Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #41: Balloon Fight (Famicom)


Game: Balloon Fight
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
System: Famicom
Release date: 1985

What a difference a decade makes. I distinctly remember renting the North American version of this game, one of the first released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, on a few occasions as a teen, and each time I did so I turned it off after about 15 minutes wondering, "Why in the hell did I rent this again?" For some reason, the Joust-esque gameplay of its main campaign bored me back then. To tell you the truth, it still bores me today. That's not to suggest there's something wrong with that mode, mind you--it ably apes (i.e., rips off) the feel of the aforementioned Williams Entertainment arcade classic while covering up its apocalyptic aesthetic with such cheery adornments as balloons, bird masks (well, that's what they look like to me) and, uh, a big, grinning fish--but it's just not my cup of tea. What is my cup of tea, at least these days, is the game's "Balloon Trip" mode. For those of you who have never played this mode, it places players in a forced-scrolling (from left to right) stage and tasks them with avoiding sparks and collecting balloons for as long as possible. It's completely maddening, of course, but it's also completely addicting--in that "I'll just play one more round" kind of way. Another aspect of Balloon Fight that's sure to bring you back again and again: Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka's cheery, chunky, propulsive soundtrack.


See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

17 comments:

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Have you ever finished it? I have come VERY close...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Which mode -- the regular one or 'Balloon Trip'? If you're asking about the former, no, definitely not, as I don't like that mode very much. As for the latter: There isn't an end to the 'Balloon Trip' mode, is there?

Motherplayer said...

Ohhh this was a very interesting look into the game.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Do like this game, too, Motherplayer? Regardless, glad you like this little review of it :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I meant Balloon Trip. There isn't an end? But...it counts your rank or whatever...counts down as you go. I always assumed that once you got to 1 or whatever, you'd have to land and start over, maybe? Guess not.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, no, sorry to burst your, er, balloon, Justin, but I'm pretty sure there's no end. I may be wrong, but I feel as though I got to 1 at some point in the recent past (yes, my mind is going on me) and after that it kept going. Assuming my memory is correct, you stay in first place (obviously) and the score continues to increase. Anyway, now I'm going to have to spend some quality time with the game again and make sure I'm right!

Famicom Freak said...

I love this game! The box art is delicious too! I love throwing my co-op buddy to the fat fish! har har har!

Sean said...

I like the trip mode in this one better than the main game too. Very addictive:)

I agree with FF too, that box art is delicious. This one boxed is very high on my want list.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Famicom Freak: I love that you describe the cover art for this one "delicious." What a perfect word for it :)

I've sadly never played the game with another human being, but I can imagine sending your friend into that fish's gaping maw would be a blast!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Sean: This was at the top of my "boxed Famicom cart" wish list when I began collecting Famicom games. I was amazed when I saw this copy on eBay, as I hadn't seen any boxed copies on the service before that time. Sure, it's not in perfect shape, but that's OK with me. The game works and you can still see the cover art, so all is OK with me :)

Adam said...

I played it first through animal crossing. Thought it was okay

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, yes, I forgot that this was in Animal Crossing. To be honest, I didn't much like the game back then either. It wasn't until I really started playing the "Balloon Trip" mode that I got into it -- and even then it's only good in fits and spurts, in my opinion.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

All my childhood dreams....dashed.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ha! Sorry about that, Justin.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin: Here's video proof that "Balloon Trip" mode continues on after you reach the #1 position.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acT_Q3wnF9g

BTW, I never knew before now that if you collect a certain number of balloons in a row they change colors!

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I had no idea about that, either...he got to 1 in NO TIME! Wow...I had no idea the rank had anything to do with your score. I thought it was all about how LONG you flew...hm. Kudos to me for missing the whole mechanic...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yeah, he blew my mind by reaching the pole position so quickly. Like I said earlier, I'm sure I reached the #1 spot at some point in the past, but it took me a loooooooot longer than that! Most of the time, though, I get into the teens before croaking...