Being a 1995 child meant I spawned through the meteoric rise of 3D gaming. Sony launched the primary PlayStation months earlier than I used to be born, and the Nintendo 64 arrived solely two years later. Though I grew up throughout a brand new daybreak for consoles, one in all my earliest and fondest gaming recollections concerned the 1984 8-bit platformer Balloon Combat.
The Nintendo Leisure System title is barebones, like most titles on the time. Nevertheless, its dedication to co-op gameplay is the proper historic instance of why easy video games which are rooted in having enjoyable with associates, just like the current indie sensation Amongst Us, will at all times have a spot in avid gamers’ hearts.
My dad and mom have been skeptical about shopping for me a console, apprehensive that I might be glued to the TV all day. As a substitute, they opted for handheld options, just like the Sport Boy Shade. With no console to name my very own, I spent numerous hours within the early 2000s on the ground of my childhood pal’s room, the place we took turns clearing ranges on Tremendous Mario 64. My online game expertise was basically modified when my bud’s dad dusted off his NES and slotted in his Balloon Combat cartridge.
Till then, my pal and I had solely been passing an N64 controller forwards and backwards. Grabbing the NES’s rectangular controller was my first introduction to the world of co-op video games. I used to be hypnotized by Balloon Combat‘s pixelated artwork, and its oscillating theme song stuffed my pal’s room as we turned the purple and blue Balloon Fighters. However we rapidly realized this wasn’t going to be our common gaming session.
The sport’s important goal is to drift above its enemies — Balloon Birds — and pop their balloons earlier than they pop yours. That is made a lot more durable in Balloon Combat‘s two-player mode as a result of teammates can pop every others’ balloons or knock them into hazard. For sure, our first few rounds have been utter chaos.
We knocked one another into Balloon Birds and have been wolfed up by the giant fish that lurks on the backside of Balloon Combat‘s levels. However all of these failures made us understand communication is vital, so we started coordinating our methods for every stage by shouting out which enemy we have been going for or what facet of the stage every of us would clear. It obtained to some extent when my pal and I have been selecting to play the 8-bit title over newer releases on the time, like Tremendous Smash Bros. Melee.
Balloon Combat modified my childhood gaming classes from quietly watching another person play after I died in Tremendous Mario 64 to hours-long grinds crammed with laughs and screams. It additionally modified a lot of Nintendo’s future titles, together with the 1985 launch of Tremendous Mario Bros.
Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto revealed the water level in Tremendous Mario Bros. used the identical floating mechanics utilized in Balloon Combat a yr earlier. The retro title would additionally go on to encourage one other teenage obsession of mine, Balloon Duel on NewGrounds, which improved the whole lot about Balloon Combat.
This Adobe Flash recreation was uploaded to the animation-sharing web site by person Mousekliks again in 2004 however I caught on to it in 2008. It let gamers customize their Balloon Fighter, added distinctive weapons you could possibly geared up to fit your play type, and so they added an area Versus mode that turned the co-op insanity of Balloon Combat into hysterical trash speaking sprees.
Very like the 8–bit title, the target of Balloon Duel was to pop opponents’ balloons by stepping on them to have them fall to their doom. There was a single participant mode however it was most enjoyable once you performed with two or three associates huddled across the identical pc, which turned an nearly day by day routine for my associates and I at my faculty’s library.
Sadly, all fashionable web browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla FireFox will not be utilizing the Flash plugin after December 2020, which suggests Balloon Duel will quickly be unable to run on most browsers and turn into only a fond reminiscence for former NewGrounds customers. However the legacy of Balloon Combat is way from useless.
A port of the sport is out there for $7.99 on the Nintendo Switch, which has let me relive my most cherished gaming moments. Balloon Duel is a testomony that straightforward ideas which are executed effectively and convey individuals collectively might be simply as engrossing as enjoying video games with 4K graphic and planet-scale open worlds. That has turn into acutely evident over the top of 2020.
The meteoric rise of Among Us appears counteriuitave months earlier than the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Collection X appears are set to usher in a brand new period of console gaming. However the get together recreation’s success might be chalked as much as the identical attract that drew me into Balloon Combat a decade after its launch.
It is simple that lifelike graphics and big digital worlds are the longer term, however the 8-bit legacy of making easy video games which are elevated by enjoying with associates and stranger will float on endlessly.
8-Bit Week is an Inverse celebration of the basic — and forgotten — video games that pushed the boundaries of interactive leisure within the Nineteen Eighties and past.