Ah, Bloons TD 6 ($4.99) is out now, and it’s nice to dive back into this series every few years or so. I like a good tower defense game from time to time, and while I don’t play the Bloons games that often, it’s always nice to dive back into Bloons TD. Mostly, because everything happens so much in this game. Other titles are slower, less chaotic. Bloons TD 6 is chaos, willing to throw endless hordes of creeps at you, with convoluted upgrade systems and dozens of units at you. If you like simplicity and efficient design, this isn’t the game for you! If you like engorging on content, maintaining upgrade trees for dozens of units, and watching your screen fill up with enemies all the time, this is perfect for you!
The rules of Bloons TD 6 are standard tower defense fare. Creeps travel along the path, and you have to play towers in fixed positions with certain target radii to destroy them, without getting rid of all your lives. Where Bloons TD 6 mixes things up is through having dozens of towers, each with their own upgrade trees, and also some fun units to play with that don’t fit the standard tower defense archetype. The plane and helicopters can patrol certain parts of the board, and you can set paths and formations for them! Towers of different types come into play, and certain objectives require you to use just those towers, so you want to learn about everything the game has to offer.
Visually, Bloons TD 6 mixes 3D monkey towers with 2D levels and bloons that come in. Due to the top-down view, it actually works pretty well, and the monkeys are animated well enough that they look smooth when the game’s going at fast speed. Many of the enemies just feature visual variations to differentiate between them, such as colors for different power bloons, and decorations to show that they’re camo, but there’s so much on screen that you’ll have to pay close attention to which is which. And really, everything gets so flooded with action that you’ll have to tell in more general cues what’s on screen and what isn’t. If nothing’s dying, you have a problem.
Each monkey tower has three upgrade paths, with later paths unlocked by earning more experience for them by using the tower more. You can only have upgrades from two paths, and only one path can go to level three or higher. This means that you can have towers of the same base type, but with wildly different effects. And you will need many of these variations to do well, particularly as the bloons come in different types like ceramic, lead, and camo, which often require specialized upgrades in order to destroy. The camo bloons are particularly nasty, as if you don’t have enough firepower that can detect them, they will utterly wreck your defenses.
Additionally, the game now includes her units, with four available at first. These units automatically upgrade themselves, so you don’t have to worry so much about them, and you can only summon one of them on the battlefield. Still, their different attacks can provide a helpful boost to your preferred attacking style, whether you like sending arrows at enemies or dropping explosives.
The game contains 20 levels at launch, but as per previous Bloons TD titles, expect more in later updates. Each level has rewards for beating it on Easy, Medium, and Hard, and then there are different objectives after that to throw you off. For example, you might have to beat a level with only a certain class of monkey tower, or deal with stronger enemies, or reverse paths, and so on. You get money for each time you complete one of these objectives, so there are reasons to play beyond personal challenge and completionism. Though, there is a lot here if you love just hammering down and trying to beat every single piece of content in the game.
And that’s the thing with Bloons TD 6. It’s very clearly for a certain kind of gamer. I’m more the kind that likes to play a ton of different experiences, but I can see this being a game that you can spend hundreds of hours with, if you never get tired of the tower defense mechanics. The game gives you so many units, and so many strategies with your units, and then so many different variations on challenges, that there is a lot to master. And the promise of future content should keep you coming back for more and more. Seriously, there are just so many systems and subsystems that it’s tough to scratch the surface of what’s in play.
Every time I play one of these Flash game adaptations, I feel like I notice a trend of maximalism in these games. Everything just happens so much in these games. There are often complex game systems, levels have multiple variations on top of each other, and the games feel like they’re intended for an audience that wants to complete everything to 300 percent completion. I notice it with stuff like Codename Entertainment’s Idle Champions (Free) and Kongregate’s Realm Grinder (Free) along with the Bloons games. They feel like they’re just meant to overload you with stuff. They feel targeted toward the kind of gamer who gets value out of, say, the maligned Steam “dollars per hour" metric. Which, hey, if you’re someone that only has a few bucks to spend on games, and prefers to obsessively master one title, then Ninja Kiwi makes games just for you. Bloons TD 6 at launch has enough content and upgrades to go after for the different towers, that you’ll likely play this one for hours upon hours at a time.
The one thing about Bloons TD 6 is that it’s a lot like the Kingdom Rush series in that while it’s a paid game, you can also spend a lot of money on top of it. You can buy special powers with the game’s hard currency, Monkey Money. However, you do earn Monkey Money for completing levels and objectives, so you can earn a lot of it by grinding. Additionally, you can unlock all the upgrades for units much faster through in-game purchases. Also, if you want to drop $17.99 for a coin doubler, which seems like the way to go if you want to just wreck everything, you can do that. Seems like the game should probably just go free-to-play at that point, but I suppose there’s enough of an audience that keeps spending on Bloons TD in-game purchases that the paid app plus IAP model works?
Bloons TD 6 is perfect for the kind of person looking to just lose hundreds and hundreds of hours into one game, seeking to attain complete mastery. You’ll love this if that sounds like you. Otherwise, for the less obsessive, it’s a solid tower defense game, and there’s nothing wrong with that.