Balloon in a Wasteland
Why 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.