It’s the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature is stirring, apart from the monkey over there with a dart in his hand about to pop some balloons. If you’re ‘with it’ in terms of flash-based gaming, you know that this can only be referring to one of the most popular and fiendishly entertaining SWF-based series to ever exist on the internet, and to those that have no clue what I’m talking about, it's a hint towards a game called Bloons.
This isn’t just any bloons, however: this is Bloons Player Pack 5, aka, Christmas Bloons. Before Ninkakiwi’s sublime venturing into a tower defense version of the series, there was this kind of Bloons. This kind of Bloons was more skills-based, requiring a good aim and a bit of a logical brain to fathom the types of balloon on a screen in order to come up with the best way of popping the majority of them to move on to the next level.
Before Bloons Tower Defense there was simply Bloons, and Bloons Player Pack 5 is the perfect example of the kind of fun that came before NinjaKiwi ’s series took off in a serious way. The aim of this wonderfully designed game of puzzlement is to pop as many balloons as you possibly can with a dart-throwing monkey using the limited number of darts issued to you in each level. The balloons come in a variety of different types and are arranged in all manner of challenging ways to make you think about exactly how you should be using the small quantity of darts you have at your disposal.
Simply use the mouse to adjust the trajectory of the dart (which is subject to the effects of gravity) and press and hold the mouse button to determine the strength of the throw. The game is essentially a beautifully colourful puzzle game with a quirky twist, because who has ever seen a monkey throw a dart before encountering the bloons series?
One of the reasons that bloons is such a wonderfully diverse, addictive, and frustratingly challenging game that sucks you in to playing each and every level it has to offer isn’t because of the pretty colours or the thoughtfully-placed bloons on the screen but because of the different types of bloons that you get to utilise.
Green bloons are nothing to bat an eye over but red ones contain bombs that explode and take out nearby bloons; pink bloons are particularly handy since they somehow contain pins that will fire in all directions once popped; some even contain weighted spiky objects that fall once the bloon bursts, popping every bloon below it.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the pull of Bloons Player Pack 5’s unbelievably addictive gameplay, not to mention the colourful design that is simple yet polished enough to make you feel like you are playing much more than a flash game that was designed by a solitary developer in his basement of crippling loneliness in the space of 2 hours.
This game doesn’t look quite as glossy as the later Bloons Christmas Edition, but is still has it’s own unique style and will rival other retro festive games like Infectonator: Christmas Edition. PP5 is based on physics that simply work and lay the foundation for a series of fifty balloon-base challenges to get you in the festive, dart-throwing mood this Christmas. Of course, skills-based games such as these aren't quite everyone's cup of tea, but if you like the physics aspect of Bloons Player Pack 5 as well as the Christmas atmosphere, then Bonte Games has a particle-based physics-puzzle game that you may enjoy playing, and it comes in the form of Sugar Sugar: The Christmas Special. Try both of these out and see which one you prefer.