Professional, Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Arcade; Burst Balloons In Set Sequence
Author : Mike Williams
Standalone Release(s) : 1989: BALLOON BUSTER, Blue Ribbon, £2.99
Compilation Release(s) : None
Stated compatibility : Electron/BBC Dual Version
Actual compatibility : Electron, BBC B, B+ and Master 128
Supplier : BLUE RIBBON, CDS House, Beckett Road, DONCASTER DN2 4AD
Tel: 01322 21134
Disc compatibility : ADFS 1D00, CDFS 1D00, DFS 1D00
"Buster the Clown enjoys a good laugh and something that gets him chuckling is bursting balloons.
"His latest challenge is to burst balloons in a set sequence. Unfortunately, his colour blindness prevents him from getting a high score. He needs help...your help.
"So don the red nose and join him in this hilarious balloon busting escapade!"
Get the red nose; the wig; the size 36 shoes and the make up and join Buster the Clown as he has a hilarious time 'busting' balloons.
Buster has a brilliant throwing arm, but he has a problem in judging distances. He'll be depending on you to control the strength of his throw so you don't burst more than one balloon at a time. Time can also be wasted if Buster is allowed to throw too hard!
Oh! There's one other problem. Buster is colour blind! He knows that the balloons have to be burst in a set colour sequence but he can't figure out which colour should be first and so on.
Buster is depending on your good eye sight and judgement in this brilliant yet frustrating game!
So go on have a laugh and 'bust' a few balloons!
Z - Jump left, X - Jump right, <SPACE> - Turn left/right
<RETURN> - Press for power, release to fire, <ESCAPE> - Start again
Instructions' Source : BALLOON BUSTER (Blue Ribbon) Back and Inner Inlay
There are many games with strange storylines held within the blurb of the cassette inlay card, all trying to entice you into buying them. But none are half as weird as the one given with BALLOON BUSTER.
You are a clown called Buster who, for some unknown reason, enjoys bursting balloons in colour sequence. Being both colour blind and very inept at judging distances, he needs help and this is where you come in. It is your job to pop the balloons in the correct colour order and with the right amount of throwing power, all against the clock.
It doesn't sound all that inspiring and to be honest the game is downright useless! Burst a balloon out of sequence - (you're not told what the sequence is, so you have to guess!) - and you get an annoying beep with the error message 'OUT OF SEQUENCE'. Pop more than one balloon with a single throw and that annoying beep is back along with the message 'TOO MUCH POWER'. As you have to guess the colour sequence, you get the beep and message almost every throw!
All this left me in a state of frustration and feeling as though I had wasted my money. The graphics are fine and the animation is quite smooth (if a little flickery in places). In fact, I like the way Buster looks up at the ball when he throws it.
The sound is very bad, only a little better than that of SPITFIRE '40. There are no pause or sound on/off facilities and the High Score table is unchallenging as there are no high scores on it! Presumably nobody could be bothered to play it - and I wouldn't blame them either!
If you do complete level one (Great willpower and a lot of patience is needed!), you are greeted with a few background colour changes and the balloons are moved around a bit more.
Once your three lives have been lost through incorrect colour choice or too much power in your throw, you can replay the last level you were on via a five second credit-type timer.
The inlay blurb describes BALLOON BUSTER as a "brilliant yet frustrating game". I would describe it as useless and overpriced. It may only be £2.99 and a new release but Blue Ribbon have plenty of better games than this for the Elk, so avoid it at all cost.
Sound ........................... 2
Graphics ........................ 7
Playability ..................... 4
Lastability ..................... 2
Overall ......................... 3
Christian Weber, EUG #4
Every now and then I discover a game which had a really rough time and this is a prime example. By rough I don't mean treated roughly in an Electron User review, although their boob with the EXILE review defied belief, but more that the game got a rough deal by never even being reviewed...hence no-one knew of its existence.
BALLOON BUSTER by Blue Ribbon is a commercial release that has a very 'neat' feel to it; the packaging is just as bright and attractive as the game itself, it uses a colourful Mode 2 screen, it is written in pure machine code, it incorporates a whole new idea and it's very enjoyable to play.
You control a happy little clown armed with one juggling ball. Up above are a number of different coloured balloons. The idea is to burst them in a pre-set order by hurling the ball according to the rules: don't hit more than one balloon with the same throw, don't hit a balloon of the wrong colour and don't stand around too long thinking - but don't leave yourself in the position where the next sequential coloured balloon is left 'blocked' by one of the others!
And, um, that's it. Because the game is of a 'puzzly' nature, there's no real call for a prologue or explanation why you need to do what you need to do. Yet the 'puzzle' has been uniquely crossbred with an arcade forum; the action takes place upon a theatre stage, you retain and are awarded (on completion of certain screens) a number of 'lives', you must accurately judge the power with which you throw the ball and you progress up through harder and harder levels.
The time limits on the levels are strict and you can frequently run out of time by bouncing your clown in the wrong direction even only a couple of steps. Frequently when I realised this, I paniced and lobbed the ball much harder than normal! Games which have this type of effect take acquired skill to master...and it's fun to try!
A nice touch is that, when you run out of lives, you are returned to either the level you were playing or the one preceding it without having to play all the screens again from the start. This is done by the use of a 'Continue' and ticking down counter - a feature present on many Spectrum and Amstrad games but one which I think is unique to the Electron and is yet another 'arcady' feature!
Adding a spectacular loading screen, fast execution speed within the game and the addictiveness of the idea makes for one of the better Elk games on the market...yet one I have never seen reviewed before! On disc it plays like a dream. On tape, the loading screen takes time to load and, although very nice, is rather cumbersome after the third occasion. Of course, it's easy to just take out the line which loads the screen and spin on the tape!
Overall, the sprites are jolly, the layout is tidy and the idea is unique. This game has been unfairly underexposed; go and seek out a copy of it today!
Dave Edwards, EUG #46