Bloons TD 6 Might Be the Best $5 I’ve Ever Spent

I never expected to get hooked on a game where cartoon monkeys pop balloons, but three years in and Bloons TD 6 is still my go-to mobile game. It’s a highly polished and thoughtfully designed tower defense game with a comical art style that belies its strategic depth. Gameplay comes in satisfying frenetic chunks, which makes it perfect for filling small gaps in your day.

The tower defense genre is tailor-made for smartphones. Touchscreen controls can detract from shooters and racing games, but they do not impede a good tower defense puzzle. That’s the real hook here: Every level is a puzzle that can only be solved with the ideal selection of monkeys, the perfect placement, and the correct upgrades triggered in order.

If you’re unfamiliar, Bloons TD 6 takes place across more than 50 levels. Each has a weaving path filled with balloons. You place monkeys armed with darts and other weapons, and they’ll try to pop the balloons before they escape. To complicate matters, balloons come in various colors with different strengths and weaknesses, monkeys have unique powers and branching skills trees, and you earn the means to improve them by popping those pesky “bloons.” Throw in three difficulty levels for every map, each with its own set of modes, and you have an enormous amount of balloon-popping fun ahead of you. And that’s before mentioning special events and bonus challenges. 

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p class=”paywall”>Bloons TD 6 nails that finely balanced equation between frustration and fun. Sure, it costs $5 and there are microtransactions, but you can ignore them. It’s relaxing to play and works great for short bursts of time, but it’s also challenging enough that you’ll sometimes fail, which makes the victories you earn all the sweeter.

Staying Power

Photograph: Ninja Kiwi

Most mobile games feel played out for me within days, but not this one. I can trace the moment Bloons evolved into a long-term addiction. I was seeking a distraction from the mind-numbing boredom of the exercise bike, and so I started to play Bloons daily during my workouts. I cranked up the speed on my bike and found the frenetic action in the game simultaneously encouraged me to cycle faster and distracted me from my aching legs. It became a daily ritual.

The updates are what help pull me back into Bloons. The game continues to grow substantially, three years after release. Seasonal content reskins the game for holidays, there are special races and boss events, and developer Ninja Kiwi recently added co-op play. You’ll regularly see new maps, there are tons of trophies and achievements to unlock, and you get small daily rewards for returning.

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