Yogi Bear: Great Balloon Blast

Yogi Bear: Great Balloon Blast

Platform: Gameboy Colour

Released: Dec 2000

Region: North America

Dev: Taito

Publisher: BAM! Entertainment

How to take a fairly passable puzzle game, and make it awful.

I have a rule that I will only obtain games that I want to play. There’s way too many out there to attempt to grab everything, and I have no interest in ever trying to collect every title for a particular system and be a completionist, which is absolutely fine. Collect how you want to collect. We only have finite resources, such as money, space and time.

As with every rule however, there are exceptions. Such as those times when job-lots are at an offer too good to refuse, in the hopes of finding some wonderful hidden gem.

This isn’t a hidden gem. Sorry to disappoint. My first review is born of spinning a random title in an effort to sort out my collection, make my way through the backlog, and off-load the God-awful titles that I will never play again. I’ve avoided this title in the past, but here we go, this is the first time playing.

Wish I had spun again for something better. Maybe this game wouldn’t have gotten so much ire from me if it wasn’t the first to review.

Yogi Bear: Great Balloon Blast, is a bit of an oddity. It’s a direct port of another game which in turn was ported from arcades to home consoles. Essentially this review is a two-for-one, because to explain why YB:GBB is so bad, we also have to look at its twin – and far superior – title, Pop’n Pop.

Pop’n Pop, released World-wide on the PlayStation during 1998-2000, is a cute and colourful arcade puzzle game featuring characters from many Taito franchises such as Kiki Kaikai, New Zealand Story and Bubble Bobble. Gameplay is a hybrid mish-mash of Tetris, Bust-a-Move, Puzzle Bobble, Arkanoid, and the match-3 style. A Gameboy Colour version was also released 2000-2001 for the EU and JPN markets.

North America also had a Gameboy Color release. But not as Pop’n Pop. No. For some unexplainable reason, NA received this abysmal version.

Gone were the Taito characters. Gone were the bright and smooth graphics. Gone was the cute ‘story’, and the two-characters gameplay (note: not two player). Directly comparing this game with its EU or JPN release shows it’s flaws and that it’s lacking.

Gameplay is essentially the same although not nearly as smooth. It misses the cute helper character and replaces it with a boring, static basket. The music remains the same, albeit plinky, annoying and hollow, but the graphics here are the big problem. They are a clunky, washed out, boring pixelated mess. Uninspiring, flat bland colours with very little sprite development. Nothing about the game graphics are exciting, or detailed enough to entice anyone in to play the game for more than a few minutes.

Gameplay is slow and jerky. Text areas at the start are formatted in blocky, unreadable words (why did they use this font?!) and with the most awkward of dialogue cut-offs. In a word or two: it’s awful. There are amazing GBC games out there that make the very best of the hardware and screen area, that push the graphics to a degree where they still look decent by today’s standards. This doesn’t, even by 2000 standards of what the GBC could do at the time. It looks quickly put together by a team that could care less and designed it in a ZX Spectrum, focusing on getting something mediocre out of the door, that is mediocre in playability, and attracting less than mediocre sales.

Given that this version was re-worked and published by BAM! Entertainment, I’m not surprised. The publisher was known for churning out licensed Cartoon Network kid games, especially on the GBC/GBA, and could mostly be called ‘shovelware’, or releasing subpar ports of far superior, legacy titles. BAM! Entertainment had only one fairly successful release, a GBA title, and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2005. If the rest of their offering is as poor as YB:GBB, it is not surprising that the company quickly went defunct.

The only interesting thing about this game to me, is that I wonder how this loose cart made it across the pond to UK shores. The takeaway from this: if you’re looking for a fairly entertaining, but not too taxing, puzzler, look for the PS1 release, or the GBC EU/JPN release at second best. Give this Yogi Bear title a complete miss, take your pic-a-nic basket, and swerve away in the opposite direction, Boo Boo.

Super Mario Bros, NES Original Version.

This is it, where it all began!

Game Detail:

Screw you, Bowser

Game: Super Mario Bros.
Console: NES
Format: Original Cart
Playing on: Retron5
Cheats used: Infinite lives. Because I suck.

Where else should I start other than the first Nintendo game I played? Super Mario Bros. is one of the three games that I have actually completed, (when I was about fourteen or fifteen) and it’s time to see if I can still do that.

Apparently, that’s a no, because I am stuck on 6-4 with no signs of advancing forward yet. Did I mention I’m also little and unable to get the goddamn mushroom? It took me about 30 minutes to get to 6-4, and so far two weeks still stuck here. Clearly, I’ve not been playing video games nearly enough over the last few years.

Super Mario Bros is the game that sucked me in to video games in a big way. I remember seeing it for the first time and being completely enthralled. The friend that had the NES at the time was the friend that taught me how to play, from running and jumping, all the secrets and warp zones, and how to always hit the top of the flag at the end of every level.

For me, this game still stands the test of time. Here I am at forty something, and I am so damn close to smacking Bowser off his bridge at the end of 6-4, but still just missing it and being caught by his hammers. I’m getting just as annoyed as I did at eleven years old. Even as I write, 6-4 is playing in the background, and the music has sped up for the last 99 count to get the heart-rate and anxiety up, because running out of time is serious business.

No one can deny the impact this slightly portly plumber has had on the gaming world. In the 90’s Mario was more widely recognised by American children than Mickey Mouse. More than 200 Mario games have been produced, and the franchise has grossed an estimated $25.907 billion in sales as of 2018.

Not bad for a jumping plumber at all.

But back to this game. We all know that the enhanced remake for 1993’s Super Mario All-Stars is visually superior. Come on, just look at them in comparison. However, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get into the SNES version or even make it past some of the earlier levels. That itself is for a future post (hopefully) to air my gripes, but for me, the original NES version is the definitive and will always be the way I play this game. If I guess to have played it one thousand times, I’d be low-balling that figure. Level 1-1 is so ingrained into my brain and muscle memory, I could probably play that level blindfolded.

With that said, I think it’s time to get back to playing and see if I can prove myself still young at heart and able to complete this game.

EDIT: I have got through 6-4! Shame I’m now stuck on 7-1.