Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'll bet you can't guess which game I bought in the place of Xenoblade Chronicles

Did you guess Hello Kitty World for the Famicom? I'll bet you didn't!

I see those side-eyes some of you are shooting in my general direction, by the way. I understand. Hello Kitty World probably seems like a strange choice for an off-the-cuff pick-up if you've never heard of the game.

Actually, I shouldn't call this purchase "off the cuff," as I've had my eye on Hello Kitty World for some time now. Still, I wasn't planning to add it to my Famicom collection anytime soon.

That changed pretty quickly, though, when I saw a complete-in-box copy of the game on eBay a few days ago. Long story short (I know, too late), I ended up getting it for a song.

Anyway, back to Hello Kitty World and why I was so keen to acquire it: Have you ever played Balloon Kid, Nintendo's Balloon Fight follow-up for the GameBoy? If not, it's a forced-scrolling platformer that hit store shelves in North America in 1990.

                                           A zoomed-in view of Hello Kitty World

The game feels a lot like a much-expanded version of Balloon Fight's "Balloon Trip" mode, to tell you the truth, as it tasks players with collecting the balloons left behind by the protagonist's kid brother (who was accidentally sent airborne while attempting to create a "balloon rainbow" that would cross the sky) while avoiding birds, fish and other obstacles that will cause her to plummet to the ground. (She grabs a couple of balloons and uses them to chase after her little bro, you see.)

Now, if you took the game described above, replaced Nintendo's characters with Sanrio's main claim to fame and then re-released it as a Famciom cart, you'd have Hello Kitty World.

My interest in said game makes sense now, doesn't it? If not, please take a minute to watch this video (which shows both Balloon Kid and Hello Kitty World in action).

As for Xenoblade Chronicles: Don't worry, I still plan to pick up a copy of this highly regarded Wii title--although I likely won't do so until after my birthday. In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to acquaint myself with the above-mentioned Character Soft creation.


Sean said...

Nice find! Actually I recently became interested in this game recently when I learned that it was sort of the sequel to Balloon Fight. I got it in a lot a while ago and never played it, thinking it was some sort of Kitty chan RPG or something. I have to go through some boxes to find it, it looks like a good one.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, you definitely should find it, Sean. Although I actually prefer Balloon Kid -- Hello Kitty isn't really my thing (shocking, I know) -- they're basically the same game aside from aesthetics. Anyway, give it a play sometime soon and let me know what you think of it!

Drew said...

Two thoughts: While I've never played this game in its Hello Kitty form, I actually played the hell out of Balloon Kid back in the day. No idea how I wound up buying that game, but when I realized it was a sequel to Balloon Fight, I was a very happy kid.

Secondly, unless I'm mistaken, Balloon Kid is notable for being Nintendo's second-ever game in which the main character was female. (The first being Metroid.) I could be leaving someone out, I suppose, but itwas actually a strange move on Nintendo's part, historically speaking, to cast a girl as the lead in a game that wasn't particularly gendered. Doubtless, little Alice on the cover might have turned off a few boys who didn't want to play a "girl game," but it wasn't an impediment for me.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Drew!

Oh, man, it's great to hear from another Balloon Kid (and Balloon Fight, I'm assuming) fan! I didn't actually own the game as a kid, but I did rent it on a number of occasions. If ever I can find a boxed version of the game on eBay (yeah, I'm weird like that), though, I'll finally right that wrong :)

Anyway, to your second point: Yes, I think Nintendo's decision to make the protagonist a female is interesting, especially if it's true that this was only the second time they had done so. (How weird is that?)

You're probably right, by the way, that showing Alice on the cover likely turned off some guy gamers. I wonder if the opposite was true, too, though -- and Alice's presence attracted some girls gamers? I sure hope so.

Anyway, it should go without saying that Alice's placement in the game also wasn't a problem for me back in the day. In fact, I think it's partially what first attracted me to the game. Of course, it helps that her in-game sprite is one of the cutest 8-bit sprites I've ever seen :)

famicomfreak said...

Ah Balloon Fight (Kid) is one of my favorite series evah! I remember playing it on a multi cart on my NES during my youth. I always enjoyed leaving the enemies to kill my partner while playing the game. I tend to make people mad when playing games with me so they would leave me alone to play them...they always slowed me down lol I know I was so evil back then...still am ^_^

Adam said...

I've never played Balloon Kid. I've played Balloon Fight and Joust, but never the GB game.

I watched the video. It's a bit shameless copying regardless if Nintendo let them do it or not.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, so you liked to play two-player Balloon Fight, Famicom Freak? I've sadly never played it that way. Just single-player for me. Maybe that's why the main mode of Balloon Fight never was my favorite. Balloon Trip mode, on the other hand ;)

Bryan Ochalla said...

If you like Balloon Fight, Adam, you should give Balloon Kid a try at some point. Just be warned that it's not at all Joust-like (as I'm guessing you saw in the video). It's more like a full-fledged game that sprouted out of Balloon Fight's "Balloon Trip" mode.

As for Hello Kitty World being a shameless copy: I guess you could say that, but it's pretty clear Nintendo allowed it. I mean, literally everything about the game is the same as Balloon Kid except for the graphics (meaning, the enemies, level layout, etc. are the same).

Unknown said...

If it's got Hello Kitty in it, it gets the thumbs up from me! Plus, that screenshot is just too adorable.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

HOW FUN! I might have to go rom hunting...and...also...I never knew there was a Balloon Fight sequel.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I didn't realize you're a Hello Kitty fan, Anne! Do you like other Sanrio characters, too? If so, you should check out Sanrio Smash Ball for the Super Famicom. A great little game that includes a number of the company's characters (although not Hello Kitty, strangely enough).

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes! Go ROM hunting. Be sure to download the Balloon Fight GB (see my most recent post) ROM, Justin, and play it on a GBA emulator. That's my favorite version of the game. Hello Kitty World would come in second for me...