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Description

Released by Namco in the summer of 1980, King & Balloon is a shoot em up in the vein of Galaxian, but trades the outer space theme for pseudo-medieval setting. In the game, the player controls two green men who carry a cannon, as they defend the king below them from getting abducted by the balloons above, which keep invading the lower part of the screen while also shooting projectiles. Once all the balloons are shot down, the game moves on to the next level.

One thing that makes King & Balloon unique is that you don't lose a life when hit. Rather, you respawn and keep on playing. The only way to lose a life is letting the king get abducted. Another interesting mechanic of note is that the balloons stop attacking and descending when one grabs ahold of the king, and they will keep still until the king is back on the ground. This creates a risk versus reward mechanic and entices you to let the balloon carry the king high enough so you can take out more balloons, then rescuing the king just in time.

King & Balloon was also one of the first games to have speech synthesis, and it still holds up better than most contemporary or even later examples. The king says "Help!" when abducted, "Thank You!" when rescued, and "Bye bye!" when he leaves the screen. There are actually different voices for the game in Japan and the US version, with the Japan version having a slight Japanese accent.


December 31, 1980