Balloon in a Wasteland


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Rating: 4.2/5 (148 votes)
| Comments (24) | Views (293)

DoraBalloon in a WastelandWhy didn't The Wizard of Oz include a scene at the end where Dorothy's balloon crashed on the way back to Kansas and she had to utilise a variety of guns, turrets, upgrades and traps to fend off hordes of shadow creatures long enough to repair it and escape? The answer is either "because Victor Fleming is lame", or "because jmbt02 wasn't around with his sleigh full of shooting/defense games". Dorothy isn't the star of Balloon in a Wasteland, but the lack of ruby slippers won't stop your imagination from pretending she is. And we know you will.

Move with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, use the mouse to aim and shoot, and [P] to pause the game. Enemies will approach from the right side of the screen in waves, and you'll have to mow them down as they come not only to survive, but to get cash to purchase upgrades. Between waves, merchants will arrive to allow you to buy traps, fortresses to retreat to when things get hairy, new weapons, and upgrades for everything. The goal is to survive long enough to repair your beloved balloon and escape in as few days as possible. Run over to it whenever you get a chance and tap the down [arrow] or [S] to start repairing it, but doing so leaves you unable to attack. Keep an eye on your health and your stamina, since if the latter gets low enough, your accuracy will begin to degrade. Buy a fort to sleep safely in to recover it.

Analysis: It's a moody, broody little game with its unsettling soundtrack and strange landscape with stranger inhabitants. However, with that acknowledgment comes the strong sensation of having seen most of it before. Previous titles from jmbt02 The Next Floor and Red Eye 1031 were either similar in concept, or nearly identical in their design. The dark aesthetic is striking, sure, but it's starting to feel a bit recycled, and despite the slightly more colourful backdrop this time around, I can't help but wish we'd see something new and exciting rather than variations on a theme. Besides, I'm sure that lone shooter's arm is tired by now.

Despite the sheer amount of enemies the game will deluge the screen with, Balloon in a Wasteland isn't actually all that hard. Once you can afford a fortress to retreat to, even without turrets the creeps won't bother you. If you wish, you can simply sleep through the waves, popping down between them to repair your balloon. It may take longer, and it's definitely cowardly, but it's an option, and once you realise it, the game loses a bit of its fast-paced menace and turns into a round of hide-and-seek.

If you're looking for some action to fill half an hour or so, Balloon in a Wasteland will deliver. Despite lacking a satisfying ending for all your sweat and bullets, the game packs a lot of action for those of you who are willing to stand your ground against the horde. Just remember to retreat if you need to. A heroic death may sound noble, but nobody cares if you die defending a balloon. Or aren't Boromir.

Play Balloon in a Wasteland

24 Comments

It's an interesting idea, but the gameplay is indeed very unbalanced. I thought "well, anytime now some flying/giant monsters are going to show up and attack my tower" but it didn't happen.

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howbigis1gb Author Profile Page February 15, 2010 2:34 PM

Once you build a tower, the game is pretty much won.

I could have finished the game at Day 2-3, but I stayed to level up everything. And once you get the assault rifle - the game becomes way too easy.

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There are larger monsters, which can hit you if you're only 5 feet off the ground but they show up during the evening of Day 2 and onward, when it's highly possible that you have already finished the game. For some reason, neither of the two flying types I encountered were willing to attack the fort or my character were I in their flight path while in the fort. It makes the repair upgrades somewhat useless as there is usually adequate time after purchasing the fort upgrades to build them fully.

I found that the first machine gun was more than adequate and its upgrade was even more amusing for defensive purposes.

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I can't help but wish we'd see something new and exciting rather than variations on a theme.

I completely agree. I admire jmtb for the speed with which he releases games, but I have felt that none of his games lately have been particularly innovative. Yes, they are playable and fun, but I don't see any new sparks out of what I once considered an amazing game designer. Here is to hoping he decides to step back and really attempt to come up with a novel game mechanic.
(Yes, you could argue that the 'fixing the balloon' is a novel game mechanic, but in practice it feels like a secondary objective that doesn't matter much since it isn't balanced properly)

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It is a 'variation of a theme' but I think there is some interesting ideas here.

I'm working on a similar concept for iPhone. I really like the 'repair the balloon' aspect as mentioned above. There's the primary goal of survival that you see in games like this, but the secondary goal of escaping. I was disappointed that it was so easy to escape, even on my first playthrough.

HOWEVER, I think there is room to do something interesting here. One idea I'm exploring is the idea of multiple endings, like many Flash experimental games. If we compare this game to Wizard of Oz, you could choose to pump up your balloon and escape in 2 days -- this is the 'easy' ending. You can also choose to fight until Day 7, at which point, if you survive, you become the Wizard of Oz. You could have a few other endings, depending on what other elements you introduce.

So no, this isn't a totally unique game, but still fun and introduced some new ideas. I hope we see these secondary objectives introduced in more of these defense type games in the future.

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You should blame Frank L. Bram, not that other guy.

They misspelled foul on the games page.. I guess all the enemies are chickens in disguise.

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The balloon-fixing mechanic is inspired. The problem I tend to run into with defense games is that the lack of end-game means I leave after I'm sick and tired of the mechanics. Not a good way to leave me with a fuzzy feeling towards the game.

