As a salutation to the Wii U’s virtual console trial scheme, whereby a different NES or SNES classic (or appalling bum-egg from the depths of Satan’s sweaty crotch, your opinion of each title will differ) will be available from the eShop for meagre monies for a month, a little vintage indulgence is at hand. For your delectation, then, this week’s entry is Balloon Fight. Among the lofty heights of Nintendo’s most acclaimed oddities, how does it fare upon ANOTHER infernal re-release?
As anyone that’s dabbled in the noble art of kicking freakish bird-men right in the face from fifty feet in the air will attest, Balloon Fight boasts one of the most convoluted plots video games have yet seen. Its complexity rivals trying to make sense of the Da Vinci Code with the sound muted and a Romanian soap opera simultaneously. While drunk.
Except I’m being facetious, and there isn’t the slightest semblance of a plot to be had. Back in the cloying sands of time (1986, that is), bizarre little arcade confections such as this didn’t deign to provide any real story. The sentiment was, nuts to that. You’re a hilariously camp midget in a garish costume, floating about the stratosphere via two balloons tied to your undercarriage. Others are doing the same. You must murderize them, lest they murderize you. That’s all you’ll be told, and you’ll be grateful for it!
With these scant knowledge-nuggets in hand, you’ll begin traversing the fleeting levels of Balloon Fight. Our protagonist sets off from a tiny platform on the stage, and must send all of his assailants plummeting into the ocean below to prevail and move on. Contact from above will rupture your opponent’s balloon(s), sending them into a defenseless freefall. Should buttock hit platform, a painstakingly, groin-grabbingly slow ‘reinflating’ animation will ensue, and they’ll have the capacity to re-enter the fray. A swift, righteous smiting from your mighty jackboot of homicidal fury will curtail any such shenanigans and send them into the sea in the process.
Bolstering the package is an additional offering with the moniker ‘balloon trip.’ In this mode, you’ll be bereft of opponents, instead beset by an array of stars/electrical blips of some sort/murderous fireflies that want to kill you in the face (Eighties blur-o-vision makes it rather difficult to discern which they are). On a endless stage, you must endeavour simply to reach the furthest point you can, while collecting balloons and traversing a side-scrolling obstacle course of sorts.
In summation, then, Balloon Fight is an entirely unremarkable, if compulsive, high-score chaser. The title’s newfound Miiverse integration gives players the capacity to compare their record runs, and the garishly-coloured characters and incessantly jovial music are as endearing as they ever were. It’s a rather sparse package, but the (current) budget price renders it an almost obligatory Wii U purchase for anyone inclined towards vintage video-gamery.