|A strange game but in a good way.|
Balloon Fight is a neat little game released for the NES in 1986. It is rather reminiscent of the arcade game Joust, utilising same left, right and ‘flap’ controls. The game is a quite bizarre and there is no backstory to the game in the manual (which is probably just as well).
The games takes place on a single wraparound screen with some platforms scattered around and water at the bottom. You start the game strapped to a couple of balloons. For whatever reason you have to fly around the screen popping the balloons of your enemies while they attempt the same.
Enemy balloons can only be popped by attacks from above and if successful the enemy descends by parachute. If you hit the parachute or the enemy lands in the water he will die. If he lands on solid ground he will inflate another balloon after a short time – you can kill the enemy by hitting them again before they take off. When an enemy lands in the water, a bubble rises up the screen which can be collected for bonus points.
If the player is successfully hit by an enemy, one of his two balloons will burst. This makes flying a bit harder, but thankfully you can flap your arms continuously by holding down the B button. If the second balloon is popped you will lose one of your three lives. You can also lose a life by being eaten by a fish if you venture too close to the water. If you take too long to clear a screen a lightning bolt travels around the screen that is fatal if touched.
After every third stage there is a bonus round where the aim is to pop as many balloons as possible that are released by pipes at the bottom of the screen.
Balloon Fight can also be played with two players either competitively or co-operatively but I haven't had chance to try this mode.
The sound and graphics are nothing special but do their job adequately. The controls can take a little getting used to due the inertia but can be picked up within a short time. Additionally there is a good scoring system that rewards skilled players. Overall this is a great game.