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.