Retro Rewind - Balloon Fight Review
The two humans of this area, my partner and I quietly stand at opposite ends of the stage. A high number of meddling birds sit idly, ready to attack. One of us in blue and the other in red, we know what's coming. The weather is against us and something is lurking in the water to devour us should we get too close. All we can hope is that our balloons last long enough to deflate every enemy's balloons before we fall to our deaths. The game is on... this is Balloon Fight!
Balloon Fight was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System way back in 1984, proving to be an addictive, smash hit. Fast forward 30+ years later and this gem is released on the new Mini NES console. It still stands up to this day and is as fun as ever given its immense simplicity (on the surface anyway).
You can play on your own or with a friend, but the enticing missions you find yourself taking on consist of keeping your balloons intact while flying around the map. Popping the enemy's balloons while flying around the arena map is trickier than you might think. It doesn't stop there, however, as you'll soon find yourself dodging lightning strikes and a man (or bird) eating fish swimming below. Once the bad birds have landed you then need to knock them out once and for all or you'll find them refilling new balloons. As you advance, the difficulty increases and even though the levels start to repeat themselves after a certain time, the difficulty never wanes.
It wasn't the first time I played this gem (and it won't be the last) but the feeling of fun never depletes. Using the directional pad to move and glide while pressing one of the buttons to flap your arms, it is immensely fun (and tricky) to pop those enemy's balloons. Once all the birds have been cleared, it's time for the next level. As you can quite imagine, being an 80's NES game, the variety isn't massive but it doesn't matter. Soon all that matters is keeping yourself in the air. Trying to do this alongside a partner can be very rewarding. More than a few laughs occur while trying to avoid each other's balloons (yes, they pop just like all the others). Some co-op tactics definitely come in handy here but as you progress, it just becomes all out chaos (only the good kind).
The sound effects are simple yet perfect, taking us back to a more nostalgic time when 8-bit music ruled the arcades. Flapping your arms, popping balloons, and smashing birds all sound exactly like you would expect from a NES retro classic.
Music wise, the game has aged incredibly well. Almost everyone remembers and loves the Balloon Fight theme along with the tunes that accompany the arena levels. Beautiful melodies (while although short) accompany your play time.
As mentioned before, Balloon Fight is a simple piece requiring one button to flap and gain height (or the other to flap continuously and gain speed), and the directional pad to move left or right. It doesn't take long before you're accustomed to the controls and you are lifting, gliding, and smashing your way to victory.
Did I mention the arena map also allows you to pass through one side and emerge from the other? Well, that's an idea for some cool tactics! The AI starts off easy enough but much sooner rather than later, you will be sweating and your fingers will start cramping rookie. Even with this in mind, Balloon Fight is next to impossible to stop playing!
This being a 1984 release, you're not going to have amazing, flashy graphics. In other words, yes it is pixelated, but colorful to boot. One could say that the graphics (and sound) have aged incredibly well, especially since many current indie games use this tactic to save time and money when developing.
Animations are once again simple but this game proves that you don't need flashy graphics to make a game work. These would have been amazing 30 years ago however, so try to keep that in mind.
When it comes to retro titles, it's a little bit easier to determine the replay value. With Balloon Fight being an arcade original, this game was made to be played over and over again. Just try to see how far you (and maybe a friend) can get!
Balloon Fight is a great game that anyone can pick up and play easily, with level completion being quite quick if you're really good. It is also great to play with the kids, should you have any.
This game really is a NES classic making its home in almost every older gamer's heart. I haven't come across anyone yet who has said they didn't like the game. If you didn't, let me know in the comments section but then, why would you be reading this review?
I'm rating this little retro gem classic 8/10. It is one of my ageing favorites and the proof for this score is simple. Just ask any gamer you know if they didn't like Balloon Fight.
There is also a 'Lightning Run' mini-game that's available should you get tired of the arena courses. The 'Lightning Run' is an obstacle course filled with, well, lightning... so good luck!
I would recommend this game to absolutely everyone, whether you are a new gamer or a seasoned veteran. I really mean it; young, old, gamer, non-gamer. It's a great way to get people together and have some simple, two player, two button fun. It's also perfect for those with little time available on their hands as most levels only last minutes. You should definitely play this game if you like games like Ice Climber, Donkey Kong Jr., or Kid Icarus.