If you were lucky enough to own a NES and had good taste in games then you have probably played Balloon Fight at some point. It was ported to a few other systems, and there were a couple of updates through the years, but sadly this title has been largely ignored in the gaming community. While it’s not anything officially tied to one of my favorite 8-bit games, there’s no question that Balloon Loons draws its inspiration from the aforementioned video game. With its colorful visuals, cute adversaries and plenty of levels to explore, Balloon Loons is certain to satisfy that craving for balloon popping that all former NES owners have.
Cute but annoying bunnies have stolen your master’s coins, and it’s up to you to get them all back. The main objective is to retrieve every coin on each level, at which point a portal will open up for you to proceed to the next area. However, the bunnies aren’t going to take this lying down, and they will do whatever they can to stop you from getting back all the loot. What makes this so interesting is that all of you are floating around on balloons! You have a certain number of balloons, and each time a bunny hits one it will pop. When they are all gone you fall down and lose a life. When all your lives are gone you have to start whatever level you’re on over again. Plus your overall score goes back to zero.
Thankfully there are several things you can do to protect yourself. Take the offensive and pop the bunnies’ balloons, in which case they will go away and not bother you until the next level. Some bunnies are just running around, so a simple bop on the head will take care of them. Various power ups will float around every now and again, giving you things like temporary invulnerability, extra balloons and my favorite so far – temporary invulnerability plus the ability to move through walls. Simply run into these power ups to activate them. You do have to watch out for various other obstacles like items that bunnies throw, environmental effects (on the snow levels gusts of wind can actually blow you around) and the fact that both you and the enemies can pass through to the other side of the screen when moving left or right.
The game has three different control schemes (oddly enough one of them not being tilt control), and they all work reasonably well. Finger mode gives you the most direct control, as the pup follows your every whim. Joystick is a bit nicer as your hand doesn’t block your view much, but doesn’t seem quite as precise as Finger. The buttons method is potentially the most accurate of all of them, but doesn’t seem quite as natural to me. You get an overall score for each level and you can earn up to three stars, one each for time (under 1 minute), getting all the bunnies and collecting all the coins. Since you have to get every coin to finish the level, you’re guaranteed at least one star. Game Center provides 20 achievements to work towards as well as leaderboards, though top scores don’t really concern me in this type of game.
The graphics are cute. The creatures are well animated and the backgrounds are nicely detailed, though aside from a few weather effects the backgrounds are pretty static. I like the fact that when the dog is close enough to the ground he actually runs on four legs instead of floating on the balloons. The sound effects work well for the most part, but the voices of the BunBuns teeters between cute and annoying, much like a certain band of famous chipmunks. There’s actually some pretty decent music here as well, with several tracks spread throughout the different level sets. Even when the sound effects are half the volume level, at times the music can get drowned out.
If you have any fond memories of the insanity that was Balloon Fight, you owe it to yourself to get this game. If not, try Balloon Loons anyway. No time like the present to see what you missed. All this game needs as an endless mode where you dodge some force of nature while collecting balloons and the experience will be complete.
Overall Score: 9/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPad 2 running iOS 6.0.1.