Every week on In the Flash we sit down with the creator of a free online game to unravel their secret plans of world domination ... and to talk about their game:


Combining monkeys, darts, and balloons would normally be a bad idea. But Stephen Harris and his brother Chris, the pair behind Ninja Kiwi, made it happen with the elegantly titled Bloons. Aim the dart and release to see how many balloons you can take out with each toss. The first levels are simple and straightforward, but as you progress new obstacles and power-ups are introduced to add puzzle-like spice to the mix. There's even a Pac-Man cameo! It's one of those games that hooks you early on and won't let go until you've played through your entire lunch break.

We recently sat down with both Chris and Stephen and coaxed some information about Ninja Kiwi, Bloons, and Barry Mann. Read on for the full interrogation.

For starters: Ninja Kiwi. When did you guys start it? And is it just the two of you?

Yeah, just us two part time. We launched in September last year. We tried hosting other peoples games at first, with 1-2 of our own in the more traditional 'web game portal' way. In January we ditched that idea and decided to just showcase our own games on a new-look site.

So you both have background in Flash design?

Haha, not exactly. :) I've been doing it for about 2.5 years, and Chris only since last year. I'm doing flash in my day job at the moment, for an advertising agency. But making our own games is waaay more fun.

Ninja Kiwi is kind of your relax, unwind, make games about monkeys throwing darts at balloons kind of thing.

Well, its fun, but it soaks up so much spare time that we really should focus more on the relax and unwind front. We're hoping that it will soon be able to support us both full time. But that could be a fair way off, its so hard to predict these things.

Yeah, the internets are crazy. But you seem to have scored a big hit with Bloons.

It's doing much better than we both thought reasonably possible. In fact, probably 20 times as well as any of our other games.

Is it because of the monkey?

Someone likened popping masses of balloons in this way to popping bubble wrap -- its just satisfying on an intangible level. Someone else likened it to popping digital Xanax. :)

Bloons is evil addictive like that.

I find people overuse the word 'addictive', but almost everyone who's given feedback has described it that way. I think it works well because initially you don't have to do anything too skillful. It's just kinda raw mindless fun. But once you're hooked, the later levels start to pose more of a puzzle type challenge.


Where did the idea for Bloons come from?

My wife inspired the idea when I asked her what game I should make next. She just said 'popping balloons with a dart at fairs and stuff is fun'. 90 mins later I had a prototype of Bloons. We were going to have points and stuff, but abandoned that idea because we felt points would be ... pointless. It's just all about popping balloons and getting to that next level. I've studied game design, but sometimes, I think you just get it right by chance.

Good thing you were listening. So what's her cut?

As my wife, its probably half of half. :P

Personally, I dig the Pac-Man power-up. You guys have a favorite?

We both love the ice bloon best -- sometimes its nice, sometimes its nasty. Second fave would have to be the tacks bloon -- and just watching chain reactions of bloons all pop at once.

Divulge thine secrets: Got any game ideas on the drawing board? I saw Bloons 2 mentioned on the site ...

Yes Bloons 2 is definitely going to happen. When? Can't say cos we don't know. We're also working on 2 other new games. Let's say we like games that allow the user a certain freedom to create stuff. But we just haven't made any like that yet. Think TD [tower defense] games and Line Rider-type games.

Sold! Will the formula change much for Bloons 2?

We'll probably keep the core gameplay the same. But at the same time, look to have lots of quite new stuff in it. Graphics, sounds, bloon types etc etc, more of everything!

One last question: In your honest opinion, who put the bop in the bop-she-bop-she-bop?

Dude you need to get some sleep.

Not until I can answer that question. It's been driving me crazy.

Maybe ask Google that one. ;)

Play Bloons.

Also released ...

Galves Adventure
A cross between Hapland and Grow, Galves Adventure is a short puzzle-like game by On from eyezmaze, the creator of Grow and and many other games. The goal is simple: guide the baby to the top of the screen. Click on objects in the right order and at the right time to clear the path. Play Galves Adventure.

More Bloons
If the 50 levels in Bloons aren't enough to satisfy, Ninja Kiwi has released 50 more to keep us occupied until the sequel hits. More stages, more challenge, and a new balloon type are all the excuses we need to keep tossing darts. Play More Bloons.



Want to see your free online game featured on In the Flash? Mention it in the comments section below and you may.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.