NinjaKiwi long ago set the standard for flash-based tower defense games with their Bloons Tower Defense series. The original was a relatively simple affair, but over the years, the Bloons content as, well, ballooned its way upwards and outwards into our collective consciousness, bringing its increasingly substantial variety of Bloon-popping monkeys and levels in which to utilise them along for the ride. Bloons Tower Defense 5, for some, is the peak of NinjaKiwi’s tower defense excellence. So successful was BTD5 that it moved its way over to the mobile platform, so it feels right to cover the original flash game in a short yet informative review.
Bloons wouldn’t be Bloons without its solid basis of tower-defense magic. The format is as expected: you play on unique levels with built-in paths winding their way around the screen while waves of balloons come floating in and around in a calculated (yet increasingly unpredictable) manner. It’s your job to place towers in order to try and pop these balloons before they escape. You’re given a limit on how many balloons you’re allowed to let slip by your defences. Once your escaped-balloon allowance hits zero, it’s game over. The objective, therefore, is to pop as many, if not all the balloons present on the screen.
In the usual Bloons manner, your towers consist of a variety of different monkeys. Each monkey tower has its own abilities and propensity for certain kinds of balloons whilst being weak against other types. It’s a matter of carefully thought-out strategy, therefore, when going about your tower selection and your placing of them at strategic points on the screen.
What makes Bloons TD5 so unique is its rich selection of monkey towers. These towers range from your standard dart-throwing monkey through to more specialised simians that are able to destroy certain types of balloons more efficiently. There’s no use using standard monkeys against fortified balloons, for example, so you have to earn your way to better towers by doing well in the early stages.
There’s a lively upgrade system that allows you to upgrade each of your towers up through 8 stages of improvement. You’ll need these upgraded towers to deal with special balloons such as camouflage balloons (which are much trickier than ever to defeat). The range of balloons is as impressive as ever, such as regrowth balloons, ultra-tough blimps, and ceramic balloons.
There have been a few additions this time around, with two new tower types introduced into the action as well as an additional type of balloon known as the ZOMG. The ZOMG is a beast, requiring around 4000 standard hits before it even transforms to a lesser form.
Other additions include new Secret Agents, which are single-use items. These are purchased in the usual fashion (with Monkey Money), and can only be used once per round, yet have the advantage of being able to turn the tables on a screen that becomes increasingly more populated with difficult-to-pop balloons.
Bloons has always had a very unique look, making it one of the more memorable tower-defense titles out there. NinjaKiwi, the game’s developers, have admittedly simplified the graphics somewhat, largely because the quantity of balloons on the screen in the latter stages of the game made everything slow down considerably. Even with the simplification however, the game looks fantastic. Each balloon has its own individual design into which there has clearly been put a lot of thought and creativity. The monkeys also have their own design and animations, again with a lot of individuality that makes them a clear product of a painstaking design process.
Because the game is so fun to play, you can also easily ignore the microtransactions that have been introduced to the game. These don’t affect the gameplay negatively at all – they’re largely optional extras that true fans of the game can indulge in if they see fit. You don’t even need to register in order to enjoy the game in its entirety, which is another mark in the positive column for the ever-innovative NinjaKiwi.
In summation, Bloons Tower Defense 5 is an absolute must-play for any tower defense fan out there. The mobile version is obviously a great boon to NinjaKiwi as well as the fans, but the flash version on which it is based is just as rich in variety and visual design as its mobile counterpart. The gameplay is slick, the towers/bloons inventive, and the whole package is simply too stunning in appearance and too addictive in gameplay to not sink hour after hour attempting to defeat its many challenges.