Namco's 1981 King and Balloon
The Kingdom is under attack. From balloons. And not just any balloons... these are alien space balloons! How do I know? Because they sound exactly like the aliens in Galaxian.

For that matter, this game plays almost exactly like Galaxian. Almost. What sets the game apart is that instead of protecting yourself, you're now protecting the King. How noble!

You have infinite lives with which to battle the dive-bombing balloons. You and some other guy carry this enormous crossbow back and forth along a castle wall, shooting arrows up at the balloons, popping them. If a balloon shoots you or crashes into you, you fall down for a few seconds, but bounce right up again.

If the balloons succeed in getting past you, they'll grab the King and lift him skyward, as he yells "Help me!". If you can shoot the balloon before it escapes, the King will float back down to the castle, give you a quick "Thank you", then just frantically run back and forth, and get captured all over again.

I never said he was a particularly bright King.

Lose all of your Kings, and the monarchy comes to an end. So does the game. Maybe they should try holding elections next time. Just a thought.

The part of the game where you rescue the King is remarkably similar to freeing captured ships in Galaga. You have to wonder if this is where Namco originated the idea.

Missing Ingredient
I guess this was meant to be a kids' version of Galaxian. The King, who has several voice samples, is kind of a funny character - but what the game sorely lacked were cartoon characters in the balloons. Something cute and appealing that kids could shoot at, knock out of the sky, and send plummeting, screaming to their deaths.

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


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