Better late than never, well maybe, I guess you all can tell me. Each week I will review a classic title for the site starting with the collection right at hand thanks to my new NES Classic. So let’s dive right in with our first title: BALLOON FIGHT.
Ahhh the simpler days of gaming where story pretty much means nothing and very much is the case with this title
The player controls an unnamed Balloon Fighter with two balloons attached to his helmet. Repeatedly pressing the A button or holding down the B button causes the Balloon Fighter to flap his arms and rise into the air. If a balloon is popped, the player’s flotation is decreased, making it harder to rise. A life is lost if both balloons are popped by enemy Balloon Fighters, if the player falls in the water, gets eaten by the large piranha near the surface of the water, or is hit by lightning.
There are two modes of play: the 1-player/2-player game where the goal is to clear the screen of enemies, and Balloon Trip where the goal is to avoid obstacles in a side-scrolling stage.
As a child I honestly never cared too much for this game and spent very little time with it up until now.
The controls are a little wonky in this game but understandably so, your main way of travel is via floating on balloons. For newcomers the first couple of attempts are needed to purely understand the gaming physics behind the game. The stage variation is similar to other games of this time where after a little while it all becomes and looks the same until the AI becomes so rage inducing you die. The music in the game is very familiar and I find myself humming along.
Overall I greatly prefer the Balloon Trip mode which is clearly what inspired such “modern-day” phenomenon like Flappy Bird. For me it gives me a greater challenge and leaves the player to rely on skill over chance in order to succeed and can also make playing against a friend alot more fun! Is this a title to drop everything and rush and play right now, certainly not, but it’s good to know your roots.