Game Title: Balloon Fight
Release Date: 1985
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Genre/Type: Arcade Style 2D Platformer
Game Rating: [IV/V]
While the game play might entirely original, Balloon Fight clearly makes up for it with solid game play, challenging levels, as well as charm.
Balloon Fight is an odd, yet fascinating game. It uses some core game play features as well as some modes from previous games. The aesthetic qualities are original, but on the simple side. With these facts laid out up front, it can be pretty hard to think that there is not much that Balloon Fight has to offer. However, the well implemented adopted features coupled with some extra features make Balloon Fight greater that the sum of all these elements.
Balloon Fight does not have a story of any sort and the point of this title is pretty straight forward. This game is all about groups of enemies and the player dealing with them. The game is pretty non-linear when comes to how the player gets the job done. The player plays the role of a fellow with two balloons attached to his back. By flapping his arms, he can fly and traverse any part of a level environment within reason. However, all is not well for there are gremlins who use loose team tactics to pop both the player’s balloons. Once the player looses both balloons one life is lost. Once all lives are lost the game ends in arcade like fashion.
In essence, Balloon Fight is a game that borrows a core game play mechanic from a previously released arcade classic. Aerial combat is the main focus of Balloon Fight which is adopted from Atari’s Joust. Though maneuvering through level environment is important, the primary focus is taking down groups of gremlins by popping all the balloons on their backs. The level is completed after all gremlins are defeated.
The style of play is a bit on the difficult side because of how well the artificial gravity is implemented in Balloon Fight. However, this is not a problem as the game has just the right pace as well as progression of difficulty. There are no unfair leaps in difficulty from one level to the next and, for those who feel the pacing might be to fast for them, will be happy to know that there are casual bonus stages in between small stretches of levels to further break up the action.
Though there is much fun to be had from the single player mode in Balloon Fight, the multiplayer component of the game earns its place at the highest point of the experience. The multiplayer is structured in the same fashion as the single player mode, but does have some substantial variations. One of the most noticeable changes is that the base of difficulty for Balloon Fight’s multiplayer mode is higher. This might seem like a bigger challenge, but it actually balances the challenge to the same degree as the single player mode by compensating for the presence of another human player. Another interesting aspect of the multiplayer mode is that both players can either cooperate to get through as many levels as possible or compete to the death; the choice is theirs. This definitely makes for a fun shared experience.
While The first two modes offer some fun game play with moderate difficulty, the last mode does not share these characteristics. The adventure mode is a single player segment where expert maneuvering is the primary focus. There are no enemies in this mode, but there are stars that align to form randomized paths that the player must traverse with precision. Coming into contact with these path forming stars is fatal and results in the game coming to an end. There are no extra lives like in the first two modes, so the player only has one shot to make it the furthest to earn a high score. This mode is fantastic for those looking for a bigger challenge after proving their worth in the first two modes.
The graphics as well as the music are both on the simple side. Neither of them could stand well alone or together. The two aesthetic elements that truly culminate with the game play are the animations and the sound effects. All the sprite animations have a unique flow to them which adds to the notion of flying around and drifting through each level. This is accompanied by the odd and quirky sounds that helps give the game some extra charm.
Not one of these elements mentioned above would carry weight on its own. The visuals and audio qualities of Balloon are great in some ways, but simple in others. The game play is not necessarily original. However, with the solid game play coupled with proper pacing, the game plays very well. The multiplayer is a total blast and will most likely be the part of the game that most players are bound to revisit. Animations along with fitting sound effects help to bring the experience into a cohesive package that delivers in a big way. With much fun to be had with all the significant aspects of Balloon Fight as well as sheer challenge, this is a game well worth your time.