Balloon Fight (バルーンファイト Barūnfaito) is an "Action Series" game for the NES and Famicom systems. It was published in North America in 1985. It is referenced in many Nintendo games today.
You play the role of the Balloon Fighter, an unnamed character wearing two red balloons and red overalls along with a blue helmet. The second player has the same clothing but reversed colors. Your goal is to defeat the enemies to progress through phases and raise your score as high as possible. You must also avoid the Balloon Fish, which is in every level in the water at the bottom of the screen, and occasionally Sparks, which will come out of Clouds if you stay on a level for too long. The time before the Sparks appear gets shorter after every phase, and the speed of the Sparks increases after every lightning bolt that is launched in that phase. There is also a Balloon Trip mode (Game C), where the player must stay afloat as long possible, while avoiding Sparks and collecting Balloons.
There are 12 phases in total. After every 3 phases there will be a Bonus Round. These simply allow players to collect Balloons for points. If you collect all 20 balloons, you will earn a "Super Bonus". Every bonus round adds 5,000 points to the previous bonus until it hits 30,000. It starts as 10,000 and then can become a major part of your score after many rounds.
Due to the NES hardware, Phase 100 is shown as "Phase A0", and Phase P5 is the last phase before the counter resets. However, even after the counter resets, the levels do not have the layouts they had the first time through, instead it follows the pattern levels usually follow for their layout. As such, Phases 1-3 are unique and their layouts are never repeated. Phase 00 comes after Phase P5.
The main way to score in Games A and B is to pop the balloons of the enemy Balloon Birds. You can also get points from the Balloons that float upward in the Bonus Stage, as well as even popping the other player's balloons in Game B. As mentioned above, clearing all balloons in a bonus stage will give you a "Super Bonus", with increasing value every time you enter the Bonus Stage until 30,000 points. Depending on the level of the Balloon Bird and whether it is in the air, parachuting, or on the ground, the point value varies. Higher level Balloon Birds give more points, giving the most points while flying and giving the least points when defeated while on the ground. Due to this, you can "farm" points by popping their balloons, waiting for them to re-inflate their balloons and then popping the balloons again. If a Balloon Bird gets eaten by the Balloon Fish, the player does not get any extra points.
The NES version of Balloon Fight was released after Vs. Balloon Fight, the arcade version. It has been ported to numerous other systems. It was released for Virtual Console on the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. On the Game Boy Advance, it was released as Balloon Fight-e, a set of 10 e-Reader cards as part of the Classic NES card series. There was also a Japan-only cartridge version for the Game Boy Advance known as Famicom Mini: Balloon Fight. The Gamecube game Animal Crossing contains a full playable version of Balloon Fight for the NES. In 2001, the game was even ported to the Sharp Zaurus PDA. In some ways, Tingle's Balloon Fight is a port of the original, with graphics just updated and made more to fit the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker's art style. Ports of the NES game were also made for the Sharp X1 and PC-88 the same year it came out in Japan, which were made by Hudson Soft with permission by Nintendo. The game also received a port onto the Playchoice-10 in 1985, a year before its release in North America. The game is built-in to the NES Classic Edition, along with 29 other mostly iconic NES games. There are also a number of unlicensed clones, ports and Hacks. In September 2018, Balloon Fight will be one of the 20 NES games to be released with online multiplayer for the launch of the Nintendo Switch Online Service.
As of February 2019, the following known ports of Balloon Fight are unavailable to the general public due to services shutting down:
- Sharp Zaurus
- The service through which the game was originally downloadable is now defunct. No known backups exist online.
- Wii Virtual Console
- With the Wii Shop Channel's closure, there is no official way to purchase this version. However, it is still possible to re-download the game if it was bought before the shut down, though this service may not last indefinitely either. It is currently unknown if the game has been backed up online.
It seems likely that the 3DS, Wii U, and Switch Online ports of Balloon Fight will also be lost at some point due to being download-exclusive. There is currently no official word on when these services will shut down, but it seems probable that the next to vanish would be the 3DS or Wii U ports, given that the Switch Online Service is relatively new.
- See also Balloon Fight (NES)/3DS glitches
Vertical Speed Conservation
In all direct-port versions of the game, the player's vertical speed is not reset after the player dies. Usually, most deaths involve having a downward velocity, although if the player is moving upward while being eaten by the fish, the player will "jump" into the air upon respawning, even keeping the standing pose while in the air.
Player 2 Disadvantage
It is possible to start a two player game where player two starts the game with only one Balloon. The following steps seem to trigger it:
- Play Balloon Trip until a Bubble appears
- Pop the Bubble and then hit a Spark.
- Start the two player game.
This glitch may be due to a shared memory location between something relating to death or the Bubble timer and player two's Balloon count.
- There are some leftovers from Vs. Balloon Fight that weren't implemented in-game, such as the "End" ticket and the ceiling barrier tiles.
- Two versions of the cartridge exist: a "3-Screw" version and a "5-Screw" version. In fact, most NES games have a "3-Screw" and a "5-Screw" version, usually having a rarer version. In Balloon Fight's case, the the 3-Screw variant is the rarer one, as it was produced later, likely when everyone who wanted the game had it. Also, the 3-Screw variant had the updated white oval Nintendo Seal of Quality, which is still used to this day. The 5-Screw version uses the older round black Nintendo Seal of Quality. Of course, there are also different labels for different regions such as the European version, the Hong-Kong version, the Mattel-Italy version, and the Famicom version.
- This is the last Balloon Fight game to have the blue Balloon Fighter. The last appearance of the blue Balloon Fighter was Ultimate NES Remix, where he appears in various places, but is in no way playable, since the game is only in single-player challenges.
- The in-game copyright states it was copyrighted in 1984, although it was released in 1986. The copyright shows 1984 because that was the year Vs. Balloon Fight was released, and there likely wasn't space (or really a need) to have it say "1984-1986". After all, Balloon Fight was intended to be a port of Vs. Balloon Fight to the NES.
- This game is included in the set of games in NES Remix and Ultimate NES Remix.
- In Nintendo Badge Arcade, a free application for the 3DS which allows players to decorate their home menus with badges won in a crane game, there is a series of pixel art badges. One of these badges is of the Famicom cartridge of Balloon Fight.
- According to an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, the flying mechanics in this game were reused in Super Mario Bros. for when the player character is swimming.