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Android Amusements: Bloons TD 5

Sections: 2D, Columns, Developers, Exclusives, Features, Game-Companies, Genres, Handhelds, Handhelds-Other, Smartphones, Strategy

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I don’t get Bloons. I’m not a big fan of the series and don’t understand why popping balloons seems to have such appeal and enthrall so many people. Since another Android Amusements was due, I figured I’d try and figure out why people like Ninja Kiwi’s Bloons series by jumping into one of the most recent and popular installments, Bloons TD 5. I figured it’s not the standard Bloons game, so maybe it’d be more appealing than the rest.

While regular Bloons installments task players with helping a monkey pop tons of balloons by tapping on the screen to have him shoot out darts, Bloons TD 5 is a strategy game. See, the “TD” stands for tower defense. This means I started by helping a whole legion of monkeys destroy a procession of balloons. Each level has a set map with a road along which the balloons will float. I then have to place monkeys, each with different abilities and attacks, along the balloon’s route in the hopes I pop them all before they leave the area. I’m rewarded with money, which can be used to buy even more monkeys, and the ability to keep playing if I succeed.

That money can also be applied to upgrades. Once a monkey type has been placed on the field enough times, he levels up and new upgrades will be made available. Each monkey has two different skill paths with four upgrades in each and I could choose which of the two I wanted. In fact, I could upgrade one path up to level 2 and still max out the other path to level 4. I especially like that the monkey does have to be deployed enough to earn experience to gain these skills as well. It really makes you feel like you’ve earned that stronger monkey. For example, I really liked the Sniper Monkey’s Supply Drop ability after I unlocked it on harder difficulty levels. It was a good way to set up a track as it would drop a crate with between $500 and $1,500 that I could put towards more monkeys and upgrades.

Don’t worry about earning that experience either. I was delighted to learn that Bloons TD 5 has tons of replay value. To begin, there are 21 maps to defend and I’ve seen at least 10 different kinds of balloons float down the tracks. Even if, by some miracle, you manage to master these tracks, Bloons TD 5 has more to offer. There’s this Daily Challenge that shows up each day. Every one I’ve played is different and has given me a certain goal in which I have to win to earn Monkey Money. There were also Special Missions in which I had to beat a certain map with certain rules in play.

Unfortunately, you may eventually hit a pay-to-play wall in Bloons TD 5 like I did. This game eventually gets really hard. So hard that I think it would be nearly impossible to play without possibly resorting to Monkey Money and Special Agents. Regular money in Bloons TD 5 is earned by playing, harvesting from Banana farms and such. This is put towards buying monkeys to place on a map and upgrading them. However, Monkey Money allows players to spend real cash, or complete the harder-than-usual Daily Challenge or Special Missions, to earn Premium Upgrade that can be used multiple times if purchased with NK Coins or once if purchased with Monkey Money. Special Agents, stronger than usual units, can be hired with Monkey Money. Since it’s $5 for 50NK Coins and at least 12 NK Coins for certain Premium Upgrades, you can end up spending quite a bit of money if you want to even the odds with real cash.

If Bloons TD 5 were a free game, I wouldn’t be so put-off by the real-cash elements. However, you’re paying $2.99 to get this game on your Android device. I suppose that’s still relatively inexpensive for an Android game, especially one that does have this much initial content, but I still hate seeing a cash shop involved in a game where I didn’t expect to be asked for money after the initial purchase.

Anyways, Bloons TD 5 did impress me and redeem the Bloons name for me. I’m still ticked that NinjaKiwi keeps trying to grab for my wallet after I already paid my $3, but I figure what’s there is good enough to merit the investment and as long as I play on the easy and normal difficulty levels, I’ll never be tempted to pay real cash just so I can get past a more difficult run.

Product Page [Bloons TD 5]

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