Friday 19 August 2016

Balloon Fight (Supervision review)

Developer: Thin Chen Enterprise (Sachen)
Publisher: Watara
Released: 1992

Balloon Fight is an action game and a clone of Nintendo's 1984 Arcade title of the same name.

Playing as the Oldie Camel, you must solve the traffic jams by clearing the sky of birds! Attached to a pair of balloons, your only method of attack is to pop opponent's balloons by hitting them from above; however, these birds have the same abilities and being hit twice results in you losing one of your four lives. A or B allows you to ascend, but unlike the Arcade original the button can just be held; this is a great idea that stops fatigue in longer play sessions! While the controls aren't terrible they're not great either; on many occasions I found myself slowly manoeuvring, yet my character would keep floating in the opposite direction to my inputs. The game does rely on momentum (so this is partially expected) but it even happens when you're basically at a standstill. Sometimes the controls feel too heavy forcing you to overcompensate; at other points they're too floaty, meaning you'll suddenly launch into the air as if you've come into contact with an air pocket. Birds are also affected by this, as you can be perfectly lined up only to see them zap around the screen in an instant. At the heart of this are the slightly wonky physics that see you careening off at extremely odd, and somewhat harsh angles, despite nothing even contacting you. The game is still playable and fair though, and it eases you into the action for the first few levels. While the level design is basic, I do like how each one has its own unique layout and obstacles, forcing you to strategise your attacks. There's also some nice music and jingles that perfectly compliment the gameplay. However, unlike the NES port (1986), there's no bonus stages or additional modes like Balloon Trip to increase playtime; therefore, the action get can repetitive quite quickly.
Balloon Fight is a mediocre clone, yet it's frustratingly close to being highly playable. It's main issue is its inconsistent physics, and although you can still progress due to the game's low difficulty it's impossible not to feel cheated that it didn't have a bit more polish prior to release.
Random trivia: Thin Chen Enterprise / Sachen developed a whopping 19 games for the Supervision in 1992.

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