Monkeys Versus Balloons

My apologies for the lack of a column last week. We have been having horrid weather, like the rest of the world, which resulted in our pipes freezing not once, but twice. Then we got a power surge and despite the use of surge protectors my computer gave a sad popping sound and died, taking my column with it. I'm now working on the one that died when a coke exploded over it a couple of years ago. It now functions but is slower than any other computer made in this century. This has also negatively impacted my schooling.

I'm taking a bunch more classes (genetics, paleontology, neuroanatomy, psychology, communications, history, social sciences, philosophy and business) and in between them I am not exactly bursting with mental energy. The perfect game to play as I recharge is one I got for either nothing or hardly anything called Bloons TD 5. Available on the Apple app store, Google Play and the Amazon Kindle, this little time waster is aggravatingly fun to play. As you can probably tell from the title it's a tower defense game, like Plant Versus Zombies. In the Bloons series monkeys fend off balloons called Bloons. (Is that monkey slang or the tribal name of the balloons?)

The towers in tower defense are a little confusing to me. I thought that the tower was what was being defended, as in protecting forts, castles, keeps and other structures from the invading hordes. But in this game, and apparently all the others, the towers are the soldiers etc protecting the structure. Is this named after the siege tower? I have no idea but if so then I guess calling them towers makes a little bit of sense.

The towers range in killing ability from super weak, a dart monkey, to ridiculously strong, a giant temple, which requires sacrifice to activate. (It slorgs up all the towers nearby and costs like a hundred grand in in-game money.) One of the reasons I enjoy playing this game so much is because there are so many combinations I can make. Only some of them will win the various mission maps and figuring out which ones to use is a bit of a brainteaser. There are some towers I prefer over others, such as the submarine and the monkey engineer. Each tower is purchased with in game dollars. You begin with x amount and earn one dollar for each balloon destroyed. You can also earn money with banana farms and the monkey engineer can make a balloon trap, which catches balloons and gives you a payout when it is full.

TD5 features many different maps designed for various skill levels starting from beginner and ranging to extreme. Each level is further divided into difficulty, ranging from easy to hard. There are also some odd options such as running the map backwards or deflation. You get medals, tokens and experience points and monkey money for each map that you complete. You also have the option of playing missions, which come in extremely aggravating special missions and the less aggravating regular missions. These are more like mental puzzles as you have to figure out the right combination of towers to activate to beat the level. For instance how do you beat a lightning shaped map with only little machines that spew out tacks? (I still haven't figured that out.) The special missions alone have already eaten up several hours and most of my patience.

As I am once again overloaded with classes this column will likely be sporadic, short erratic for the next couple of months. One of my classes alone has twenty hours of lecture per week. Why? Why? Why?

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is from the Missouri Department of Conservation. It's an important fact sheet about a new invasive species; zombies. It gives good advice about avoiding cauliflower fields, what to do if you catch one while you're fishing and which tree stands are the safest while climbing out of zombies' reach.