Review by Xodyak
"For 30 cents, you got me, but the first VC game should've been more"
For months Nintendo fans have wondered how the Virtual Console would translate to the Wii U. After they announced their plans, the announced their 30th Famicom Anniversary deal with games for 30 cents each for 30 days, with the first game being this one, Balloon Fight for the NES. As the first release for the new Virtual Console on Wii U, this game showcases some of the new bells and whistles the transition marks. But is this game worth your money, maybe for the second or third time?
To begin, Balloon Fight is classic arcade style fare. The game features your character strapped to two balloons (essentially your health bar) and you have to repeatedly press the A or B button to fly or flutter or whatever you want to call it. While airborne, you must strategically take down the other balloon people in the level, first by popping their balloon, then by touching them without their balloon, or just plunk them in the lake. There is also the balloon trip mode, which fans of Nintendoland should recognize. Essentially, you take your balloon man and try to avoid the various hazards that will kill you.
You can't expect much in terms of graphics or sound considering this game's age. It really looks like an early 80's game, but I'm pretty sure that the NES was more capable then what is shown here, especially considering what Super Mario looked like when it arrived around the same time. While the character models sever their purpose and you really can't ask for more, level detail is sorely lacking with each level having basic looking platforms and a stark, black background. This could have something to do with hardware limitations at the time, maybe because they wanted to put more characters on screen, but it looks suspiciously bad considering what Mario was able to do around the same time. The sound, of course, is annoying, repetitive, and you will probably be looking for something else to listen to when you play your session.
This being a very early NES release, the game is high in difficulty, but easy to pick up and play. The whole point is to just rack up your score as high as you can manage and then rinse wash and repeat. This is where there is a problem with this game. Balloon has all the complexity of a free iPod game, but the cost for this isn't justified outside of the 30 cent deal that was offered. While this could be said of most of the Virtual Console as a whole, games like these really expose the point.
However, there are some things on here that showcase what the Wii U Virtual Console will be capable of doing. Being able to play this on the gamepad is great and a welcome addition, which may make some of the more premier games worth the price admission alone. Miiverse interaction is also really interesting, as you can see and post photos from your game, displaying high scores and various other situations. While this isn't an online leader board, which would have been appreciated, it's pretty cool considering Nintendo's online acumen. There is now save states that can be utilized, being able to save that old high score that you got on your last play through. I haven't tried to see if this can be abused to drive up your high score, but if you're doing that you're probably missing the point.
All this being said, if you didn't pick this up for 30 cents, unless you really, really want to play Balloon Fight due to interest or pure nostalgia, this is one game that you should probably pass up. The game isn't bad, and is quite enjoyable, but compared to what is out there for a buck or less on various platforms, this game just doesn't hold up and is no where near the 500 Wii points or $5 that it will eventually command. For 30 cents though, you will find a fun, classic, pure old Nintendo game that will have you trying to beat your high score over and over again. Purchase with consideration.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/11/13
Game Release: Balloon Fight (US, 01/23/13)
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