This has been a hectic and full week. When I am faced with excessive stress I rarely find myself reaching for the more involved and attention needing games in my collection. Stressful times call for the comforting and simple games that require repetition to work towards mastery. Arcade style games are a favorite of mine, and the 1986 game Balloon Fight has been one of my faves since I first got it on my 3DS a few years ago.
The gameplay is simple – mashing the A button prevents the fighter from falling to his death. Staying above enemies is the only way to attack and every surface is bouncy. I don’t think it possible to describe Balloon Fight without making reference to the arcade classic Joust. If you have played one you have effectively played both. Each game subscribes to its aesthetic. Joust exists in a strange world where warriors ride ostriches and buzzards, fighting to death in the arena. Balloon Fight exists in a world where balloons can actually lift small humans and are considered to be battle ready technology. Color schemes vary greatly, and it seems fair to say that Joust is the “darker” of the two.
Where Balloon Fight really separates itself from Joust is the inclusion of the Balloon Trip mode. Instead of just taking on enemies, Ballon Trip lets you test your longevity while avoiding obstacles and popping balloons for points. I actually prefer this mode for the sake of repetitive game relaxation.
In a less gameplay related feature, Balloon Fight also separates itself with a great score. It really only has the one main song, but I absolutely love it and will blast the tune as much as a 2DS will let me. Have a listen here.
Balloon Fight is not a very big or deep game. It didn’t really revolutionize anything, but it is fun and should be recognized for its fun and simple play and its cute aesthetic. For those of you who may be interested in the NES Classic coming out soon, you’ll be able to play lots of Balloon Fight in between all the Zelda, Mario, and Mega Man.