It is a widely known fact that there are exactly 9,510,612,925,653 Tower Defense games on the App Store. A lot of them are the same basic game but with a different theme and some small twist here and there. Now though, there is a 9,510,612,925,654th Tower Defense game that’s actually worthy of being on your iPhone or iPod Touch–Bloons Tower Defense. What exactly is Bloons Tower Defense you ask? In a nutshell it’s Bloons meets Tower Defense, and it is awesome.
Ok, so you already have 35 Tower Defense games on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Do you really need another? Well, if you’re a Tower Defense lover, you know that one is never enough. What Bloons Tower Defense does though, is add enough quirkiness and uniqueness to an already crowded genre and earns itself a spot on the ‘must have tower defense games’ list alongside such greats as geoDefense (and geoDefense Swarm), Fieldrunners, and The Creeps (among others).
Instead of traditional creeps/monsters, Bloons Tower Defense’s enemies are the balloons from Bloons. Not only are there balloons though, there are zeppelins carrying brown balloons that are difficult to destroy, which unleash balloons that release even more balloons when popped, lead balloons, and more! Your towers include the famous dart throwing monkey from Bloons in addition to a bunch of cool towers, mostly involving even more monkeys (if you’re wondering what all this monkey talk is about, you probably haven’t played Bloons. If that’s the case, please go buy Bloons or play it online immediately then return to this review) throwing various objects–and we cannot forget the Super Monkey with upgraded Plasma Vision which will rain down a whole world of hurt on any unsuspecting helium-filled antagonists.
There are a bunch of maps (15 to be exact) with 3 difficulty levels for each. You initially start with 2 map packs available to select tracks from with the rest being unlockable as you beat tracks. One of the neat things about Bloons Tower Defense is that after you reach the goal for a map (50 levels) you can keep playing to try to improve the number of levels you can survive for. That’s “it” in terms of replayability via high scores, but it’s fun and challenging enough to be satisfying to play the same map over again.
Another useful feature is that each tower has two separate upgrade paths–you can upgrade either the strength of the tower or the distance/range of the tower separately if you so desire which adds some nice strategy elements to the game. You can also use special ‘one level use’ weapons if your towers alone aren’t up to snuff for the latex terrors on any particular level…
…and therein lies perhaps my biggest complaint (and my only real complaint) about Bloons Tower Defense. You see, on the right side of the screen are special one-level only weapons, which include a pineapple bomb, road spikes to pop stray balloons, and glue to slow them down. You simply cannot know utter and total devastating frustration until you experience the maddening frenzy of trying to select the road spikes to pop a few errant balloons that slipped by, but instead of road spikes being placed on the track to pop them, you see only glue to slow them down–as if the balloons are taking the scenic route on their way to the exit to taunt you as you unnecessarily lose lives. And when the glue instead of road spikes causes you to lose a game? The absolute horror or horrors.
For whatever reason it’s really difficult to select the road spikes with any accuracy–and when the only real reason to use the road spikes in the first place is in an emergency (read: I NEED THEM RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW) it gets incredibly frustrating. I assume (hopefully a safe assumption) that the developers are aware of this and working on a solution and that it’ll be released soon because it really is the only truly aggravating thing in an otherwise outstanding game.
One suggestion for a possible solution to the issue (I am not a developer so I apologize if this is not even remotely possible): Let the player simply tap on the path itself, then have it display the 3 level-only weapons (bomb, spikes, glue) as big and unmissable buttons and then place whichever is selected at the point on the path where the player touched. That should allow precise and fast placement of the emergency weapons when they are frantically needed.
Apart from that there isn’t really anything to complain about with Bloons Tower Defense. Could it use some online scoreboards/achievement system? Sure it wouldn’t hurt, but it doesn’t really need them to improve on the fun because it’s so good on its own. There is also only one music track available which gets old fast, however you can play your own music while playing so that’s not a game-breaking issue.
Which brings me to one of the really interesting things about Bloons Tower Defense–despite being yet another Tower Defense game, it is a lot of fun. I have way too many Tower Defense games on my iPhone as it is and look at most new Tower Defense games that come out with a hefty dose of skepticism–as I mentioned earlier in this review, most of them use the same game engine (like the one used for The Creeps) but simply have a different theme and maybe a twist here and there. Playing through the same game again but with different graphics is really not my idea of fun–which is why I think geoDefense (and geoDefense Swarm) have done so well. They bring something fresh and unique and truly fun to the genre and as a result have been smashing successes.
What Bloons Tower Defense manages to do is provide even jaded Tower Defense players a reason to love it. It is simply a lot of fun. It is almost inexplicably fun–it doesn’t seem like it would be on the surface (another Tower Defense game, just with balloons and monkeys? Who cares!?), but once you start playing it you realize that an hour or two has passed by and you are still deep in it having a blast (literally and figuratively–missile launcher tower ftw). The Tower Defense genre is immensely crowded, but what Bloons Tower Defense does is cut through all of that and deliver refreshing gameplay that is truly fun and addictive. It’s kind of hard to describe but it all just works so well together–the graphics, the sound (the balloon popping sound never gets old), and the gameplay all work together to make a remarkably wonderful game. I understand I’ve used “fun” about 520 times in this paragraph, but there really is no other way to describe Bloons Tower Defense–play it and you’ll understand.
Overall Bloons Tower Defense easily earns its spot among the best Tower Defense games available for the iPhone and iPod Touch by being immensely fun and addictive in a crowded genre. There are some control issues, however the developers should sort them out in an update (apart from the ridiculous difficulty in selecting the tacks instead of the glue, there seems to be some random issue with selecting anything in the general UI at times, as if touching buttons just randomly doesn’t register for some reason). Some may balk at its $2.99 price as being $1 or $2 overpriced, especially for a flash game you can play for free online, however the game is just so fun and addicting that it’s certainly worth the price as is to be able to play it whenever and wherever you are. The bottom line is this: even if you’re tired of Tower Defense games and think there is nothing left to be done in the genre, you will almost certainly fall in love with Bloons Tower Defense–it’s that good.
Updated Panappticon Verdict: 100/100 — A ridiculously fun and addicting Tower Defense game that soars in an insanely crowded genre. Updates have fixed all complaints.
Old/Original Panappticon Verdict: 99/100 — A ridiculously fun and addicting Tower Defense game that soars in an insanely crowded genre. Minor (but aggravating) control issue keeps it from a perfect score.
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