Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D1
Publisher(s) – Nintendo
Designer – Yoshi Sakamoto
Programmer – Satoru Iwata
Rating – N/A
Designed by Metroid co-creator Yoshi Sakamoto, and programmed by Satoru Iwata, Balloon Fight was an early NES release, which has since been re-released and ported to a plethora of different platforms and imitated by a plethora of different developers, and even presented in a plethora of different varieties and utilized to promote a plethora of different franchises, such as Hello Kitty and even The Legend of Zelda. A simplistic, yet very fun arcade game, it became no wonder to me after playing it how it became such a silently prolific series.
Graphics – 6/10
Even by third-generation console standards, the graphics aren’t anything particularly impressive to look at. Since Balloon Fight is overall a very simplistic game, the visuals are also quite simplistic too. All it consists of is a black background with a few touches of scenery to make up each stage. The best thing about the visuals, however, is the level of animation involved with each of the character’s movements, which went above and beyond anything ever seen in the previous generation of gaming during the Atari years.
Gameplay – 8/10
The objective of the game is to simply clear the stage of each enemy in single-player or to deflate each of the opposing player’s balloons if playing on multiplayer. The game is incredibly enjoyable to play alone, but it’s much more fun to play with another. Personally, I enjoy playing single-player games much more than multiplayer ones, but with this title, it’s very much the other way round. It’s also quite interesting to think of how much of a precursor this game is to the idea of the battle mode in Mario Kart.
Controls – 10/10
Not only are there any issues with the control scheme of this game, since again, it is extremely simplistic, but it’s also a somewhat unique control scheme for the time. Following the advent of Super Mario Bros, there were countless developers making licensed and unlicensed games, which followed the same 2D side-scrolling formula pioneered by the hit game. But Nintendo was extremely careful to not do this themselves, and so made games like Balloon Fight and the Legend of Zelda.
Originality – 7/10
The Atari 2600 had a lot of varied different control schemes for the great number of games that were published onto the system, but Nintendo made a lot of very unique arcade games, such as Punch-Out and Duck Hunt; and Balloon Fight was no exception. Nintendo knew how to bring the fun factor to a video game, multiplayer or not, which is something that gave them their edge throughout the third generation; and this game is a very prominent example of that.
Personally, I was thrown by how good a game I found Balloon Fight to be. It has been imitated countless times, and I would advocate for any gamer to try at least one version of it.