Review by starkroid

"Popping balloons was never that much fun, until now!"

Many people know that in some way or another, game companies tend to borrow from a previous title or idea of the past. Sometimes this concept of “borrowing” ideas borders on all out theft. This is definitely the case with Balloon Fight’s striking resemblance to the game ''Joust''. Both have you tapping a button to push your little character around the board in hopes of landing atop your rivals to reach a high score. Where Joust called it quits, though, Balloon Fight continued to tweak and polish in classic Nintendo fashion. Nintendo often likes to make improvements on game that have been already explored. The result, while still a rip-off to some, was so entertaining and popular that nobody really seemed to care.

As mentioned above, Balloon Fight “borrows” heavily from Joust, where your main objective is to maneuver your clunky character on top of the non-player characters to defeat them, clear levels and ultimately try get the high score. The beauty of Balloon Fight is where it improves upon what Joust created. Joust simply had one slightly varying level where you spent the entire game. Balloon Fight on the other hand added hundreds of new maps vastly changing the strategies you had to come up with to complete each level, thus fundamentally dding a whole new dimension to gameplay. Also added were the addition of obstacles such as bumpers and lighting bolts. As if that weren’t enough, Nintendo also tightened the controls and threw in a few bonus levels for good measure. Joust in itself was an addictive and enjoyable game, but that extra magic Nintendo added
to create Balloon Fight made a for truly remarkable experience. Add in solid controls and this is one great pick up and play game.

For it’s time, Balloon Fight had a lot of mobile on screen sprites. To avoid slowdown issues and player confusion, for that matter, Nintendo resorted to smaller and simpler designs than most of the newer games at the time were showing off. Because of character size and resolution limitations, the game’s artists didn’t have a whole lot with which to work. However, despite these considerable limitations, the characters ended up colorful, with a ton of personality. Less impressive however, are the game’s backgrounds. The entire game features one drab, black, starry horizon. This was probably used to avoid the large
amount of on screen characters from blending in with the background, but had they worked a little harder, they could have come up with a few solutions and added some nice variety to levels. Overall, considering the circumstances, Balloon Fight fares nicely when it comes to visuals.

Balloon Fight is once again forced to sacrifice presentation due to the game’s design when it comes to the audio department. Background music is completely absent from this title in order to avoid conflicting with the sound effects associated with active character sprites. On the bright side however, Balloon Fight features some remarkable sound effects and catchy tunes timed to the events occurring in the game. Sound effects clue you in to enemy vulnerability and any danger threatening your character. These dynamic sound effects blend together to act like makeshift background music. They could even be considered some of the first signs of actual interactive background music in games. That alone is enough to earn Balloon Fight a few props in the audio department.

Multiplayer is basically the same as the single player experience. The only difference is simultaneous involvement where both players compete against each other for bragging rights and high scores. Innovation is where Nintendo shines. Unfortunately, this isn’t showcased in Balloon Fight. Nintendo also does well when it comes to showing that effort, polish and care go into each and every one of their games. Balloon Fight is a great example of this. Nintendo saw a good thing in Joust and knew it could become something even greater. Under Nintendo’s wing, Joust evolved into the cult classic Balloon Fight. It’s
simplicity and polish have made it stand out for 8 years now, and that streak is bound to continue due to its recent revival in titles such as Super Smash Bros. Melee (music track) and Animal Crossing (actual game). New fans of Nintendo owe it to themselves to try out these lesser-known NES classics to truly understand what makes our favorite developer something truly special.

If you like old-school classic gaming, then you should definitely check this out. It is a great game, especially with two people. Of course, it may be a bit hard to find, but you could also get it in Animal Crossing!

Final Score: 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/21/03

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