Balloon Fight (NES) Retrogaming Review


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Balloon Fight is a arcade game for the NES developed and published by Nintendo. The idea of the game is quite simple, both the player character and the enemies (aliens?) have balloons and you have to pop them without getting yours popped back. It also has a 2 player mode and Balloon Trip which is an obstacle course of sorts.

Like a lot of the other arcade style games by Nintendo on the NES it is ported from an actual arcade aka the Nintendo Vs. System. That version had different level layouts as vertical scrolling was possible while the NES version was the only one with ‘Balloon Trip’.

Visuals were nice for what type of game it was, never really got an idea of what the enemies were (aliens wearing long nose masks?) but it didn’t matter. There wasn’t really much music though, probably better to be honest for the satisfying sound of their balloons being popped.

The controls are pretty easy to get used to, B is constant ‘flapping’ which is good for when you want to go up fast and A does a single ‘flap’ for more precise movement. Although i never really used A that much at all nor felt that it was 100% necessary either considering you could just tap B.

Worth mentioning while I say ‘Pop their balloons without getting yours popped’is while your character will die as soon as their balloons are popped the aliens will float down gently with parachutes and will need to be hit again while they are floating or once they’ve landed, in which they will try to blow up a new balloon.

Despite how simple this might sound its actually more complex, firstly each level starts with the aliens blowing up their balloons therefore some can be taken out before they even leave the platform they’re on which is great for speedrunners and secondly you get a lot more points if you defeat them in quick succession and if you kill them by hitting them before they land (although you could technically let one constantly get themselves a new balloon).

There are obviously other obstacles as well, 2 of the 3 examples would be ‘sparks’ that insta-kill the player if they touch and spinners that knock stuff back and can easily screw over the player if they aren’t careful. The 3rd (thats always there from the start) is the best, essentially there is a huge fish in the water at the bottom of the screen and if you go to close it jumps up and eats you but if you attack the aliens so they float down into the water they’ll usually get eaten too which is even more satisfying than just popping their balloons.

On top of the usual stages there are occasional bonus stage where you must pop balloons coming out of pipes. I usually ignore Bonus levels in my reviews but i realised that not only are they a great way to get alot of points quickly via the Super Bonus (popping all balloons) but it really helps you improve your control as well.

The extra mode Balloon Trip is a mode where the player must survive as long as possible popping balloons and dodging the insta death sparks as the screen scrolls to the left. After around 10,000 points the sparks go from being static to moving but there are also bubbles which temporarily halt everything (including the screen) that make it easier to get more points or get to a safe place.

Overall i think this game is a really fun thing for both Single and Multi Player. Definitely something that you should at least try once (or more).

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