There's something in human nature that makes it inherently intriguing to watch natural enemies go at each other. Cats vs. dogs, lions vs. hyenas, Hatfields vs. McCoys, monkeys vs. balloons— what, you didn't know monkeys and balloons were natural enemies? In their natural environment, wild balloons are silent, deadly killers. What does all of this mean? Well, only that NinjaKiwi's Bloons Tower Defense 4 is here at last, stepping over Bloons Tower Defense 3 and adding much more of everything we love!
For those four or five readers who have never heard of bloons, here's a crash course. There is a path. The path can be long and meandering, or short and nearly straight, or a series of paths. Suddenly, from one end of the path will come balloons, those deceptively cute menaces. If the balloons make it to the end of the path, lives are lost. What's a casual gamer to do? Why, put towers along the path to combat the balloons. And by towers we mean, of course, monkeys. Well, mostly monkeys. Each balloon you pop brings in money which can be spent on different towers or upgrading the towers to make them more deadly to the evil balloons.
Each tower has its own strengths and weaknesses. Begin with the simplest form: a dart monkey. The dart monkey can shoot darts at the oncoming balloons, but only pop one at a time. However, the humble dart monkey can be upgraded to pop more balloons, to move faster, cover more area, etc. A handy feature, as the balloons coming down the pike increase in speed and complexity (zebra, camouflage, and porcelain balloons, anyone?).
Returning are familiar defenses such as the dart monkey, the tack tower, boomerang monkey, super monkey and plenty more, each with its own battery of improvements. The best new features are the water and air defenses. Place a monkey ace and watch it circle the battlefield in a figure eight pattern, continually shooting and dropping pineapple bombs. There's also a monkey buccaneer ship which can be placed in water to defend nearby areas of the path. You can even drop a banana plantation to generate extra money and, presumably, food for the troops!
Analysis: NinjaKiwi has pulled out a few stops with this sequel. Graphics have improved tremendously, especially with the new monkey ace and monkey buccaneer towers. The new upgrades are fabulous, especially the fifth level upgrades. A wonderful addition is the use of military stripes to indicate how much a tower has been upgraded, eliminating the need to click on every tower to see what level it is at. Old favorites are still along for the ride, such as the super monkey's plasma vision and the ever popular flying monkey blitz attack. A lot of effort has gone into making this a fun, fantastic experience.
Taking a page from Plants vs. Zombies, NinjaKiwi has changed the dynamics of the game for the fourth installment. Towers and other defenses unlock one at a time rather than all at once. Each tower itself has four upgrade capabilities, and a super-secret, roly-poly, cutesy cuddly fifth upgrade that will only be unlocked when you achieve a certain rank in the game. And the way to achieve rank is, of course, by wiping out as many balloons as possible. Somewhere around rank 16, upper-level upgrades become really interesting, and once you achieve rank 31, "Apopalypse" mode becomes available, where bloons come at you non-stop until you run out of lives.
NinjaKiwi has gone further and added even more upgrades that can be purchased with mochi coins, such as upgrades that bring in more money, turn your buccaneer into a dreadnaught, turn your boomerang monkey into a two-handed thrower, etc. These upgrades are fun cheats, but are not necessary to play the game. An additional seven paths are also available for purchase as well. Bloons veterans who don't want to work their way up the ranks can also purchase rank 31 immediately. According to NinjaKiwi, a new feature will be coming soon (hopefully by mid-November) which allows you to create your own paths! Challenge your friends! Or just go bananas.
Some might complain about the mochi coins, but BTD4 can generate hours of fun without ever having to go near the purchasable content. So kick back, peel a banana, and begin the balloon popping fun!