Bloons TD 6

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: Finally, a tower defence game that feels fun. Solid multiplayer is the bonus cherry on top!


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

After my not-quite-good-enough time with Dungeon Warfare earlier in the year, I was a little reticent about picking up another tower defence game, but after Tom let me watch him play a round or two, I agreed that it looked pretty fun. I was right! Bloons is hardly a newcomer to the genre – I remember playing one of the originals back on sites likes Newgrounds back in the day 😮 – but it seems like they've been able to both evolve the concept and keep true to those simpler roots pretty darn well.

You can pick it up for free through Netlix (who remembers that Netflix owns a gaming division?) but I chose to just buy it outright. This did end up with a slightly annoying issue when it came to playing multiplayer, in that account names apparently aren't shared between the two versions 🤷‍♀️ Annoying, but not the end of the world.

It's definitely worth setting up an account if you think you can convince any friends to play, though, because whilst the single-player is a solid experience, Bloons really shines in co-op mode. There are a bunch of configurations you can play around with, but basically you end up each taking a section of the map, and then all sharing the overall loot and resource pool – though you can trade money with each other at no additional cost, which is super useful and opens up a bunch of additional strategies. It keeps the difficulty relatively similar to playing on your own, and still rewards having a plan, whilst ensuring that everyone feels like they're contributing. Plus, if your accounts are spread across a range of levels, some people will have access to different, more advanced monkeys, which is fun to discover.

Monkeys? Yeah, this is a bit of a gimmick, but it works well. Rather than demons or zombies, the enemies are all balloons; and rather than siege weapons and traps, the "turrets" are (mostly) monkeys. Monkeys with Gatling guns, rocket launchers, shurikens, tanks... you get the idea 😉 The result is a pretty cartoony and bright art style that really benefits the game play. So many tower defence games get tricky to distinguish enemy types as you advance, because everything becomes a mash of browns, reds, and blacks, but here the vivid colour schemes ensure that almost all of the sprites are unique enough to be easy to make out.

Of course, as you get past around wave 60 or 70 in a game, the sheer number of balloons and particle effects from your monkeys does begin to obscure the action a little, and around the 100 wave mark even top-end phones begin to drop frames fairly regularly, but it never feels unmanageable.

Now wave 100 might feel daunting, but this is really only for games which you have already won. In a simple-yet-effective move, at the end of any game you can choose to simply keep playing. Most games tap out somewhere around wave 50 or so (I haven't tried the super hard levels yet, so maybe they go higher), but you tend to hit a real stride in the last quarter of the game, so being able to continue past that point if you're particularly happy with your set-up, and instead make a run on a high score, that's pretty fun. It does mean games can sometimes drag into "hours long" territory, but who cares if you're having fun 😂

That said, I think the reason this is useful is possibly one of the few weak points in the game: too often, the early game is repetitive, and you only really start getting to bring out the fun, new monkeys and power-ups too late, leaving little room for real experimentation. Still, the monkeys themselves are pretty diverse, and I've definitely found myself rotating my preferred loadout fairly regularly, which is a good sign that they're all fairly balanced.

On top of which, the balloons manage to keep you on your toes without requiring you to memorise hundreds of different ability variations. There are effectively six "types" of balloon: regular, camouflaged, lead, speedy, healing, and MOAB. These variations can also be layered – so you might have a lead outer balloon with two regular layers beneath, each one of which needs to be popped – and slowly level up over the course of a match, with the MOABs having the largest amount of variation and steadily increasing in both physical size and overall tankiness every ten-or-so waves. Still, whilst that might sound like a lot of variation, the reality is that you only really need to worry about three of them: camo, lead, and MOAB. Only certain monkeys can "reveal" camouflaged balloons, so you need to build at least a few types that can deal with them – usually monkeys with some sort of tactical gear or intelligence role, like snipers and helicopter pilots. Similarly, lots of weapons can't damage lead balloons, but anything that explodes or uses fire will make short work of them. And MOABs? These technically don't have a specific weakness, but there are a few "heavy duty" monkeys that are specifically designed for them. You don't have to built any of these weapons to beat a MOAB, but it will make your life a lot easier. And that's it. If you make sure that at least one monkey can take out each of those three types, you're covered. So it forces you to spread your money around a little bit, but it's easy to remember, consistent, and there are lots of build paths that will ensure you have that minimum coverage, so you still get plenty of variation to play around with.

Throw on top a bunch of interesting mini-events, challenges, and a solid levelling system that lets you slowly unlock more-and-more powerful monkeys, and then also level them up over time to unlock better abilities, and Bloons also makes the grind very rewarding and downright enjoyable.

Honestly, since I picked this up most of the other games on my phone have just been set to one side. The only complaint I have is that it is quite battery intensive, but given the quality of the graphics and the sheer amount of stuff going on, that's a very minor quibble. If you like tower defence games, or just think it would be fun to watch a bunch of monkeys pop loads of balloons, it's great.

Made By Me, But Made Possible By:


Build: Gatsby

Deployment: GitHub

Hosting: Netlify

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