

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