Some might argue that Balloon Fight is just a clone of Williams Electronics’ Joust and those people would not be wrong. An original Black Box game, Balloon Fight takes the greatness that was the arcade classic of Joust and creates a cute and huggable Nintendo title that has gone down through the ages as a timeless classic in its own right.
Truth be told, there’s not a whole lot to Balloon Fight or its mini-game Balloon Trip. You play a helmeted gentleman with two balloons strapped to your belt. You flap you arms like a maniac to fly around the screen combatting your mortal enemy, the other color balloon people. Damn those guys! You can slap the A-Button over and over or just hold down the B-Button to give your thumb a rest. The point of the game was to get slightly higher elevation than your enemy and pop their balloons. They then fall to the ground where they proceed to start pumping their balloons back up to get into the fight. If they’re successful they become slightly harder to take out. If the combat lasts too long the background gets involved and the clouds will start belching lighting bolts. Things can get out of control in a heartbeat.
As was the case with many quick level games from the 80’s, every 3 levels sent you to a bonus stage where you would try and pop balloons across the screen for extra points. Playing a 2 player mode would allow you to team up with your buddy against the primitive AI. In all its a pretty fun game, but one that can get a little stale after too many plays.
That brings me to the “mini” game, Balloon Trip. In Balloon Trip you move from right to left across the screen avoiding the floating electric stars as they move about the screen. It’s a fun challenge game and something akin to what Flappy Birds would eventually become. And those young whipper snappers thought that stupid bird game was unique.
A historical side note:
This game was programmed by the much loved and “gone far too soon” Satoru Iwata. The eventual 4th president and CEO of Nintendo famously programmed many early games, worked for HAL Laboratory, and eventually worked as a programmer for the amazing Nintendo R&D 1.
This game is also very available, being ported to just about everything. If you get a chance to play it, give it a whirl and remember Iwata fondly as you pop the balloons of your enemies.
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