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The Game & Watch game Balloon Fight is the first handheld Balloon Fight game to release, following the release of the NES version of Balloon Fight and preceding Balloon Kid on the Game Boy. Like all other Game & Watch games, it was released as a standalone LCD game system.


Gameplay

The player controls Balloon Man and must collect Balloons while avoiding Sparks as the screen scrolls. Because the Game & Watch has a limited number of segments to display the positions of all characters and objects, everything effectively moves within a grid. The player's range of movement consists of five columns and four rows, making a total of 20 possible positions.

Phases

If the player collects 25 Balloons in a phase, they will move on to the next phase. Between phases, the islands in the water will begin flashing, and the player can choose to go to a Bonus Stage if they land on one and press either the upper or lower "warp" buttons.

Boss Battles

Every eight phases, there will be a boss battle against Oiram Repus, where the player must survive for an amount of time while he throws sparks. If the player can survive, they will be able to put Oiram back in jail, and earn 50 points.

Controls

Artwork from the manual of Balloon Man hovering.

The player can move horizontally at any time using the left and right buttons. Vertical movement is controlled using the "eject" button. Pressing this button once will create a puff of smoke which indicates that the player is hovering. Pressing it again while this smoke is still visible will propel the player upward one space. The smoke the player creates will gradually disappear, and a lack of any smoke indicates that the player is going to begin descending. If the player wants to descend faster, they can press the down button to dive, though falling into the water will cause them to lose 100 points.

The up button is only used for entering a Bonus Stage, although the down button can also be used.

Scoring

A Balloon, as they appear in-game

The game has two running score counts: the player's current score, and the player's total score. Their current score may go up or down as the game goes on, as the player loses 100 points from this count any time they fall into the water. Their total score tracks what the player's score would be if they did not fall in the water at all, and is displayed as their final score when the game ends.

The following actions affect the player's score:

Action Value
Collect a Balloon (<20 Balloon streak) 1
Collect a Balloon (20-39 Balloon streak) 2
Collect a Balloon (40-59 Balloon streak) 3
Collect a Balloon (>60 Balloon streak) 4
Defeat Oiram Repus 50
Fall into the water -100

Plot

Oiram Repus, the main antagonist

According to the game's manual, Balloon Man is a Sky Patrol working for the Federal Police Department of Sky Metropolis. The leader of the Sky Pirates, Oiram Repus, has escaped arrest and is now hiding. Oiram's henchmen ripped up a map which lead to his location, and tied the pieces to Balloons which now float all over Trip-Sky. The game follows Balloon Man's attempt to collect all of these map pieces to track down Oiram Repus.

Alarm

Sparky, the character used to represent the alarm function.

The "Watch" portion of the Game & Watch name is based on each system's ability to be used as a clock when not being played. Balloon Fight, as all other Game & Watch games did, allows the player to set it into "time" mode, where it will play a simple demo and show the current time in place of the score count. Alternatively, the player count use the "alarm" button to set a time when an alarm should go off. While an alarm is set, Sparky will appear in the top right corner. When the alarm goes off, the system will beep and Sparky will pour water out of his watering can.

Availability

The 1986 Crystal Screen version.

The game had two releases, first as a Crystal Screen series Game & Watch in 1986, and later as a New Wide Screen series Game & Watch in 1988. The first version had a transparent screen, but also came with an optional backdrop to put behind the screen. Like all other Crystal Screen series systems, it had a wider design than most standard Game & Watch systems, as well as gray buttons. The later New Wide Screen version reverted to a more standard Game & Watch layout, with a bright green faceplate, bright red buttons, and a white border for the screen and the system's edges.

The 1988 New Wide Screen version.

The game was released alongside two other NES-inspired Game & Watch games, being Super Mario Bros. and Climber. Both of these games also received both Crystal Screen and New Wide Screen versions.

This game has not been rereleased in any playable form since the 1988 New Wide Screen release. Although making an appearance in Game & Watch gallery's museum feature, the game was not playable. However, there is an unofficial recreation of the game which works with MAME, a popular multipurpose emulator.

Gallery

Games
Balloon Fighting Games Vs. Balloon Fight (Arcade) - Balloon Fight (NES)
Remakes PC-8801 - Sharp X1 - Sharp MZ-1500 - Tingle's Balloon Fight DS (DS)
Ports Playchoice-10 - Sharp Zaurus - Balloon Fight-e (GBA) - Famicom Mini: Balloon Fight (GBA) - Wii Virtual Console - Balloon Fight (3DS) - Wii U Virtual Console - Nintendo Switch Online - Arcade Archives VS. BALLOON FIGHT (Switch)
Balloon Trip Games Balloon Fight (Game & Watch) - Balloon Kid (GB) - Balloon Trip Breeze (Wii U)
Remakes Hello Kitty World (Famicom) - Balloon Fight GB (GBC)
Ports Balloon Fight GB (3DS) - Balloon Kid (3DS)
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