Blast from the Past: Balloon Fight (NES)
I started playing video games when I was really young, so young that I don’t know what my first game was. Heck, I don’t even remember when I started playing certain games, they were just pre-programmed into my head. Balloon Fight is one of them. I don’t know when I started playing it, but it’s been in my noodle ever since.
Balloon Fight was originally released as an arcade game, but soon moved onto the NES. Now it can be found on the Virtual Console to be played on your 3DS and Wii U. It has been available for quite some time, so I thought it was about time to cover it. If you’ve played it in your youth, you’ll instantly recognise everything about it and feel like your skills over the years will help you get a really high score. Well, let me tell you this, that game was designed to be tough, forever.
Two Balloons are all you’ll ever need
In Balloon Fight, for the uninitiated, you play a random man with two balloons strapped to his back. Your objective is to pop the balloons of all the enemies in that level. There are three types: pink (slow), green (average) and beige (fast) balloon enemies. You do this by flying around the stage and hitting the enemy’s balloon and then hitting his parachute or shoving him off a cliff. If the enemy hits your balloon, one will pop, making flying around more difficult. Another hit and you lose a life.
Sound difficult? Like most arcade games, the main point of the game is to get a hi-score. And no hi-score game is ever easy for long. Other things that can kill you include lightning bolts and a huge jumping fish, should you be too close to the water. There are even little rotating dumbells that push and shove everything that comes into contact with it. As the levels progress, you’ll fight faster enemies, making the levels pretty tough. To add insult to injury, once you lose a life (you only have three), there’s no way to get it back. In-between some of the levels are bonus stages, which restores your balloon if you’ve accidentally had one pop in your adventure. That’s about as forgiving as the game gets.
Moves to master
Although it’s quite tough, it’s addictive and fun. The controls are simple, yet learning the right time to flap and how fast to move takes time to master. This game will test your ability to figure out the agility and reflexes of the main character. There’s also a two-player option via Download Play, but I didn’t have a second DS at the time, so I wasn’t able to check it out.
As you’d expect with a game this old, the graphics aren’t particularly great. It’s clear enough for you to make out who you are and what you’re up against, and that’s pretty much all you need in this game. The music isn’t particularly memorable, but the weird alien noise the enemies make, really creeps me out and makes me want to get rid of them quicker, so I guess that’s a good thing.
Like I’ve mentioned before, this was originally an arcade game, so the point wasn’t to finish some lavish quest, but rather to get your name on the hi-score board. For that reason, the game truly only ends when you’ve used up all three lives. This could be indefinite as you’ll have the restore function.
In addition to the main game, the Virtual Console version (which is based on the NES game) includes Balloon Trip, a sort of mini-game. In it you’ll be tasked with flying around an obstacle course with lightning bolts surrounding you. The aim is to navigate the field (which moves from right to left) all while collecting balloons. You lose if your balloon is popped.
All-in-all, Balloon Fight is still the fun, and tough, game that I remember it to be. I’ve never played Balloon trip before, so that was a nice surprise and something that adds a smidge more value to the already inexpensive game. It’s a very tough sell for those who have never played it before, and certainly don’t advise that you give it a try. This game is for the nostalgic.