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Balloon Fight Review

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 1986 Also On:

And I come to another legend. Balloon Fight was one of my favorite games when I was younger. It exemplifies everything a game needs to reach true greatness and its design, sound, and play stand the test of time and probably will until the human race no longer exists. It’s an incredibly innovative little game with a lot of character. If you haven’t played this yet, read on!

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Graphically, I love what Balloon Fight sets out to do. You have a playing field that consists of a series of islands (some floating in the air) and a body of water during the night. Your character has that classic, cute, early-Famicom Japense look to him, and the enemies look simply menancing in their mosquito-like attire. The arrangements tend to be very simple, but highly effective, and of particular note are the wonderfully programmed animations. I don’t think it’s possible to suggest the partial weightlessness of hovering by a few balloons than Balloon Fight manages to pull off. Spot on in this category.

The sound is another strong area for Balloon Fight. The music tracks are iconic, and of interest to my ears are the wonderful effects they use on your enemies. I don’t think it’s possible for a sound effect be more fitting than you’ll find in this game. They sound as grating and sharp as their countenances suggest. The incessantly evil sound of their flapping really manages to up the tension, especially when their are tight spots to navigate through. Add to this little features like the evil track of the fish if it eats you or one of your enemies, and you have a great sounding game. Balloon Fight does it again.

As its name suggesst, Balloon Fight is just that, a battle between you, another player if you want, and a series of enemies all while wearing balloons. Your goal is to pop all of their balloons and then snap the ropes on their parachutes or knock them off platforms they may manage to alight before they pump up their balloons. Very simple, but Balloon Fight manages to mix it up with a progressive difficulty level and lots of little tricks and features. You have a fish in the water that will eat you if you draw too close, lightning bolts that appear if you’re taking too long, small platforms that are difficult to navigate through, spinning platforms that send you careening all over the playing field, and even cool bonus levels that really give you the urge to max out your points. In addition to the single and two-player features, you can also take part in the ‘Balloon Trip’, which involves you flying solo and dodging obstacles while collecting balloons to reach a goal. Almost like a mini-platformer that’s continuously moving and is very challenging. At any rate, have a look:

Balloon Fight, for its time, was highly creative. It took the idea behind Joust and did something totally new with it. There’s a lot of strategy and timing to it and the usage of the balloons and the programming that makes you seem weightless is wonderful. They did a great job with it, though the idea may not be totally new when you look at the basics. This, however, is overcome in my opinion by the integration of sound, characters, animations, and so forth. The details really managed to bring Balloon Fight higher up in the creative category for me.

I’ve played Balloon Fight countless times ever since I was first introduced to it. It’s the perfect type of title you can sit down with for a little while or with a friend for some pretty fierce competition. The balloon trip segment is a nice break and pretty challenging, rounding out the game and making you want to come back for more. I can say with certainty you’ll come back to this more than once.

Balloon Fight is a perfect example of why Nintendo’s programming team back in the day was a force to fear. They knew how to make games, they knew how to program them, they knew how to design them, they rarely did anything that could be considered bad. Balloon Fight is without a doubt one of the earlier masterpieces of Nintendo, right up there with Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong, though sadly not remembered as much anymore. Gamers who know it and own it have fond memories and fun playing it for a reason. Definitely worth your time, new gamer or old.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.1
Written by Stan Review Guide