Retro: VC Weekly #192

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

If you're a fan of the classic Balloon Fight then you might be interested to learn of its lesser-known GameBoy sequel even though it's barely half as good. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Balloon Kid

Price: GB �2.70, EU �3
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Released: 1993
System: GameBoy

The original Balloon Fight on the NES is considered to be something of a cult classic with its unique gameplay revolving around trying to burst the balloons of your enemies while trying to keep your own ones intact but it also had another mode named 'balloon trip' which saw you trying to float a long distance without getting electrocuted by sparks and it's this mode which would seem to form the basis of Balloon Kid which is the portable sequel to this bizarre title. There's even a basic story, Alice's younger brother floats away on some balloons so Alice attaches balloons to herself and goes off in pursuit of her brother, on her perilous journey she must do battle against bugs, electricity and wolves... enthralling stuff.

Simplicity was the key to the original game but here expanding the experience to accommodate levels which scroll in all directions seems to unnecessarily overcomplicate things as when there are collectables to obtain this can make them all too easy to miss meaning that the experience is somewhat counter-intuitive. In addition to your standard float button you can now blow up more balloons if you happen to lose them while landing on ground � in similar fashion to your enemies in Balloon Fight � you can even burst your balloons at the press of a button though why you'd want to do that is anyone's guess as the controls take a turn for the worse when you're on the ground making it feel like a sub-standard platform title; there are bonus stages which are great and boss battles which are terrible as you have to fight them all on foot but all of this just feels like filler material.

Unfortunately the first half of the game is painfully poor as nothing much really happens, the only thing that'll keep you going is collecting balloons on each level as there really isn't much else to say about the story mode aside from the fact that it's something to do but this is only true in the sense of a chore that you'll want to put off. Thankfully the classic Balloon Trip mode is still available though it suffers from the same scrolling issue as the single player plus inexplicably you can still opt to bust your balloons even though there's nowhere to land; there is of course also a versus mode included but this won't be of much use to you given that no GameBoy games on the VC feature their original multiplayer modes.

Visually the game is fine but often leaves you with a feeling that it's kind of generic especially for a Nintendo game which are usually renown for their visual flair but this feels like a stripped-back version of Kirby at its very best. Again the music isn't offensive but it's not particularly motivating either just sorely lacking which is a disappointment seeing as the original games theme at least had a whimsical charm to it.

There's very little to save this title from being anything more than a sequel that tries to better the original by adding more content yet ends up only being half as compelling to play thanks to changes which make the formula recognisable in name only. If you're a fan of the original game or are just curious about this type of title then you might as well download the original on the Wii VC or if you're an Ambassador then why not enjoy your free copy of the NES original on your 3DS?

Verdict : A sequel with sequins that's nice to see but painful to play.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

© Copyright 2024 - Independent Nintendo Coverage Back to the Top