Think you’re a smart little monkey? Let’s see how you do against opponents with human intelligence.

Monkeys that live in the jungle and in zoos are infamous for throwing, uh, stuff. Stuff of their own making. Fortunately, video games can do wonders for a species’ image. The Bloons TD  tower defense series on iOS and Android has monkeys hurling darts, bullets, ninja stars, and other sharp/bladed objects to defend themselves against the greatest threat ever known to primates: balloons. Bloons TD Battles continues the balloon-popping wars, but this time you must match your monkeys against live opponents.

The rules that govern Bloons TD Battles sound like something that should be painted on the side of a barn: Monkeys Good. Balloons Bad. You command a regiment of monkeys that are specially-trained to take out the helium-inflated menace with various pointy weapons. One basic and cheap unit is the dart monkey, which throws short-range darts at the balloons that float by them. You can also hire ninja monkeys that throw shurikens (which slice through several balloons at a time), powerful snipers, monkeys with glue guns, and much more. There are even monkeys that pilot helicopters and other machinery that no animal named “Mr. Teeny” should ever touch.

Bloons TD Battles

You can also use your funds to purchase gadgets that will keep balloons from slipping by your defenses, including tack machines and cannons. You may rightfully ask, “Why would I want to bother? Those aren’t monkeys!” That may be, but machines are capable of delivering blows that a simian cannot, and vice-versa. Whether you decide to put your trust in the monkeys, or whether you employ heartless machines instead, you have but one purpose: to make sure the balloons don’t get past you. Each one that floats by takes some energy off your health bar. Let’s assume they’re filled with mustard gas.

Bloons TD Battles should present a familiar war ground for anyone who’s already familiar with the Bloons TD games. There is one major difference, however: Battles utilizes a split-screen to pit you against real-world opponents in one of two gameplay modes. In “Defensive Mode,” both you and your rival must gird your loins and defend yourselves against an endless balloon onslaught until one of you falls and the other is declared the winner. In “Assault Mode,” you must still defend yourself, but you’re also allowed to purchase balloons and send them flying through your enemies’ path.

Bloons TD Battles

Interestingly, sending balloons at your opponent can help you accumulate a lot of cash, which, in turn, can be used to really shore up your defenses. As a consequence, Assault Mode is excellent for players seeking a real challenge, especially since some balloons have different effects that can devastate an army that’s not been properly upgraded to counter them.

Bloons TD Battles presents a real challenge for Bloons TD experts, though its hurried tutorial doesn’t make it a good jump-in point for series beginners. The game’s tendency to match up newbies with veterans doesn’t help, either. There are also some issues with crashing and disconnecting, even on an iPhone 5.

Problems aside, series fans should enjoy Bloons TD Battles, especially since the Assault Mode adds an extra layer of strategy. Get back to monkeying around. It’s your duty.