A multiplayer game of floaty fun that's mostly full of hot air.
Battlloon’s competitive local multiplayer is reminiscent of mini-games like Mario Party 2’s Bumper Balls, which you’ve likely seen a dozen times. The objective is to fill your balloon-like character with air and then release the air to propel you into your opponents, hoping to knock them into spikes that line the perimeter of the screen. Without question, it doesn’t take long to figure out how to play and win at Battlloon, but the lack of content and customization options make the experience a deflating one.
Upon booting up the game, you are presented with four choices: Battle!, Training, Options, and Credits. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that the first and main option of the game, Battle!, cannot be played solo; you must have at least one other person to play against. The training mode can be played with one or two players and provides a decent overview of the simple control scheme and gameplay, but the Options menu’s meager offerings of display language and sound volume foreshadow Battlloon’s dearth of choice.
With a group of two to four people, you can choose from six different characters, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Mr. Balloon gains speed as he gets closer to walls, and Birdie Jay is small and fast but more susceptible to being knocked around. The characters all feel unique and require different strategies to be successful. Upon entering a battle, a stage is chosen at random, and the stages have different hazards that can impede or kill you. For example, one level is set high above the clouds against a starry night sky, and here you have to avoid meteors that periodically fall from the sky and stun you temporarily. Other stages have springs on the walls and rocks that crumble away after you touch them, revealing deadly spikes underneath. Depending on the number of players, you need to accumulate a set number of points to be crowned champion, with points awarded depending on where you place, your number of KO’s, and any falling coins you collect.
While the gameplay itself is fun and the simple presentation and aesthetic fits, not being able to set your own game length, choose which stages to play, or really alter any of the mechanics dramatically takes away from the experience. Making matters worse is the absence of a single-player mode. Not to put too fine a point on it but I don’t think Battlloon does enough to stand out in an ever-more crowded Switch eShop. For some cheap and quick entertainment, it barely does the job, and even then I think you’re better off just letting this one fly away.