Review: Balloon Fight (NES)

Balloon Light

Before games like Metroid and The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo's NES console relied on simple arcade titles to keep itself afloat. Balloon Fight used an already-successful gameplay mechanic similar to that of William's Joust arcade release, and while it offers up some simple arcade enjoyment, the repetitive gameplay keeps it from lasting, ultimately creating an experience that's far more redundant than fun.

In Balloon Fight, you take on the role of a bird who finds two balloons strapped to its back, and must flap around each area landing on enemies in order to pop their balloons and send them falling to the ground. Once on the ground, they become vulnerable and you can then run down and kick them off into the water below. Of course, you'll have to stay on your toes as they won't go down without a fight, and if the enemies pop both of your own balloons you'll be the one falling into the water.

To make things a bit more interesting, each level tosses a different set of platform arrangements your way, not to mention a host of new hazards. Everything from fluffy clouds that will occasionally strike out a bolt of lightning, to the fish patiently waiting to gobble you up should you get too close to the water at the bottom of the screen.

To add a bit of variety to the experience, the developers have also included a second mode called Balloon Race. In this mode, you'll have to flap around a host of dangerous objects, collecting as many balloons as you can as the screen slowly scrolls along. While a nice change of pace, this mode is quite difficult and tends to bring out the control limitations as you try to maneuver through some extremely tight spots, with controls that don't exactly lend themselves to pinpoint navigation.

For anyone that's ever played any of the earlier NES efforts, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Balloon Fight. Simple enemies and platforms abound in each level, but with only a basic black backdrop there's not a lot of flash from a visual standpoint. The same can pretty much be said of the audio presentation as you'll get a small variety of quirky arcade-style sound effects and little more.

Conclusion

Balloon Fight is a great idea that just doesn't have enough depth or originality to keep you coming back for more. Even the cute characters and additional mode aren't enough to lift the experience up and keep the fun rolling. Unless you're just a diehard Nintendo fan that has to own everything the company has produced over the years, you'd definitely be better off passing on this rather bland and repetitive arcade experience.