Review by Snow Dragon

"A first-gen gem"

If only all games had this kind of incredible inspiration. Maybe we'd all still be playing this if it had saved video games from the brink of insolvency instead of Mario, but as it is, it didn't, and as a result, we no longer talk about it. That's a crying shame, because this game is one that I would consider a classic that should be in everyone's plastic tub of cartridges.

In Balloon Fight, you appear to have two balloons tied to the belt loop on the back of your pants. By rapidly tapping the A button, you propel yourself through the air trying to pop others' balloons, all while avoiding a rush of lightning, bouncing devices, and orange fish that can make a midnight snack out of you. For a game of its time, this game has great physics. When you lose a balloon, it becomes twice as difficult to lift yourself off the ground and have a decent amount of grace about your ballooning. Once both your balloons are gone, you plummet to your death. It's that simple. Trying to best the opponents (and your friend if you play two-player) for the title of Balloon King is a pursuit some would call trivial, but somehow I would feel perfectly inclined to sit for hours and strive for that totally useless moniker.

There's not much to choose from at the title screen. You can go solo fighting, do it with a friend, or go on an infinite Balloon Trip where you pop balloons while avoiding an electrical storm in order to climb from the lowly 50th rank to first place. Since both of the game's modes never end unless you lose, this game has infinite replay value in that you can attempt to achieve higher plateaus (no pun intended) each time you play.

The music on this game is pretty nice for an 18-year-old game (!). It has a really heavy bass line that's (pardon me for saying so) fun to groove to. I am also appreciative of the airtight controls that some of today's so-called next-gen games can't seem to get right. And this controller had five buttons, if you count the D-Pad as one. The controls make Balloon Fight fun and a challenge at the same time. Sound effects are great, especially when you pop a balloon and return to the screen after losing a life. Everything sounds, works, and grooves like it should, and for that I am most pleased.

Since this title is so old, it's probably impossible to get a rental copy these days, so try to find an old, old cart or procure the ROM. While the mundane activity of popping balloons may not sound like all it's cracked up to be, this game makes it appear so that nicotine is merely a hobby that one dabbles in their spare time. Even though classics such as Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. 3 are a part of my collection, I often turn to this one more than those. For a pair of balloons to be able to hold its own against those two powerhouses really makes a statement.

Score: 9

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/18/02, Updated 05/18/02

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