Pop goes the Monkey

Bloons is a puzzle game from developer Ninja Kiwi, where you play as a monkey (we named him George) whose goal is to pop as many colorful balloons as he or she can. Players must surpass cleverly designed levels and balloon formations in order to gather enough points to progress through the levels. This is no

Shapes and Colors

While Bloons' graphics are bright and colorful, unfortunately that's all there is. The game lacks heavily in the animation department. Our champion chimp hardly moves - his arm only serves as an indicator on to where he is pointing the dart. He does not even face the other way, which looks really weird since it looks like he is throwing the dart without even looking sometimes (is he that good?). I guess we can overlook the lack of animations on our hero but what we can not let go, is the fact that the main focus of the game, the balloons, does not fare that well in graphics either. They do not look like balloons; rather they look like colored candies stuck in the air. Would it hurt to put in some minor animations to make them look like they are floating? Sure, there are some animations going on in the game, such as clouds passing by, boomerangs spinning and rubber walls bouncing, we just felt that some aspects of the game deserves to given more focus in terms of graphics and animation. We do not usually gripe about graphics especially in puzzle games since we know that the main focus is not on how it looks but rather on the gameplay, we just felt the graphics were lacking and incomplete. Hopefully, the developers will be able address this in the sequel

Chattering Chimps

Balloons popping, the sound of rubber walls bouncing, boomerangs swirling in the air - these are but some of the sounds you will be hearing while playing Bloons. The developers did a good job in capturing the sounds effects of different things integrated in the games. While they did go all out in providing a multitude of sounds effects, Ninja Kiwi seems to have forgotten to add music to the game. We are not really sure if they think that background music distracts the players too much and results in them lose their concentration or maybe they just thought players do not listen to in-game music anyway. Still, not including music in a game that has multiple stages kind gives it an incomplete and rushed feel. We are not really asking for a well composed, orchestrated sound track, just an 8-bit digitized music would do. Again, this should be one of the things the developers should address if they decide to make a sequel.

No monkey business

The gameplay in Bloons primarily involves throwing darts at balloons to pop them. There are also times when you would be using boomerangs, falling spiked balls and in some instances - an iconic yellow circle with a chomping mouth. While this seems simple enough, players must be able to judge the strength of the throw (the arrow from the monkey stretches and change color) and the trajectory of dart. Balloons are also arranged in different formations and in some cases inside a maze or behind a wall. These of course are all designed to hinder you from popping your targets. On later levels, more obstacles are introduced. Hindrances such as rubber walls, ice balloons (makes objects unbreakable) and moving platforms are but some of the challenges you will be facing. All of these must be overcome in order to pop enough balloons to get to next stage. While the number of balloons needed to unlock the next level is specified, more points are rewarded for additional balloons popped.

Trial and error, this is pretty much what players will do to be able to judge the manner on how they can pop enough balloons to pass the stage. There are no trajectory lines that will show you the distance and descent of your darts (unlike other games of this genre). This is pretty much where the challenge lies, since judging how long you press down on the mouse to increase the strength of the throw and at what angle you should throw the dart, is pretty much guess work in this game. While there is an unlimited darts mode provided in the game, we feel this pretty much eliminates that whole sense of playing the game since it was designed as a puzzle game with limited turns.

Upgrades and power ups are also given at certain levels. These include boomerangs and dart multipliers to name a few. Mastering the use of these power ups are also needed to able to maximize their usefulness. The boomerang flies in a arc, then returns to the user - this gives is a huge range and can pop lots of balloons if used correctly. Dart multipliers, like the name implies - makes the number of darts thrown multiplies by 3. Most of the power ups are only useable for one turn and also use up one dart from your stock so use them sparingly.

One aspect of the game that we really enjoyed was the ability to design your own levels. This gave the Bloons a big boost in terms of replay value since the game does become a bit tedious after awhile. Making a fun, yet challenging level for friends might take a while, but seeing a friend's face while he or she thinks of way to tackle your designed level makes it all worthwhile.

The Final Tally

Bloons is a puzzle game worth checking out but not highly recommended since the gameplay relies too much on trial and error. This we feel will make puzzle game enthusiast feel unchallenged and discontented, while frustrating newcomers. While the game is fun, it is not for everyone.

Sadly, some aspects of the game felt incomplete and totally neglected. Things like no music and lack of key animations will surely get noticed, especially for people who have played other puzzle games before. While these shortcomings do not hinder the game from being fun, it does lessen the whole experience. We give Bloons a deflated score of 76/100.