Bloons TD 4 offers plenty of variety, despite feeling like your run-of-the-mill tower defense game

Tower defense madness on the App Store is by and large a defunct craze at this point. Sure the games keep coming out, but unless there’s something really special about a new title, nobody really takes notice anymore. This makes Bloons TD 4 something of an anomaly. There’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, and yet it’s seemingly impossible to put down.

Originally a popular web-based game from developer Ninja Kiwi, Bloons TD 4 manages to perfect generic tower defense gameplay. By offering up a great variety of maps, towers, and upgrades – and then putting a decent level of polish on each of them – Bloons TD 4 manages to stand out from the crowd despite offering gameplay that doesn’t stray too far from the beaten path.

Bloons TD 4

Like previous games in the Bloons TD series, players will place a series of monkeys (these are your towers) around a map, and the only passion in these monkeys’ lives is popping balloons. Lucky for them, Bloons TD 4‘s maps are full of them.

Balloons travel along a pre-determined path, and the monkeys will attempt to destroy the balloons before they reach the exit. Players will be able to purchase upgrades for their monkeys to increase their speed, strength, and range, which in turn will help them in their struggle against their poppable foes. Like we said – in terms of gameplay, there’s nothing really new here. This is generic TD at best.

What makes this generic gameplay worthwhile, however, is the variety the developers have built in to the maps and towers. With 15 maps available at launch (and a new one recently added through a free update), Bloons TD 4 offers a great selection of maps where no two ever really play alike. In addition to their smart layouts, the maps also offer a good deal of visual variety (though some look better than others). On the lower end of the scale are maps in simple green on brown, or a basic white snow field – but eventually you’ll play in train yards that use multiple train tracks as entry points, float in space to defend the earth, and tackle adorable maps shaped like cars, lightning storms and pentagrams. And since you’ll need to earn medals to unlock most of the maps, there’s plenty of reason to play all 16.

Bloons TD 4

The towers are just as varied, offering boomerang throwing monkeys, glue gun spraying monkeys, wizard monkeys, super monkeys – the list goes on and on. Like maps, towers and upgrades will also be unlocked through the course of play. The more time you invest in Bloons TD 4, the more toys you’ll have at your disposal.

In an interesting twist, players will even be able to place non-combat banana farms that will let them earn extra money at the end of each turn.

Like everything else, the upgrades here are imaginative and cute. Take the boomerang monkey for example. He works his way up from the simple boomerang to, at his most powerful upgrade, a lightsaber throwing Jedi complete with robes.

You’ll be able to select from one of three difficulties before tackling each map, and you’ll unlock a medal after completing a certain number of rounds. At this point, you’ll be given the choice to quit or keep playing in endless mode. This is where things start to get a little sticky.

Bloons TD 4

Bloon TD 4 suffers from a tremendous amount of slowdown in the higher stages. When you get to the point where hundreds of balloons are flowing onto the screen and you have dozens of towers set up to destroy them, the frame rate lags so bad that it looks like you’re watching homemade stop animation. We’re talking less than a frame a second in some cases. For a game that’s really all about surviving as long as you can after earning a medal, this can be a real problem.

While the gameplay itself may be fairly run of the mill, Bloons TD 4 ends up being an incredibly robust package that should keep any tower defense fan busy for quite some time. In addition to the 16 maps of varying difficulty and 12 different styles of monkey, there are four upgrades for every tower, the challenge of endless mode, and the chance to top your friends’ scores on Game Center. It’s certainly not the most original tower defense game on the App Store, but there’s still a lot to love here for fans of the genre.