Bloons TD 4 (DSiWare)

Game Review

Bloons TD 4 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Pop it and drop it

Last year the DSiWare service saw the release of Bloons TD. It was an unimpressive but acceptable entry into the overstuffed tower defence genre, and this year we're leaping ahead three sequels to Bloons TD 4. If Bloons TD 4 is at all representative of the course the series has taken, we can safely say we haven't missed much by skipping parts 2 and 3.

As with Bloons TD, this game is a simple — and intuitive — tower defence game. You select a level, multi-coloured balloons appear, and you need to set up an assortment of defensive weaponry to pop them all before they reach the end of their path. It's simple, and when the game begins you might actually think you're in for a treat. That feeling won't last long however.

First, though, the good. Presentation-wise, the game looks nice. It's nothing particularly memorable, but the art is clear and colourful. The music, likewise, is pleasant without being anything hugely impressive. We have no qualms with this much, and even the controls are good; you use the D-Pad to highlight an item on the top screen and the stylus to place it on the bottom. In order to upgrade a unit you've placed — or sell it, or activate certain abilities it has — you tap it and then navigate the menu on the top screen.

So far, so good.

Where the game falls apart, unfortunately, is in the actual act of playing it, as it's quite simply glitched beyond all hope of salvage.

Tower defence games nearly always play the same card: after a relatively brief build-up, they intend to wear you down by overwhelming you with enemies. Bloons TD 4 does those other games one better, we guess, because it actually overwhelms itself.

Yes, Bloons TD 4 spawns so many enemies as the waves progress — even in the intro stage — that the game slows to a complete crawl. Without exaggeration we regularly found ourselves dealing with refresh rates of less than one frame per second, and were frequently dealing with two and three frames per second elsewhere. Bloons TD 4 is programmed so poorly it's embarrassing — and impossible — to play.

The balloons come in different colours, indicating their speed, HP, and sometimes even the type of weapon that must be used to destroy them. This would lead to some interesting strategising if the game didn't wind itself down into inoperability trying to render all of them at once, however.

The refresh rates would be bad enough if it were just an aesthetic problem, but it actually quite literally breaks the game. When there's so much activity on the screen that the game can't keep up with it, it will ignore your input. You can tap, slide and press all you want; the game will be too busy trying to cope with the apparently difficult task of rendering coloured circles to pay attention to what you're telling it to do.

This means that when things get frantic, which they frequently will, you won't be able to do anything until the game sorts itself out, which nearly always means waiting all the way until the end of the round and hoping your defences hold out. In theory at least you could avoid this problem by quitting before that many enemies appear, but since the game requires you to survive these advanced waves if you wish to unlock other items and levels, you'd be facing a very limited experience indeed.

Bloons TD 4 clearly wasn't tested very thoroughly, as this is not the only example of its rushed nature. For instance, there are captions in white that are layered upon other captions in white, rendering them both unreadable, and between-round instructions that flip by too quickly for any reasonable human being to actually read, let alone act upon. The entire experience feels like one that was designed entirely in code, and never actually play-tested to see if it worked.

Bloons TD 4 is broken. We wish we didn't have to say that, but we do. If you for some reason choose to play only a handful of rounds and never open the game again, then you may at least end up with some fond memories. Actually try to engage this game for what it intends to be, however, and you're out of luck.


There's no polite way to put it: Bloons TD 4 is genuinely unplayable. It's a simplistic tower defence game that doesn't really bring anything new to the table in the first place, but that's not the problem. The problem is that the game regularly overloads itself to the point that it no longer accepts input, a truly game-breaking issue that really should have been addressed in beta testing. A colourful presentation, fun music and unlockable levels and upgrades fail to salvage a game that simply doesn't work in the first place. This is one balloon that's never getting off the ground.

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User Comments (32)



Doge said:

ill just my ipod version
it has better grahics and easyer gameplay



Hyperstar96 said:

To be fair, the non-DSiWare versions of the game are amazing. The iOS version has a little bit of lag, but it's worth every penny.



Haxonberik said:

As expected of anything releasing on DSiWare as of late. The only good thing I see coming to it is Itachan (that squid game however its spelled) and its coming to the 3DS eShop too.



black-kyurem said:

Its official...dsiware should die. At first it was good bit now its just a shovelware dumping ground.



Squashie said:

Ouch! But just as I expected. These games are truly horrific, but it's still extremely hilarious to read the reviews!



LittleKing said:

A sloppy port for a dieing platform. Bloons TD is pretty fun on other platforms, so it's too bad they couldn't make it work here. Although, on my computer, the flash versions always lagged pretty bad at rounds 50+ IIRC.

"... apparently difficult task of rendering coloured circles ..."

It's probably not rendering the circles which is the problem. It's probably the business logic end. I have to wonder what the hell they're doing, though, to slow it down so much that you're getting one frame a second. e_e



UnseatingKDawg said:

Hmm... Good thing I reconsidered buying this. Although that Kangaroo game which looked a like something similar to Frogger, which was a letdown for me. And seeing the comments above, I'd have to agree that DSiWare should be on its way out. I've downloaded maybe... 10 titles between my DSi and 3DS. The only games I've seen as significant are Shantae, Mario vs. DK 3, the Mario Clock and Calculator, and Mario's Cement Factory.



TheKingOfTown said:

The Bloons games on the computer are actually pretty fun, but only as flash games, not games you pay for.



Undead_terror said:

Thats bad to hear, really enjoyed the first one on the dsi ware, hope ninja kiwi gives the eshop sas zombie assault 3.



Jaz007 said:

Dang, Chicken here has got some pretty good commitment to Nlife considering what they give him to review.



ShadJV said:

I would never pay for this anyways, it's free on enough flash websites and it's a good way to kill some time but that's about it.



SirSmugleaf said:

I'm actually not surprised. I later levels on the iOS version the frame rate stutters so much that there is simply no frame rate left it seems!

But, regardless, this is actually a great, addictive game, but maybe it should be played on another platform...



LittleKing said:

@Morphtroid Well, it doesn't crash as soon as it starts up and the game itself is okay. It's just at a certain point there are too many Bloons and then the game lags. I kind of agree, though.



Xjarnold said:

Sigh The computer version of this is so good, would've loved a ds portable one.



RetrogamerFan said:

Wow, that's bad. Wonder how close this was to getting a 1, after all the review makes it sound like it so broken/laggy to render it completely unplayable, and then there are many better options for this type of game at (or around) the same price, already on the DSIware/e-shop services. Starship Patrol/Defense is a great example of this type of game.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Considering this is completely unplayable, shouldn't it be a 1/10?

It's not completely unplayable...it's unplayable after a certain point. And what is playable is quite good. See the other comments folks have left about other versions of this game and you'll see it's not a totally lost cause. It's a port that fails to accept input for more than half the time you'll play it which is a huge problem, but unlike our other 1/10s it wasn't completely hopeless.



Gretski said:

This game is insanely fun online and on iOS. It's sad that it didn't transfer over very well.



mayhem13 said:

Reed, to me a game that doesn't always allow you to beat it. Is broken its 0 out of 10, it totally fails, while your review IS well done and truthful. I can't accept that rating. If I wasn't so busy, maybe I'd call Nintendo and make a fuss to get my money back because one cent for a broken game is unacceptable let alone $4.99. The game rewards people who beat the levels on hard and get gold medals. It's nearly impossible to beat the levels on hard without slowdown glitching and even freezing the game. Let alone the fact that the slowdown kills any fun the game has. I love Bloons TD the series, I have nothing against it, I love TD in general and more of the same is cool with me. But this dsware port of the game is zero out of 10, nobody should spend money on it. Nintendo should remove it from their eShop.



FonistofCruxis said:

@UnseatingKDawg Actually, there are many other DSiware games that are worth getting like Mighty flip champs, Reflect missile, Little red riding hood's zombie bbq, GO series: 10 second run etc.



Philip_J_Reed said:

while your review IS well done and truthful. I can't accept that rating.

That's why it's always important to read the review and decide for yourself! Thanks for the feedback!



UnseatingKDawg said:

@rayword45: I'll look into it.

@FonistofCruxis: I did try Mighty Flip Champs and 10 second run. Didn't play either too much, but I think it's about time I redownload and give them a second chance. And I'll also look into Reflect Missile and the Zombie BBQ. Good thing I picked up an eShop card recently.

So, thank you both for the recommendations.



Pixiey said:

I wish I had read this before I bought it and on the second map spent 85 levels doing okay with all the horrid lag and 150 lives to die in the next with over 12k monkey money on me. This is a 0 star for me.



Mewthree456 said:

They said that this is not much different from Bloons TD on DSiWare. Bloons TD on DSiWare is Bloons TD 3 online, and BTD 3 and 4 aren't that much different.
Pay attention people.

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