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The Bloons TD series has a long history of cute and challenging tower defense on mobile platforms. The latest entry in the series takes a new direction, though. The team at Ninja Kiwi have added the standard “free to play” trappings to their previously paid-for game mechanics. This has a history of being a terrible idea for most franchises. Does Bloons Monkey City break the mold, or is it another forgettable free-to-play entry in an otherwise stellar game series? Time for a Bloons Monkey City review!
The Best Defense is a Sharp Monkey
Bloons Monkey City borrows heavily from the Bloons TD series, so if you’re not familiar with the way the series plays, we’ll start there. The genre is definitely tower defense – that’s what the “TD” in the title stands for. The titular “bloons” (or “balloons” for those of you who can actually spell) are trying to… invade? or something? I guess?
At any rate, they are heading through your territory, and you’ve got to stop them. At your disposal is a wide variety of monkey-based technology. At the lowest tiers are just monkeys with darts, although we quickly get to ninja monkeys, wizard monkeys, monkey cannons, and even superhero monkeys.
Popping bloons earns you cash that can be spent on more monkeys and monkey upgrades. Survive enough rounds and you win! This is typically where Bloons TD games end – they’re just a series of levels, with more monkeys and upgrades unlocking the more you play. The levels can get progressively more tricky in their course designs, the bloons have some devious tricks, and there are a limited set of unlocks, but that’s the gist of these games. Monkeys, “bloons,” upgrades, popping.
So What’s New?
Bloons Monkey City takes the solid core gameplay of the Bloons TD series and layers a city building metagame and player-vs-player elements on top of it. The Bloons TD game mechanics translate into these new systems pretty seamlessly.
For instance, instead of just unlocking new upgrades and monkeys by playing, you’ve got to build new buildings and research upgrades in order to get those unlocks. Playing levels can unlock more land to build on, or it can be part of an event that gets you some new loot. Some upgrades require you to complete specific challenges that bend the rules of Bloons to give the game some much-needed diversity.
Unlike most free-to-play games, though, Bloons Monkey City makes some important and much needed improvements. For one, there’s no arbitrary amount you can play before you have to wait to play any more. There’s no stamina system whatsoever. If you want to attempt to capture a new piece of land or conquer a multiplayer challenge, you can play these courses over and over again with no penalties and no restrictions.
Basically, the game doesn’t punish you for wanting to play it, and it rewards your skill by giving you bonuses. This is something I feel like has been lacking in so many free-to-play games. There’s so much to play at any one given time, and no punishment for experimenting and trying to conquer some seemingly impossible challenge. It’s honestly… refreshing.
Mating the Meta
The core tower defense elements of Bloons TD have always been solid, but they tended to get repetitive at times. In Bloons TD 5, for instance, the bloons always come in the same order every time you play. The only change between games is how many rounds you have to survive and what the shape of the course is. In Monkey City, however, there are a much wider array of attack patterns and a more diverse set of courses.
There are a couple of different player vs player modes that keep the game interesting and competitive. In Events, you compete against other players to survive the highest wave of a particular course. Whoever is “king of the hill” earns bonuses and can collect cash. The other mode is called “Monkey vs Monkey,” where you periodically attack other players, and if they can’t survive the bloons you send their way, you get rewards.
I don’t really have much criticism to level at Bloons Monkey City. I will say that if you don’t like Bloons TD, or you’ve burned yourself completely out on it, Monkey City is probably going to feel all too similar.
There’s an occasional glitch in the game, usually around the multiplayer events. There have been times I’ve captured the highest round but the event told me I hadn’t, and sometimes I had difficulty collecting my rewards. Usually closing the app and then opening it again fixed these issues.
Perhaps the highest praise I can give for Monkey City is that I’m willing to pay money to support it – I dropped $3 to have the ads removed. I’ve never paid for a free-to-play game before. Ever.
|Bloons Monkey City|
|Links:||Homepage, Google Play, iTunes|
|Release:||(Varies by Platform)|
Bloons Monkey City is ridiculously good. It’s creative, it’s smart, it’s damn fun to play. It doesn’t rely on the standard free-to-play gimmickry that usually drives me so crazy. Instead, it takes a compelling set of game mechanics and wraps them in an interesting metagame that has me completely addicted.