The balloon-fixing is an elegant fix. While I did go back and get the achievements -- and encountered the same "Oh gods, when will it end" ennui I usually get from defense games -- the first play-through had a pleasant sense of purpose. Rather than futilely trying to protect myself from a never-ending stream of monsters, I was actually taking an active role in ending the madness.

I do agree that the game needs more balance, though. In particular, I think the beginning could be made a touch more difficult by rate-limiting the non-automatic weapons. By hammering on my mouse-button, I was able to fire as fast or faster than the automatic weaponry. This greatly simplifies the beginning of the game.

The way the enemies are only interested in you is also strange and takes some of the challenge out of it. I would've liked to see the enemies at least attack your fortress, though perhaps only if you (or your turrets) attack them first. This way you could still choose to sleep through a wave of enemies, but you can't just kill a handful of their ranks and then retreat to perfect safety if it gets too wooly for you.

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Alright! JIG got around to this game!

I've been having fun with this one for a couple weeks now. I agree with the overall theme here that it's way too easy but like Defend Your Castle there's something addicting about it.

I escaped on day three my first time around and realized the blob monsters were waaaay too wimpy. Sometimes the flying creatures do damage while other times they don't. Why??? And the fort being invincible is just ridiculous.

With a little tweaking this could go from interesting to an amazing game.

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This isn't a hard or original game, but it's not bad for killing some time. Plus, achievements! :P

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Dorothy never got on the balloon. The wizard did. So you might play the wiz.

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This is a great game. Gameplay is easy enough. It seems like at the beginning it is impossible not to lose health. After getting the machine gun its really easy to survive. The achievements are what makes the game re-playable. The escape by day 3 one was the only one I had trouble on.

You have to fix your balloon non stop. Rest only when your stamina goes under 5%. Dont buy anything except when you can get the machine gun and upgrades. That's how I did that achievement.

It's really annoying when you die. The red on the screen goes on forever.

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I agree with what many of the people above have said about balance. I managed to get the assault rifle by day two, and at that point the game was pretty much won.

My real problem with this game is that the shopkeepers know that you're stuck in this wasteland, and don't even offer you a ride. Terrible manners!

(Though now that I think about it more, it was equally bad manners to let those enemies through for the next guy to deal with.)

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Frankly, I finished the game twice. First in 3 days, second in 2 days.

In the first, I got the Boompipe and its upgrades, as well as the Sniper Rifle and its upgrades.

The Boompipe makes killing those fiends way too easy, but the reload time's a killer.

And after finishing the game twice, I decided to commit suicide on playthrough #3...God, the red...it blinds! O_O

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wildflower12 Author Profile Page February 16, 2010 3:29 AM

The best thing about jmtb02 games is the achievement goals. Other than trying to get all 20 achievements, the game is pretty boring. Interesting concept, would be better if it was a little harder.

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^That. That's really the main goal in these sort of games - achievements. I accidentally finished repairing my balloon before I'd gotten all the achievements I'd wanted (it was already after Day 4, so I figured I might as well get as many as I can), so I'd have to play again...

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I really enjoyed it but it was too easy. I didn't get the last achievement of completing the game in 4 days but did all the others. Bought all the weapons, traps, turrets and forts within 8 days I think.

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Agreed on the lack of challenge. Escaped before 7 am on the second day without buying more than a first aid station and the second gun.

At the end you can amuse yourselves with my ninja skills trick:

Buy the wires and spikes. Dump them all in a single spot.

Jump, sleep at the apex. Wake, jump, sleep at the apex. Rise into the skies over your trap stew. Go high enough to avoid the flying enemies and the tall enemies.

Watch land-based blobs waste themselves away on the traps. Waste airborne blobs with the weapons of your choice.

Ninja skills, man.

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GamerOverlord Author Profile Page February 16, 2010 7:32 PM

Great game!!! Super fun to play!! A+++++!!! Definatly one of my favorites!!!!

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I found this game quite fun - it had an ending, which is always good. I hate those games that go on and on and on..... -_-
I was trying to get all the achievements, and I managed to get 19... Has anyone ever gotten all 20?

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Yeah, I just got my balloon to 99.9% and didn't leave until I bought and fully upgraded EVERYTHING. I'm a completionist like that. All acheivements, w00t. My only complaint is that this game becomes too easy once you buy the Assault rifle. The Boompipe isn't really that good. Also, the turrets are practically useless, even with three fully upgraded ones. I'm looking forward to a sequel, perhaps with a piercing gun or something?

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Knife Guru Author Profile Page February 20, 2010 9:09 PM

needs 3 things
better balance
better day system
multiple towers

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this game is easy i was messing about and glitched it when you jump press sleep and when you get back up you float in mid air jump again and do the same until you get really high so they cant hurt you but they stay under you and dont leave so you can kill them all and the truck stops under you too so you dont need to come down

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Relatively easy. In fact, too easy. Finished on Day 2 at about 3 pm with no problem whatsoever. And I only slept in the fort once.

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Anonymous July 30, 2010 1:06 PM

the game is very easy just shoot the creatures and repair that all you really need to do.
oh by the way theres this glitch were you jump then sleep in mid air and if you repeat enough you are at the top of the screen.

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