I'll admit it, I'm one of those people who brings their Nintendo Switch to parties. Why would I want to talk about politics or play Cards Against Humanity for the five hundredth time when I can start an impromptu Smash Bros. tournament? So yes, I'm that person who those silly Nintendo Switch ads were meant for. You know, the ones in which a bunch of hip millennials have a great time playing Nintendo games at a rooftop party. It turns out that the Switch actually has a lot of friendly games for that scenario, and BATTLLOON is a great addition to the list.
BATTLLOON is one of those precious and rare games that people just get. At every party, there's always that one person who, after you explain the rules of a game in detail, still asks "so what do I do?" once it's their turn. There isn't that problem here, though, as there are two things to do inBATTLLOON: move and inflate. Once you inflate your balloon by holding the "A" equivalent button down, you release it to let out your air, propelling you through the sky. Then, you use the control stick to steer and hopefully bump other players' balloons (up to three) into spikes so that they pop.
That's it. You inflate, deflate, steer, and bump. It's so intuitive there's no reason to ask "so what do I do?" However, just in case there are still doubters, the developers cleverly turned the character selection screen into a practice ring. Until Player One hits the button to begin the match, players are free to float around and even re-choose characters if one doesn't move to their liking.
This is where BATTLLOON starts to show some surprising depth in its design. The different characters move in different ways. For example, the giant puffer fish can't turn well but won't budge when bumped. Just with that, many budget Switch games would create six characters, charge $5 for it, and call it a day. However, BATTLLOON developer noname studio took it further by throwing in more variables.
One of these variables is the scoring system. You technically "win" a round by being the last balloon standing (or floating). However, this win only earns you one point. To actually win the game as a whole, you have to get a certain number of points based on the number of players. KOing an opponent by sending them into spikes gives you two points. In three or four player games, downed players come back as ghosts and can still get KOs. This means that you can get popped right away and still win the whole game. Throw in stage hazards and a bonus for popping last round's survivor, and you'll find that this seemingly simple party game allows for many different play styles.
That said, it's still a very simple game. There is no single player mode, so you can't even play a few matches against computers. There's also no customization options, which means that you're fully at the mercy of the game when it comes to the stages and hazards you'll be facing. Even though it's a $6.99 indie game, BATTLLOON should have at least included that much.
There are a lot of questionable party games on the Nintendo Switch eShop, and even more on Steam. However, BATTLLOON, thankfully, floats above those and delivers a fun experience that even the most inexperienced gamer can grasp. It's definitely worth having on your Switch so that you can pull it out the next time you're on a roof and someone suggests the gang plays Apples To Apples, again.
A Nintendo Switch copy of BATTLLOON was provided by the publisher for this review. The game is available now on Switch and Steam.
3.25 out of 5 stars.