When I read the description for this game, I was over the moon because I’ve been in need of a fairly relaxing, easy-going game. I’m sure that for someone, Balloon Flight is a nice and easy-going game. For me, it wasn’t, but as always, your mileage may vary.
Balloon Fight really isn’t a game that has a plot as the entire point is for you to a) create an airship out of a piece of deck and b) steer that through as many rings as possible against the clock. You chiefly do this by alternating between creating balloons and popping them in order to change the direction your “air raft” heads, and please let me be the first to tell you that it can go horribly wrong very quickly.
You open the game in a green area, thankfully on the ground, where you can play around with your balloon gun and become acquainted with what it does. One trigger creates balloons, and the other pops them. Once you think you’ve gotten that mastered, you move on over to the decking, where you create enough balloons on your “raft” to become airborne, and then, you’re off to the races pretty literally. After that, you use your gun as previously described to try and push your raft through the white rings that float above the mysteriously suspended islands.
I should mention that you do have propellers that theoretically afford you more control over your raft, but I found them to be more trouble than they were worth. Outside of the one that starts your raft moving forward, I don’t think I used them. If you manage, please let me know how you did it.
So, this game starts out fairly innocuously. There’s a green space with a sign that tells you how to play. The graphics are charmingly retro, and well, using the different triggers to manipulate the physics of the world is fairly straightforward. Much like no plan ever survives contact with the enemy, no grasp of physical mechanics ever quite works all the way through a game. That nugget of wisdom holds especially true for Balloon Flight.
It’s easy to cover your raft in balloons, but in addition to remembering how many and which balloons need to be popped to steer the raft in the correct direction, you have to keep in mind that not only is your raft a finite space generally, but there’s also a hole in the center. I can only surmise the hole exists because the devs are sadists. In any event, if you cover your raft with too many balloons, not only will you not pass through the target rings, but you’ll very quickly lose any sense at all of where you are, due to the game’s FPS-style design. Remember the hole in the raft? Yes, you can and will fall through that, plummeting to your death while cheerful music plays, mocking you for your failure.
While you start each run at the same location on the same island, the rest of the islands are procedurally generated, so you’ll see something new every time. Plus, you can see these islands, depending on your skill at landing, at least I assume. I never managed to land. I did care for the designs, which definitely seemed to be channeling a definition of whimsy, but beyond that, I don’t entirely get the appeal of Balloon Flight. Assuming you invest the time, you can get far enough to unlock different balloon shapes, but I spent entirely too much time plummeting to my doom to do that.
At times, the fall wasn’t my fault. The physics engine has some kinks that need addressing as I clipped things I couldn’t see or ran into walls I didn’t anticipate. Also, good luck if you get stuck against an island. Just saying.
Balloon Flight is great if you’re interested in a physics game where the game’s entire focus is on manipulating those physics, but for most of us, I’m going to guess that it’s a one and done kind of game. As far as skill loss, there’s no real worry there so much as you might forget the engine’s idiosyncrasies. There’s no violence, so it’s definitely a game one can play with one’s children, unless you’re as prone to yelling at the screen as I am.
Balloon Flight retails for $5.99 on both Steam and the Nintendo Store.
Stray Thoughts From Behind the Keyboard
- The music mocked my pain.
- I hope you like that sign because you will see it every single time you start.
- I do think the game could do with a tutorial.
- I will admit that the game offers vast opportunities for stunts.