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31 Bonus Levels of Christmas
Balloon Fight: Balloon Joust
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 04, 2010   |   Episode 10 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 31 of the best-known bonus stages in all of video games. Each day we're going to look at a different level and review it, while also trying to figure out what makes it tick. Join us as we post a new episode of the 31 Bonus Levels of Christmas every day leading up to the biggest holiday of the year!
Balloon Fight: Balloon Joust
[ Console: NES | Year: 1986 | Grade: B- ]

Balloon Fight is easily one of the best two-player games on the NES!
The Context: Balloon Fight is a very early Nintendo Entertainment System game that is similar to Midway's classic arcade game, Joust. You control a guy who has strapped balloons to himself in order to be able to fly. In the standard mode your ballooned character avoids obstacles, battles enemies and collects balloons to increase the score. It's a simple game, not unlike most of the NES launch line-up. Get ready to hang on, because Balloon Fight is about to offer the ride of your life.

The Rules: In this bonus stage, players are asked to collect as many balloons as possible before time runs out. That's all well and good, but that's not the reason why this bonus stage is so much fun. When played with a second player, these bonus levels turn

I have never been a big fan of Balloon Fight, but I can't resist the competitive bonus levels!
into an all-out Battle Royale! Each player tries to knock the player into the water below, because in this mode there is no consequence for dying. Suddenly a dull point grab turns into the fighting game we always wanted on the NES.

The Verdict: By itself, Balloon Fight's bonus stage is a boring mess. However, the two-player arena combat is worth the price of admission. I've never been a big fan of Balloon Fight, but this stage may be enough to change my mind. It's a shame Nintendo didn't spin this bonus level out into its own mode; I can imagine myself as a child wasting a lot of time going head-to-head with

Sorry Joust, I'm not so fond of you either.
friends. Unfortunately this is not the intended use of the stage, so I have to knock a few points off of the score.

Completely Missing the Point: I think Richard Heene made a huge mistake. Flashback to old days of 2009, when reality TV dominated the airwaves and a new president had just taken office. It was a simpler time, one with movies full of people flying away from their troubles with the use of balloons. But this wasn't just a Pixar movie, it was real life. At least, that's what the news media thought when they reported on Richard Heene's son, a boy who would affectionately be known as "Balloon Boy." Mr. Heene was rightfully chastised for this prank, eventually serving jail time. The problem is that he went about it the wrong way. Instead of pretend hiding the kid in something that looks like an alien UFO, I say he should have pretend dangled him from a pair of balloons. If Balloon Fight has taught me anything, it's that people don't have a problem with people hanging for dear life from two small balloons. Who knew?
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