Developer: noname studio
Release Date: February 28, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Couch multiplayer games are hard to come by, especially since online multiplayer games are all-the-rage nowadays. Despite this, Nintendo has always made sure that their consoles featured games that could be played with family and friends at home, and the Nintendo Switch is no different. With the Nintendo Switch’s wide range of controller options, excellent portability, and of course, numerous multiplayer titles, players can easily find and play a couch multiplayer game on the console.
Recently, a new multiplayer party game — that’s filled with undeniably cute balloons (not 99 red balloons, mind you, so it’s not a balloon battle royale game) — has flown its way into the fray of multiplayer games on the Switch. The game I’m referring to is Battlloon, the first game developed by Tokyo-based indie developer Noname Studio. While it’s adorable, plain and simple, and gives players a few fun moments, Battlloon immense simplicity ends up making it like a balloon animal that’s loveable at first, but then, it quickly flattens and becomes less special.
Once players arrive at the main menu for Battllon, they’ll soon come to realize just how simple the game is. While there is an adorable cast of six characters, ranging from an intergalactic, space traveling cat called Astro Cat (similar to that of Nyan Cat) and even Tako-San from Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San, there sadly isn’t a complete story that connects all these characters together. However, at times during loading screens, little pieces of lore for each character is shown, which adds to the game’s charm. It’s pretty disappointing that this is the case, though, since each character is obviously cute, so tying in a story somehow, even a simple one, would’ve been a nice addition.
Gameplay, however, is what gives Battloon the air it needs to stay afloat. Battlloon has up to four players against one another in battles of bouncing balloons in multiple arenas. Players choose a balloon character, which has their own distinct traits (for example: Birdie Jay’s, a small little bird balloon, light weight makes it a weak but very agile hitter) and in each battle, players must inflate their balloons and then deflate to fly right into opponents. The objective is to bounce opponents into a set of spikes or other hazards that come up in each stage in order to earn points as doing so leads to complete victory. One feature that makes the game even more enjoyable, particularly for inexperienced players, is how any downed players can still join in on the balloon popping fun as they come back as a ghost form and can enact revenge. It’s similar to that of the ghost feature in classic party games like Bomberman 64, which is great.
Another addition that makes gameplay more exciting is how each stage has various environmental hazards to watch out for. For instance, one stage has a giant meteor that slowly plummets straight down, whereas another stage has whirlwinds that make maneuvering around a little more tricky. The stages and the hazards in them make every battle in Battlloon different, but unfortunately, players do not have any options to select the stage and hazards they play in.
The lack of customization and content in Battlloon is what ends up making it more like a simple minigame than a complete gaming experience and will ultimately cause many players to move onto a different game. Playing a few battles with friends is fun, but then after that, there’s nothing else to keep players coming back for more, and players can’t play the game solo since there isn’t the option to do so.
What’s more, is that there are no unlockables like in-game achievements or additional characters and stages to unlock, and there isn’t online multiplayer, which makes Battlloon a shallow experience overall. Perhaps via a massive update, this could change, but as of right now, the only reason to play the game is that it delivers an enjoyable local multiplayer experience. Regardless of this, the title does have gorgeous pixel art, a pleasant chiptune soundtrack that reminds me of music around at a carnival, and a reasonable price that’s a nice plus.
It’s clear that Battlloon is the developers’ first foray into making a game, and it’s a decent start. Battlloon‘s solid core components, mainly its loveable look and its gameplay that’s fun for players of all ages, is what makes the game a delight to play. Most players, however, will be disappointed to find that once they pop, the fun basically does stop due to how empty the game is. With that said, Battlloon is an entertaining multiplayer party game that’s best played in short bursts. I’m optimistic about the future of Noname Studio, especially after playing Battlloon, as I fully believe that the studio’s next title will rise up and be something even more special.
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