Balloon Fight

Let’s pop in and see what’s going on here.

Review Date: February 21, 2021

Release Date: August 1, 1986

Platform: NES

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Awesome Weirdness

I got a twofer! I was just seconds away from finishing round 1.

Anecdotes: My family waited a little while to get this title; it never really stood out. It never really blew up. Once we got it, though, we had a lot of fun with it. Generally, we liked to play it competitively, trying to pop each other’s balloons just as much as the enemies’. The biggest laugh we got was when my brother flew low and a fish came out and ate him! At that point, we didn’t know a fish existed and my brother and I made fun of him quite a bit. We knew after that not to fly low, and eventually tried the strategy of just flying across the screen, but that didn’t quite work like we had hoped.

Interspersed with the battle stages are stages to collect bonus points by popping as many balloons as possible.

Description: There are three modes. The first two are identical, except for the numbers of players. Players control an unnamed person who can fly because there are two balloons overhead. The enemies, who are also unnamed, are trying to pop the balloons. The two sides are trying to pop each other’s balloons by flying to the higher position and hitting the balloon. Each level is a single screen, but they are well varied. The third mode, called Balloon Trip, asks players to fly right to left on an autoscrolling screen. The idea is to see how many loose balloons the player can pop and how far a player can advance before getting zapped or eaten.

Here’s a sampling of the Balloon Trip. Popping balloons leads to bonus points, but any contact with the lightning, the water, or the hidden fish ends the run immediately.

Positives: That Balloon Trip music is amazing! It’s catchy and fun, much like rest of the game. The Balloon Trip mode is fun to play even if the player is a one hit point wonder (dead in one hit); players can always replay it to try not to miss a single balloon, to get a longer distance, or simply a higher score. The main game has a wide variety of screens to play on, so it can hold interest for some time. And nothing is cooler than the shark that randomly appears to eat anyone that flies too close to the water.

That fish is awesome. It hides it the water and appears when it’s hungry.

Negatives: I’ll try to be nice so people don’t think I’m full of hot air. Really, there are only two flaws I’ve noticed:

  1. The controls are slow to respond and it’s a bit of a challenge for players to move their character around the screen. This may have been an attempt to be realistic, but in a game where a balloon can lift people and animals off the ground, lightning bounces around the area slowly, and platforms just float in midair, realism can be tossed out the window.
  2. Balloon Trip has great music and a fun concept, but after a while, players will realize it never ends and doesn’t add anything new during a run.
Why not throw a few propellers into the mix?

Grade: B

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