Codex Gamicus

Balloon Fight (バルーンファイト Barūn Faito?) is a 1985 video game developed by Nintendo. The arcade version (Nintendo VS. system) was released in 1984 and the Nintendo Entertainment System version was released in 1985. The gameplay is similar to the arcade game Joust by Williams Electronics.


The player controls the unnamed Balloon Fighter with two balloons attached to his back. Repeatedly pressing the A or B buttons causes the Balloon Fighter to flap his arms and rise into the air. If one of your balloons is popped, your flotation is decreased, making it harder to rise. You lose a life if both of your balloons are popped by enemy Balloon Fighters, if you fall in the water, get eaten by the large fish near the surface of the water, or if you get hit by lightning.

There are two modes of play: the 1-player/2-player game where the goal is to clear the screen of enemies, and Balloon Trip where the goal is to avoid obstacles in a side-scrolling stage. Balloon Trip is not available in the arcade version.

1-player/2-player game[]

Defeat all of the enemies on screen to clear the stage. You can play alone, or co-operatively with a second player. Each player starts with three extra lives, and once these are lost, the game ends.

Enemy Balloon Fighters float around on the screen. Hit their balloons to pop them. The enemy will try to float back to safe ground on a parachute, inflate a new balloon and fly away again. Hit the enemy a second time before they inflate a new balloon to defeat them. The enemy can also fall into the water or be eaten by the fish while flying close to the water's surface, although you do not get points for defeating enemies in this way. If an enemy is defeated or falls into the water, a bubble will rise up the screen which can be hit for extra points.

As you progress through the stages, the number of enemies and platforms increases. A spinning obstacle called the Flipper (Propellor in the game's North American instruction manual) appears on later stages.

Every three stages is a bonus stage, where the goal is to burst all of the balloons that float up the screen from the chimneys at the bottom. Hit all twenty balloons for an extra bonus score. If you only have one balloon when you reach the bonus stage, your second balloon will be replenished.

Balloon Trip[]

A single-player game where the goal is to avoid the lightning sparks and collect the balloons, aiming to move up the ranks and compete for the high score. The screen scrolls from right to left, and you only have one life.

Aside from the starting platform, there is no ground in this mode. You can find both stationary and moving lightning sparks. If you collect twenty balloons without missing one, you will get bonus points for every balloon you collect thereafter. Hit bubbles to temporarily stop the stage from scrolling.

This was not originally in the arcade version.

Ports, sequels, and references[]

The game was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Japan-only NEC PC-8801, the Sharp Zaurus, the Game Boy Advance as Balloon Fight-e for the e-Reader and part of the Famicom Mini Series in Japan. It can also be played in Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube.

Nintendo also released a Game & Watch version of the same name, it is based on the NES version's Balloon Trip mode. The protagonist of it is a Balloon Fighter, "Balloon Man" (according to the manual). Unlike Balloon Fighters, Balloon Man uses a rocket suit instead of flapping his hands to elevate while holding balloons.

A sequel to Balloon Fight called Balloon Kid was released on October 1990 in North America and on January 31, 1991 in Europe for the Game Boy, which expands from the game's roots and revamped it into a full platforming adventure. This title was not released in Japan on the Game Boy, but colorized versions titled as Hello Kitty World (developed by Character Soft) for the Famicom and Balloon Fight GB for the Game Boy Color were only released in Japan.

Caltron Ind Inc. released a 6-in-1 multi-cart featuring a conspicuous game titled Adam and Eve with game play suspiciously similar to Balloon Fight, essentially a generic version of Balloon Fight.

Balloon Fighter and Flipper trophies are obtainable in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and the Flipper is also a usable item, replacing the Bumper from the previous game. The Balloon Fighter was considered for a playable role during the development of Super Smash Bros. Melee, but the Ice Climbers were chosen instead. The original background music for the Balloon Trip in Balloon Fight can be heard in Melee's Icicle Mountain stage as alternate music. The giant fish makes a cameo appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It appears on the Ice Climber-based stage, the Summit, in which it tries to attack the players from the sea. In addition, a remixed version of the main theme, titled "Balloon Trip" is available for the Summit stage as well. Stickers of the Balloon Fighter and the Balloon Fight Enemy can be collected in Brawl.

In the WarioWare, Inc. series, some of 9-Volt's games are based on Balloon Fight. In WarioWare: Smooth Moves, there is also a minigame functioning as a three-dimensional version of Balloon Trip; player use the Wiimote only for the microgame version, and also use Nunchuk in the complete 3D Balloon Trip.

The original tech demo for Yoshi Touch & Go was called Yoshi's Balloon Trip. Balloon Fight is the theme for Touch Mode in Tetris DS, although the mode itself has almost nothing to do with the game other than the music and decorative graphics.

Tingle's Balloon Fight DS, Club Nintendo's exclusive game featuring the Zelda character Tingle was released in April 2007.

On June 8, 2007, Balloon Fight was released in Europe on the Wii Virtual Console available for 500 Wii Points. It was later released in North America on July 16, 2007, and Japan on November 12, 2007.

The Piranha Plant boss in Mario Party DS used the same gameplay principal as Balloon Fight except that Mario drops bomb seeds instead of popping enemies balloons and then kicking them.

In the Manga series Hellsing By Kouta Hirano, almost every chapter title is a video game reference. Chapter 44 (Vol 6 Ch 7 in the Graphic Novel) was titled "Balloon Fight".

List of Balloon Fight games, ports and sequels[]

Name Released in Japan Released in USA Released in Europe Genre Released to
Vs. Balloon Fight 1984 1984 Action Arcade
Balloon Fight January 22, 1985 June 1986 December 15, 1986 Action NES/Famicom
Balloon Fight 1985 Action PC-88
Balloon Fight (Playchoice-10) 1985 Action Arcade
Balloon Fight 1986 1986 Action G&W
Balloon Kid October, 1990 January 31, 1991 Action/platformer GB
Balloon Fight GB July 31, 2000 Action/platformer GBC/NP
Balloon Fight October 19, 2001 Action Sharp Zaurus
Famicom Mini Balloon Fight May 21, 2004 Action GBA
Tingle's Balloon Fight April 2007 Action DS
Balloon Fight November, 2007 July 16, 2007 June 8, 2007 Action Virtual Console



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