Think back to a time before Super Mario Bros.…pretty difficult, isn’t it? Back in the old days before the plucky plumber went on his first full scale adventure Nintendo was still moderately successful with a range of exciting, yet demanding video games. One particular game is the obstacle course known as Balloon Fight. In the game you control a man with balloons attached to his back, destined to “topple” the pointy faced enemies, whilst avoiding their pointy faces and the water (and giant fish) below.
Storywise, the game is paper thin. We, as the gamer, are not told why we are fighting balloon people and what the outcome will be. Why do bubbles give you more points? Why don’t the balloon enemies always have two balloons inflated at one time in the earlier levels when they have two (or more) balloons on them at all times? Anyway, it’s just a game, let’s talk about the gameplay.
Think swimming, but in the sky. Tough to control, it is, but you do get used to it. Soon you’re flapping about avoiding those pesky pointed people, knocking them out and putting them in the water. But make sure you do knock them into the water! Their pointy beaks don’t burst your balloons when they’re on land, but if left for too long they re-inflate and get back their pointy powers of spiky flight. The airbourne woes continue when gangs of the dungaree wearing enemies flock around you with that single objective of destroying you. Finally, with the balloon fight aspect of the game, every few levels you get a bonus level involving balloons coming out of pipes. Collect them all to really boost your high score.
But that is not all. Apart from the mid-flight fighting, there’s another mode: Balloon Trip. In this section of the game your ability to control the character is really put to the test. The game scrolls automatically whilst you navigate through the maze of lightning sparks collecting balloons for points and bubbles to freeze the screen for a few seconds. This high-score-athon also doubles as a training mode. With a steady difficulty curve, play this mode enough and soon you’d be manoeuvring all the modes in the game like a pro.
So what are the best and cleverist parts of Balloon Fight? Well, if a balloon is popped, some lift is lost, making it harder to control. This means one has to be as aware when the balloon fighter has two balloons as when he has a single balloon. Something else to have a go at is the two player mode (coming soon to Nintendo 3DS) as you and a friend can play co-operatively to destroy all of the enemies, whilst working competitively to get the highest score. Nintendo’s rivalry mechanic at its best.