Balloon Kid

released on Oct 05, 1990

Take to the skies with Balloon Kid. You'll have to think light as you float across the most unfriendly skies around. Nasty flying creatures will test your piloting skills, but don't go too low because even nastier enemies await you on the ground. Get extra bonuses by gathering all the balloons you can for a series of challenging tests of skill. Take a big gulp of courage and give Alice a hand as she searches for her missing brother. Play alone or use your Video Link cable to race against a friend. Either way, Balloon Kid will give you a lift.

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Hey, y'all remember Balloon Fight, right? That one early NES game that involves flying around on balloons and popping other peoples' balloons that Nintendo will CONSTANTLY remind you that it existed at one point? Well, did you know that that game apparently got a sequel at one point? Yeah, me neither, but it exists, and it is a little known game for the Game Boy known as Balloon Kid.
As a sequel to the alright, yet not too substantial Balloon Fight, I think this game is actually a pretty good improvement, not just because it is an actual full game this time around. Of course, some of the problems I had with Balloon Fight are still present here, but I would still recommend for those who were a fan of the original game.
The story is very simple and understandable, the graphics are Game Boy graphics, but the sprites are more detailed, so it looks better than the original, the music is actually pretty good, even if some of it is just reused from Balloon Fight, and that there isn't too many tracks, the control is about the same as Balloon Fight, except this time it handles better (not by too much), and there is more there to mess around with, and the gameplay stays true to the original, while also updating it to where I would consider it better than the original.
The main gameplay is pretty similar to that of Balloon Trip from the original, where you move from right to left, collecting balloons and avoiding obstacles, taking on bonus stages for extra lives, getting powerups if lucky, taking on bosses, and even detaching yourself from your balloons in several instances, needing to then blow up a new pair to fly with.
Yeah, it isn't too different from the original game, or even too different from other platformers at the time, but I found myself really liking this game, not just because it is a proper game, but also because of how it executes its ideas, coupled with the various different locations you go to and the music. Not to mention, there are two other separate modes in the game you can check out, such as a 2-player battle mode, which I didn't play because I have no friends, and the Balloon Trip mode from the first game.
With all that said, this is still a Balloon Fight game, and I still have a problem with your momentum in the game. Yes, this is an improvement over the original, but it is still pretty heavy, and it will often lead to a good number of accidental deaths. This is also paired with how whenever you don't have any balloons, for some reason, you move like fucking Sonic, and you can run yourself off platforms pretty easily. Also, the game doesn't tell you how to inflate more balloons, so that also took some time to figure out.
In addition, the bosses are also not the best. They are pretty simple, just bounce on their heads and they die, but in order to actually do damage, you have to hit them while detached from your balloons, and when paired with the terrain you often fight them in, it can be quite annoying at times. Nothing impossible, but it can become a bother.
Overall, while it is nothing too spectacular, it's a fun sequel to Balloon Fight, and my personal favorite of the two, even if it still has the movement issue that I wish wasn't there.
Quick fun fact, for some reason, in Japan, this game was released on the Famicom as a Hello Kitty game. Because when I think of Balloon Fight, I obviously think of... Hello Kitty, seriously, why though?
Game #109

This is the most biased rating I've ever given.
When I was three my parents decided it would be a good idea to buy a GameBoy for me for Christmas in a bundle pack with two games, Tetris Attack and, my first video game ever, Super Mario Land. I'm pretty sure they got it in a bundle pack or something, but the only image of a silver GameBoy Pocket with either of those games I could find was this one, which only had Super Mario Land in it, so I'm pretty sure my parents bought Tetris Attack separately, knowing basically nothing about video games and noticing that it said "Nintendo" on it and that the box art was colorful. A few month later, they noticed that I wouldn't shut up about Catrap, a game I had been playing at my babysitter Judy's house, the same babysitter who introduced me to the GameBoy in the first place, albeit on the original big clunker brick GameBoy instead of the Pocket I would eventually get. I was really into the cartridge art of the 3D digital-looking environment with the anime-esque art of the characters being something I had not been exposed to yet, and the game itself being a puzzle game but also a side-scroller where you climb ladders and pushed blocks was all a three-year-old me needed to think it was cool. One day after coming home from Judy's I was gifted with, you guessed it, Catrap. Catrap is fine.
My point is that my parents made a gigantic mistake and I love them for it.
Balloon Kid fills me with the same kind of feeling that I get when thinking about why I love some other GameBoy games, despite the clear age on the games and hardware itself. It's a clunky experience with a poor framerate, consisting of auto-scroll levels where you have to dodge obstacles to eventually get to a boss at the end, containing a few catchy tunes that play on the Balloon Fight leitmotif a la pretty much every Mario game released after Super Mario World. The game itself isn't gonna blow anyone's mind or anything, but it's impossible for me not to love something that represents such a specific part of video games so close and dear to my heart.
As it turns out, all I need in a video game is simple enough gameplay with good music from the GameBoy sound chip.
Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad. I love you.

Great short fun, big difficulty spike at Level 7. Pro tip: spam down to get your balloons back.

Seventh GOTW finished for 2023. Was surprised how much I liked this game. The music was great, the level design was great (except that last one), and the quick decision-making between letting go of your balloons and pumping up new ones was tensely fun. Had a blast with this one!