Bloons TD 5 is the latest iteration in the tower defense series that pits monkeys versus balloons. The games started out as fun, browser-based distractions, but have recently moved onto mobile platforms. Does the balloon-popping defender have the power to keep gamers planting towers?

I'm not normally a huge fan of tower defense games. If pressed, I'd say it's due to the fact that I'm not the best tactician, nor do I have the patience to sit through wave after wave of enemies. The closest I've come to liking a TD game is Plants Vs. Zombies, but I don't think that really counts.

So it comes as a surprise to me that Bloons TD 5 had me returning time and again, even after I had resolved to be productive and get something else done. If I had to guess why, I'd say it had to do with the sounds of the balloons popping. Something about the noise of a dart hitting a bloon is just incredibly satisfying. The gameplay, it turns out, is equally so.

There are plenty of stages of varying difficulties for you to play, with more tracks to be unlocked as you raise your rank. As you rank up, you'll also gain access to different tower types, abilities, and special agents that can help you out in a pinch.

Once you start up a track, you'll have a limited amount of money and lives. Money is used to buy the different monkey "towers" that will provide the defense against the hordes of balloons that threaten your safety. You'll start out small, with monkeys that throw darts very slowly. But as you complete rounds successfully, you'll unlock more monkey types and other helpful constructs, like cannons and buildings.

There are lots and lots of units for you to use and level up, but I found myself sticking with the same kinds of towers for every stage that I played. Then again, my M.O. would be loading up the entrance was as many towers as I could, hoping that the ultimate offense would be the best defense as well. The more pops your towers get, the more experience they earn. Leveling up your units unlocks special upgrades that branch out and act as specializations.

My personal favorite unit was the Super Monkey, which was my go-to tower when innumerable bloons flooded my way. At its base level, the Super Monkey throws darts very quickly. But he can be upgraded to shoot lasers from his eyes, then plasma blasts, and then turns into a Sun God. If you wanted to go a different route, you can turn him into an awesome, dual-wielding Robo-Monkey. The upgrades and specialization paths are what kept me coming back to the game, to see what mighty behemoths my tiny towers could become.

After playing for a while, you might find that the game's normal tracks no longer provide a challenge. Well, then it's a good thing that Bloons TD 5 offers mission modes for you to explore. There are Random Missions that task you with objectives to complete on a track, which include restrictions on which tower types you can use and a different set of bloons to pop. As with regular tracks, these award you with Monkey Money, the game's currency. The difference is that the missions pay bigger amounts and the Special Missions pay even more, but have stricter requirements.

Bloons TD 5 is a fantastic game that will last players a very long time. There are many tracks to conquer and even more missions to complete when you're done. It's the kind of game that you'll find yourself playing for one minute and then looking up at the clock (I'm assuming that people still have those), to find that half an hour has gone by.

It only loses points for being such a time-suck, but other than that, it's a game that deserves to be played. And I guess I should have thought of some kind of pun related to the game to wrap up this review, but I'm too busy monkeying around with it on my iPhone.


App Store Link: Bloons TD 5 for iPhone | By Ninja Kiwi | Price: $2.99 | Version: 1.0.0 | 71.1 MB | Rating 9+

7.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating