If there's one thing that flash games have taught us, it's that monkeys hate balloons. Bloons 2 continues to reinforce this, wait...Bloons 2? Hasn't this already come out? Let's see... so far in the Bloons series we've seen five player packs, two sequels, but none of them called Bloons 2, four tower defense games, a match-3 game, a side-scrolling shoot-'em-up and a ton of other iterations, but not Bloons 2. If the Grand Theft Auto games can get crazy with their numbering, certainly Bloons can, too. You can do whatever you want when your original game has been played over a billion times. Yup, billion, with a 'b.' We're talking one thousand millions. So, three years and two fat fistfuls of related games later, how does Ninja Kiwi make Bloons 2 stand out?
Well, first they don't try to fix what's not broken. You're still a monkey who is bent on popping balloons (here to for referred to as "bloons") and you'll still do that by using your mouse. Aim your dart where you want it to go, then hold down your left mouse button. An arrow representing the power of your shot will grow, then shrink, then grow again and so on until you get the right amount of oomph you want, then release the mouse button and watch her fly. It's a simple system that anyone can grasp and helps suck players in. It doesn't hurt that popping balloons is so darn gratifying.
But what's new? Well, longtime players will notice a bunch of new bloons on this go round, along with the return of some familiar ones. This time you'll get to call in planes and guide bees to aid you in your bloon popping. Watch out, because not all the new bloons are helpful. Keep an eye out for the bloom bloons. Once you pop it, one bloon becomes seven. Then there's the camo bloons which have the habit of hiding from you.
The graphics have been given some polish. Your monkey looks cleaner and cuter. The sound has also been pumped up. Each area has it's own music and whether you like them will depend on personal preference. No matter what the variety and effort is nice and I think everyone can dig on the jaunty world map music.
Hm? World map? Areas? Oh, that's right. Bloons 2 is split up into different areas, each with it's own theme, both in terms of the general look of the levels and in the challenges they present. There are eight areas, each with 12 levels. They're all connected by a very nice looking world map. There are even rewards for clearing an area, after each one you'll be given a level destroying super monkey and an item that shows you how to clear the level.
Analysis: It's hard to screw up a winning formula like Bloons, so it's no surprise that Bloons 2 is a great game. If you were a fan of the previous Bloons games everything you liked before returns and in bigger amounts. If you're new to the series the game does a pretty good job of getting you used to the swing of the Bloons thing without any previous training needed.
The level design is as clever as ever. The two hallmarks of Bloons level design are in full force. The easier Rube goldberg-esque levels that are mostly just there to give you something neat to watch are especially cool this time around thanks to all the new bloons. On the flip side, the challenging levels are plentiful and they become very tricky in later levels. In fact, Bloons 2 might get too hard in the later levels, some of which are sure to induce vicious bouts of hair pulling and head banging. It's hard to say if the difficulty of the levels is a good or bad thing. On the one hand, after 60 levels, shouldn't a game become noticeably more difficult and won't fans of the series want to put their skills to the test? On the other, rage quitting doesn't make people think fondly of a game and it's discouraging when you're cruising along and then suddenly you run headlong into a seemingly impassable roadblock. Each player may react differently to the challenge and thankfully the level clearing and solving rewards can help you get you off a particularly harsh level if you want to.
All of the new additions are a lot of fun. Most of the new bloons will keep you on your toes, you'll have to actually take control of them to get your popping done. The controls for the bees and, to a lesser extent, the planes could use a little tweaking, but as it is they're pretty good. The new bloons you don't control, like the anti-gravity bloons, add a little twist to the gameplay. Naturally, the enemy bloons aren't as much fun and there's not as many of them, but they still add to the challenge. The super monkeys and solution showing rewards are a very helpful addition. Though, it gets a little frustrating when you find yourself without them and you wished you would've saved them. This is made worse when you accidentally click their buttons and you're sent to the Mochi Store, it feels like the game is rubbing it in your face just a little. Still, they'll help you out a lot and you'll be glad for their inclusion.
Bloons 2 continues the high standard of quality the series has established. It looks and sounds good, there's a lot of fun new stuff to experiment with and those who want a challenge will definitely find it here. In the later levels, you'll probably find yourself getting pretty frustrated, especially for the levels that leave no room for error, but it feels like an accomplishment when you finally figure it out. If you're a fan of puzzle games or just the Bloons series in general, you're in for a real treat.