The player controls either of the Balloon Fighters, and clears phases by defeating all of the Balloon Birds. By rapidly pressing either of the buttons and steering with the joystick, the player can fly in order to pop the enemies' Balloons with their feet. Both the players and the enemies need to avoid the Balloon Fish, which will eat anything that flies too close to the water at the bottom of the stage.
This game's main gimmick was that it used two screens, one for each player. Either two players can play separate games on the same system or play together, with each player having their own free-moving view of the stage. To take advantage of this, the stages scroll vertically to cover approximately twice the height of the screen.
On the original cabinets this game runs on, each player is given two sets of controls, each with a joystick and two buttons. These are all interchangeable, as both joysticks and all four buttons function identically, allowing the player to decide whichever position is more comfortable.
- Button- Flap Arms (Fly)
- Joystick- Steer or Run Horizontally, Scroll Camera Vertically
- You can also walk on the ground.
While this game shares sprites and music with the NES version, there are a number of key differences between the two.
- Both games were programmed completely separately. Because of this, the physics and Balloon Bird behavior do not entirely match. In general, the physics feel heavier and Balloon Birds are more aggressive.
- There is no auto-flap button, both buttons are used for single arm flaps.
- The arcade title uses a stylized logo, where the NES version uses a tile-based font, likely to save space on the cartridge.
- There are 30 unique phases in the arcade version with 15 which repeat, but in the NES version, there are only 12 phases, 9 of which repeat.
- There are five different palettes that are used in the game, including green, orange, turquoise, blue, and yellow. The NES version only has four (green, red, blue-green, and blue).
- Vs. Balloon Fight also has six phases per color, three for before the stages repeat and three which are repeated. The NES version only has three per color, and the green phases are completely unseen after the phase layouts begin repeating.
- Phases are taller in Vs. Balloon Fight, which was impossible in the NES version due to both players sharing the same screen.
- Because of this, the up and down directional inputs are used for camera control.
- Arrows, large clouds, and the "end" ticket on the last Balloon of a Bonus Stage do not appear in the NES version, although sprites for the latter two exist in the game's data.
- The effect for free-floating Balloons popping is twice as large in Vs. Balloon Fight.
- Balloon Birds will turn their heads to look around before they begin re-inflating their Balloon. The Balloon they are inflating will also match the color which they will become, rather than match their current color.
- The Fish is noticeably more aggressive in the arcade version, as it targets on to characters while below the water, as opposed to swimming back and forth while not seen.
- Touching the water at all will force the player to completely fall in and lose a life in Vs. Balloon Fight. In the NES game, the point at which the player loses a life in the water is below the screen.
- The maximum number of lives in the NES version is 2, while Vs. Balloon Fight allows for up to 7 extra lives depending on the arcade owner's settings. However, the NES version is capable of giving more than two lives through the use of external cheating devices or hacking.
- Balloon Trip mode is exclusive to the NES version.
- Vs. Balloon Fight includes a song for the name entry screen which does not appear in the NES version in any form. The NES version also does not have a visible high score list outside of the invisible Balloon Trip ranking.
- The Game Over jingle is trimmed to just the second half in the NES version.
- When you get hit by a Spark, Vs. Balloon Fight shows your Balloon popping, where the NES version does not.
- Bonus Stages have a variety of different layouts in Vs. Balloon Fight, where every Bonus Stage in the NES version uses the same layout.
The point system from this game is the same one used in the NES version of Balloon Fight and most of its ports.
|Balloon Bird- Pink||500|
|Balloon Bird- Pink Parachute||1000|
|Balloon Bird- Pink Downed||750|
|Balloon Bird- Green||750|
|Balloon Bird- Green Parachute||1500|
|Balloon Bird- Green Downed||1000|
|Balloon Bird- Yellow||1000|
|Balloon Bird- Yellow Parachute||2000|
|Balloon Bird- Yellow Downed||1500|
|Player 1 or 2's Balloons||1000|
Up until the re-release on the Nintendo Switch, this game was only available to play on an actual cabinet or through unofficial emulation. Due to the nature of the Vs. Dualsystem, the family of hardware this game was designed for, the game was distributed as a kit including twelve ROM chips, a PPU, the art for the cabinet, and a set of instructions on how to install it. This game can either be played on an upright cabinet or the smaller cocktail style cabinet, which has been referred to by the community as the "red tent."
