“… the idea of using balloons as an appropriately delicate signal for hit points was a stroke of brilliance, later used in the Mario Kart series to great effect.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.
Balloon Fight is one of those under-the-radar classics; if you were to ask retro gamers to make a list of their top 10 (or even maybe 25, 50) NES video games, Balloon Fight would probably not make the cut. Yet, if you say “Balloon Fight” within a circle of NES fans, everyone will emit a collective “ohhh yeah!” of fond remembrance and immediately cite it as one of their quirky little favorites. Kinda like Base Wars or Guerilla War — Not really considered one of the all-time greats, but whoever played it seems to really like it or at least put a lot of gameplay session hours into it, y’know? Or perhaps games with “War” or “Fight” in the title have a psychological effect of naturally tapping into our subconscious thrill of competition.
This game is nearly irresistible. You would have to be really darn cynical to dislike this game. Maybe that is a bold statement, but I stand by it. This is the type of game my mother would like. … Interpret that as you wish.
Fun Fact: Balloon Fight is a relatively simple old-school arcade-style 8-bit retro video game, yet the instruction manual includes two “MEMO” pages. Why? To bring the booklet to a total of 16 pages. What does the page count have to do with blank “MEMO” insertions? Because many printers, back in the day, increased the price of a job if the end product was not exactly divisible by 8, since it resulted in wasted stock, having to do with the size of the paper when cut. I do not fully understand it myself, but this is totally a thing, and now you finally understand why some NES games had a few “NOTES” pages despite truly not needing them (unlike, say, Metroid or Kid Icarus for passwords and stuff).
Another Fun Fact: This video game was developed by R&D1 (Research & Development 1), the same team that put together many of the greatest first-party company games on the NES ever, such as the aforementioned Metroid and Kid Icarus.
Balloon Fight is neat-o, and a handy answer for useless trivia questions involving the use of ball lightning in video games.
Random Thought: Okay, not entirely random, but one interesting quirk of the two-player mode is that it makes the bonus stages much, much more difficult, in terms of trying to collect all 20 balloons, since each players racks up their own tally.
Read The Full Review For: Honestly? Among my better review writing, both in appropriately balanced (neither too bloated nor too skeletal) coverage and decent wordplay at work. I had fun with this one, and the flow felt good. Also: The interesting correlation between Balloon Fight and a certain mega-popular Mario series of titles.
NES Gameplay Tips for Balloon Fight: Stay high. … In the literal sense, I mean. Oh, and remember, if you are down to one balloon, you regain the other if you can reach a bonus stage. Good luck. Maybe practice on Joust.