King And Balloon
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  • Namco
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  • Action - Shooter - 2D (example - Thunder Force)
  • 1981
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7  |  Galaxian Meets The Middle Ages
Darryl B. , 5/2/2006 1:09:40 AM
Being another in a series of reviews that I'm doing in regards to when a friend of mine sent me a bunch of ROMs last year, this one confused me at first, since it was a medieval rip-off of Galaxian (or so I thought, which I'll get to).

Galaxian was a pretty cool step-up from Space Invaders, having REAL color this time around (the "color" in Invaders was due to a couple of embedded strips in the monitor [or maybe it was the cabinet] to make the bunkers and the invaders green when they got close, and the bonus U. F. O. yellow), better graphics, and the aliens dive-bombed you. The game was a fair-sized hit, although some say it was overshadowed by Pac-Man's release (not that the games looked or played anything alike, as Pac-Man was amazingly different at the time), but then the next game of the same genre (of the bottom-screen shooter) of Galaga was a much more huge hit, and is known -- and beloved by many -- as to being one of THE best of that genre ever, even today.

Here, the aliens were replaced by balloons, but the exact same background noise that was in Galaxian is present here (and I think the sound for when you shot the balloons was the same as when you shot an alien in Galaxian, but I can't say for sure, since I don't have the ROM any more). The gameplay was also exactly the same, except for the bonus of a king at the bottom (more on that later). I couldn't BELIEVE the gall of this rip-off!

And then I found out both games were made by the same company.

Oh. Ok. Iiiiiiinteresting...

Yep, here the balloons swoop down at you, and you shoot 'em, just like in Galaxian. However, this time around, instead of the futuristic laser cannon, you've got a big crossbow controlled by two men, one on each side. There's also a fat, pixelated king below your cannon; good thing the game was called "King and Balloon", because I would have had no idea what the hell it was ("Pixelated Blob and Balloon" I would've believed any day).

So you shoot the balloons, just like in Galaxian. However, sometimes when one gets past your cannon, it heads for your king. "HELP! HELP!" he cries (via voice synthesis and by those words appearing onscreen as well) as he's carried off. If you're able to shoot his abductors, the king will float back down (dunno how this is possible, with his fat ass) as he says "thaaaaaaank you". This is pretty funny how he says this; I wish I had a voice clip for it. And if he gets away and is carried off the screen? "BYE BYE!" I was wondering what would happen as I played my very first game of this; however, he doesn't sound the least bit worried -- maybe it's a nice view as he's being carried away, plus you're still two peasants stuck in a dead-end job [which is amusing to him] -- he actually sounds way too happy about it, like he's going to The Land of Pixelated, Fat, Happy Hookers and Court Jesters of Ye Highest Amusement, or something.

This is a really unique game, to be a take-off of a previous one, to redo it in an older setting, add the funny voice synthesis, and add a little bit to the original formula, which is why I'm rating it fairly high, since most remakes/take-offs usually don't deserve it, in my opinion. However, I had never heard of it until several months ago, so I assume it wasn't a very big hit, and it must be pretty rare now.

Still unique though, idea-wise, even if the gameplay isn't much of a step up from Galaxian. Never have a bunch of balloons ever been such a threat for royalty...or not. 7/10

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