Balloon Kid
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Pax Softnica
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • US 10/05/1990
    • UK 01/31/1991
Score: 70%

This review was published on 02/14/2015.

Balloon Kid is a platform video game developed by Pax Softnica and published by Nintendo for the original Game Boy. It was released in North America on October 5, 1990, and Europe on January 31, 1991. The game was later ported to the Famicom in Japan by Character Soft as a licensed Hello Kitty game called Hello Kitty World on March 27, 1992. Later still, the game was released for the Game Boy Color in Japan as Balloon Fight GB on July 31, 2000. Balloon Kid is the sequel to Balloon Fight, which was a game released for the arcades and Nintendo Entertainment System in the mid-to-late 1980s. Considering this is the sequel to Balloon Fight, this game certainly had a strange history. It's also not as well known as its predecessor. In any case, Balloon Kid takes the basics introduced in Balloon Fight and expands upon them considerably, upping the play value by a good deal.

Image

In a rural part of the fictional city of Pencilvania, a city composed of pencil shaped buildings, there was a small house where two children lived. The children were a sister and brother named Alice and Jim, respectively. These two kids were obsessed with balloons and loved playing with them. They spent their days filling the skies with tons of balloons. One day, Jim tied a bunch of differently colored balloons into the shape of a rainbow and let them fly away. Alice complimented Jim on his colorful accomplishment, but told him to be careful. Suddenly, a violent gust of wind blew Jim away, taking his balloons with him. Jim left a trail of his balloons for Alice to follow, in hopes that his sister would come to rescue him. It's now up to Alice, the protagonist of Balloon Kid, to locate and save her brother. It's a simple story for a simple game made in a simple time.

Image

Being that Alice is the Balloon Kid alluded to in the game's title, she uses balloons to float around. More specifically, she uses two balloons. She can fly with her balloons by repeatedly waving her hands, which is done by tapping or holding the A button. This is more or less the same as what the protagonist of Balloon Fight was capable of, but there are some new things Alice can do in this game that weren't possible in the previous one. For one, she can voluntarily release her balloons to fall back onto the ground, where she can run and jump around like a little girl would. Enemies can pop her balloons, too, but she's okay so long as she lands on something safe. When on the ground, she's able to inflate two new balloons if you tap down on the d-pad vigorously, allowing her to get back into the air. This feature alone makes Balloon Kid an awful lot more forgiving than Balloon Fight, as you're able to reclaim your lost balloons whenever there's safe footing nearby. Some might say this makes the game too easy, but I say it makes the game more fun.

Image

The standard single player mode of Balloon Kid is reminiscent of Balloon Trip from the first game, except way better. Alice must avoid environmental hazards and enemies while contending with an auto-scrolling stage. Unlike most platform games, Alice starts from the right and then moves to the left. Every single stage is of the auto-scroll variety, which is no doubt going to annoy some people. Most of the stages scroll at a leisure pace, though, so it isn't too bad. Still, Alice will be squished to death if she can't keep up with the screen. As for the obstacles and enemies in Alice's path, some will pop her balloons, whereas others will outright kill her. Some foes won't hurt Alice themselves, but can push her into harm's way. There are situations where Alice will need to abandon her balloons, as they will sometimes prevent her from squeezing into small areas. However, having balloons is generally necessary to progress, so she'll need to refill them quickly. Also, there will occasionally be mysterious Game Boys that Alice can enter to play short bonus games to get extra points and extra lives. There are eight stages total, and they're all short, but fun.

Image

At the end of every other stage is a mean boss that will try to hinder Alice. Boss fights in this game are a little peculiar, as they try to incorporate the whole balloon mechanic from the main game. In order to actually injure the bosses, Alice must fly over them and release her balloons to fall onto their heads, stomping them like Mario would. There's no copyright infringement here; this is Nintendo, after all. After that, Alice will need to inflate some new balloons to repeat the process until the boss has been defeated. This process can be made slightly faster if Alice is able to bounce off the boss and grab her balloons before they float away, but that's not always possible. Alice can also simply abandon the balloons altogether to fight some bosses, treating the game like a regular platformer. That won't work for all of the bosses, though. Many of the bosses don't even hurt Alice if they touch her, instead attempting to push her into the water or some other hazard. As a result of these odd mechanics, boss fights in Balloon Kid are kind of awkward. It's still a step up from not having any bosses at all, but they're not too well designed.

Image

In addition to the story mode, there are a few other modes. Balloon Trip is one of them. This mode makes its return from the first game, pretty much exactly intact. It's an endless mode designed to test an individual's endurance. Basically, this mode has Alice flying across a never ending ocean as she pops balloons and dodges balls of lightning in a sorry attempt to get the highest score possible. It's an okay mode to include, though it does get dull rather quickly. This game also has a two player mode. With two Game Boys and a Game Link Cable, you'll be able to have some Balloon Kid multiplayer. Player one controls Alice and player two controls her eternal rival, Samm. The two players will compete in a race to see who can get to the end of the auto-scrolling stage first. Unfortunately, the multiplayer sucks, because there's only one playable stage available, making it extremely repetitive. Those are all the modes this game has to offer. Neither mode is as good as the story mode, but they're just extra stuff, anyway.

Image

Balloon Kid is a simple, short, and fun platform game for those that are looking for a quick play session. This game essentially transforms Balloon Fight into a fully fleshed out platform game. The enhanced mechanics from Balloon Fight make for an interesting platform game, though it isn't going to jive with everyone, especially due to the whole game being auto-scrolling. There are also a couple of things that don't work out too well with these mechanics, like boss fights. Traditional bosses and nontraditional game play don't mix. The multiplayer is a big step down from Balloon Fight, too. None of these issues really hold the game back, though. Balloon Kid is a decent game; nothing more, nothing less.

Word Count: 1,233

Tweet