For the red tent, Nintendo provided a small instruction card to put on the system, which provided a basic explanation of the game and the controls. As for the upright cabinet, there was a full-size two-piece marquee with the game's name and some art alongside an explanation of the game's controls. While scans exist online of the instruction card, no high-quality scans of the marquee have surfaced, leading to reproductions being made based off of the low-resolution pictures which appear online. However, this reproduction only replicates the left half of the marquee, and is likely not accurate to the original due to the extremely low quality of the source image.
- Main article: Arcade Archives VS. BALLOON FIGHT
On December 27th, 2019, HAMSTER re-released Vs. Balloon Fight on the Nintendo Switch as part of their Arcade Archives series. This version is available digitally on the Nintendo eShop for $7.99. It also features some quality-of-life improvements through its emulation, such as the option for rapid-fire on the flight buttons. The re-release also features online leaderboards for the regular mode, a high-score mode, and a caravan mode which limits the player to five minutes.
- Tingle's Balloon Fight DS re-implements the ability to set how many lives you start with, with the maximum being five extra lives (Six including the starting life), just like this game. However, Tingle's Balloon Fight has a *x4 or *x5 when the extra life count is at 4 or 5, whereas it shows 4 or 5 Balloons as your life count in Vs. Balloon Fight.
- If the player reaches 1,000,000 points, the score counter will reset to zero, and the high score will remain at whatever the highest value was before the reset.
- Although the phase counter appears to only have two digits normally, the counter will have a third digit if the player reaches phase 100 or more.
- If the player clears phase 256, the counter will reset to 1, although the phase layout will continue the pattern within the 16-30 loop and will not return to the actual Phase 1. This rollover is due to how the game stores the level count in memory as a single byte value, which can only hold values between 0-255, but the visible count adds one.
- Although this game was developed completely separate from the NES version, the graphics were copied over from the arcade game to the NES game. Because of this, several graphics go unused in the NES version despite being present, such as the "end" tickets in the Bonus Stages and the blue ceiling tiles.
- The graphics seem to have been copied from an earlier state of development, as the copied graphics for the large white clouds are not the same as the final version.
- If you stay on one stage for too long, an Arrow will fly from the side of the stage and pop your Balloons.
- If the player has fallen into the water or is caught by the Balloon Fish, they might avoid losing a life if the last enemy also falls into the water before the player reappears. However, this will not work if the player has no more lives remaining, as all other gameplay will freeze as soon as the player has no Balloons.
- You can have up to seven lives (Including the current/starting life) if the dip switches inside the cabinet define that you can earn back one life at a certain point mark.
- Oddly, one Japanese flyer shows three screenshots, each showing elements that are not in the final game, such as a frame of a Spark that is red, a large platform in the middle of the water, Balloon Birds facing the screen when parachuting, and a large, blue, missile-like object. It is unknown what this could have been for.
- This flyer has a date of October 3rd, 1984 on it.
- Similar screenshots appeared on a flyer for the U.S. version, though the same flyer also shows some final screenshots as well.
- Each side is assigned a player number, which means that playing on the Player 1 side will always let you play as the red-ballooned Balloon Fighter, and the Player 2 side will always play as the blue-ballooned Balloon Fighter, even when playing alone. This also affects the side the player spawns on.
- There are a handful of unused graphics left over in the game's data:
- Several alternate types of platforms, including a wider stalactite, a thick platform, and alternate versions of standard platforms but with the grass on the bottom.
- With the logo's graphics, there are two tiles remaining of what appears to be an early version of the "VS." graphic. It appears it would have been like the final version, but with an outline.
- Near the ceiling tile, there are three duplicates of a tile with an unknown purpose.
- Several extra symbols in the font go unused.
|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)|