Popping balloons in real life can instill some pretty dramatic emotions: terror, excitement, relief, happiness, etc. Who knew, that for only three dollars, these same emotions could be experienced virtually? Bloons TD 5, developed by Ninja Kiwi, is a tower defense game that was originally an online exclusive. Now that it's ported to handheld devices, I couldn't resist picking it up and seeing if the magic of popping hundreds of balloons translated well, and thankfully, it has.
Bloons TD 5, on the surface, is an average tower defense game. Instead of stopping aliens, soldiers, or monsters, you're stopping hordes of balloons from reaching the the base. To perform this daunting task, the player has many different difficulties, towers, modes, and maps to choose from. There are three separate difficulties: Easy, Medium, and Hard. However, more balloons don't come as the difficulties increase; rather, towers and upgrades are more expensive and the player has a lesser amount of life. Winning on any of these difficulties grants the player money, which they can spend on special towers. There are also special missions the player can perform to gain XP and money quicker. There are a number of towers to choose from within the game; each possessing two separate upgrade paths. The player can place towers anywhere on the map, as long as it isn't on the balloons path. Dragging and dropping them with your finger is easy and smooth. The only issue with the touch controls is laying Tacks and Pineapples. Usually, when the game is going, it requires fast thinking to lay Tacks and Pineapples quickly to save yourself. It would be much nicer if, instead of dragging the initial Tack or Pineapple, I could just tap the icon then place them on the track. Tapping on a tower shows the XP required for its' various upgrades. Popping balloons grants XP. The towers themselves have levels, as does the player. Leveling up the overall player level grants new towers and higher tiers for those towers. The player then must use those towers to fully unlock the next upgrade. For example, if the player wants to upgrade the Ninja Monkey to Bloonjitsu, (enabling the Ninja Monkey to throw five shurikens instead of one or two) they first need to level up their overall level to twenty-five and proceed to use the Ninja Monkey until the upgrade is available. The different combinations of towers, maps, modes, upgrades, and placements offer a lot of replay value.
Bloons TD 5 is a very smooth mobile game. On occasion, the massive amount of balloons and towers cause the framerate to take a dive, but this rarely happens and ultimately depends on the power of the device you're using. Each tower looks completely separate from the last, and you understand what they do before even tapping on them. The animations are unique to each tower, and whether you're watching the Super Monkey shoot lasers from his eyes, or the Glue Monkey squirt glue on each passing balloon, you'll always have something to look at. The game also sounds very nice. The jungle inspired rhythm in the main menu is catchy, and each balloon pop is satisfying.
Bloons TD 5 worked really well as an online game, and I am happy to say that it works even better as a mobile game. The gameplay is accessible, but after time is spent with it, it becomes very deep; leading to many different strategies. The animations are wonderful, and besides a few framerate quirks, they run without a hitch. Bloons TD 5 is one of the best mobile games I have played recently, and it works perfectly for on-the-go gaming. For a price tag under five dollars, it's definitely worth trying out.