Game: Balloon Fight
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