When I started up the Good Nintentions project, there were a few specific games I had in mind to write about. I knew that for every Stack-Up or Urban Champion I had to slog through, there would be highlights like Super Mario Bros. as well. And today, we come to one of the classics I was most excited to write about: Balloon Fight.
I never owned Balloon Fight back in the day, but it was one I borrowed from that obligatory friend everyone had — the one who seemed to have an infinite budget for getting all the best stuff that the rest of us could only gaze upon in envy but was always really cool about it. I didn’t really enjoy it that much at the time… which isn’t to say I disliked it, and in fact I really dug Balloon Trip mode. But this was 1988 we’re talking about, and I had already savored the pleasures of Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario Bros. It was kind of tough to go back to a single-screen arcade-style experience, especially when I’d played its inspiration (Joust) to death back when it was a current arcade release.
Over time, though, I gradually began to appreciate Balloon Fight more. It’s a Joust clone, yes, undeniably so. But I realized that, heretical as it may be to say, Balloon Fight is the better game. The two-hit balloon mechanic grants a bit more mercy to the player that comes as something of a necessity, since your characters appear larger on the screen, meaning the action can become quite crowded in a hurry. The level designs change, which keeps things varied, and the later stages can become quite unpredictable thanks to the inclusion of elements like spinners that send anyone who collides with them flying off in different directions. And, of course, that Balloon Trip music.
Even though this video clocks in a bit shorter than many retrospectives for much lesser games, there is no less love invested into this one. I even managed to convince my wife to play it with me for the co-op footage, and while she doesn’t play many games, so really seemed to enjoy this one (and we made it quite a ways into the game in her second time through). In short, it’s basically just a great game.
Oh dog dang it, I knew I forgot something yesterday. Hello! Here is the latest Retronauts, being posted here on the blog. I was so busy trying to get the advance episode prepped I totally overlooked our public-facing side. I am a monster.
Anyway, the nice thing about Retronauts is that it’s not really timely per se, so this episode will be every bit as valid and relevant today as it was yesterday. This week’s show is a follow-up to the PlayStation anniversary episode from last summer… the one where we learned of Satoru Iwata’s passing in the middle of the recording session and promised to circle back to HAL, the studio he helped build, helped save, and which helped him become Nintendo’s president for the company’s most successful and profitable run in its history.
Joining us this week, we have regular contributors Henry Gilbert of the Laser Time Podcast Network and Christian Nutt of Gamasutra. They know stuff.
Libsyn (1:26:01) | MP3 Download | SoundCloud
Jeremy, Bob, Henry Gilbert, and Christian Nutt convene to look back at the history of HAL Laboratory in tribute to the late Satoru Iwata.
Enjoy the episode! Even though it’s late!
A slightly unconventional episode this week. You can read about the specifics in our USgamer post, but the short version is that we had initially planned to publish this PlayStation anniversary tribute on the 20th anniversary of the system’s launch in September. However, Nintendo issued its press release announcing the death of its president, Satoru Iwata, in the middle of this episode. All things considered, it made more sense to run the episode now (skipping the Patreon paywall).
As we discuss in this episode, Sony and Nintendo’s console game businesses have always shared a close link. But after the experience of hosting this episode, the two will always be inextricably connected for me.
Libsyn (1:38:02 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud )
Retronauts vet and Sony enthusiast/employee Shane Bettenhausen joins us to discuss the 20th anniversary of the PS1 launch in America. (This episode is running before its intended September time slot due to the tragic news that breaks midway through.)
Music in this week’s episode mostly comes from Exact’s Jumping Flash! The episode ends with Hip Tanaka’s “Balloon Trip” remix he created in tribute to Iwata.
Bob and I plan to reconvene next month to record more episodes, one of which will definitely focus on HAL and Iwata’s contributions to gaming. Also, yeah, I goofed on the SNES sound processor specifics — Yamaha worked on the Genesis sound processor. You don’t need to send corrections!