Mobile Game: Balloon Run

Balloon Run (screenshot)
I love simple, fast paced games. They are fun to play, and they are fun to make. I have made a few endless runners in the past, and now I give you “Balloon Run”.

Keep your hot air balloon flying! Stay in the air for as long, as you can. Gravity will pull you down, and using the thruster will make you go up. Birds, planes and more will come at you, and may damage your balloon. Get hit one too many times, and you fall out of the sky. Game over.

While I admit being inspired by the Flappy Bird phenomenon, I wanted Balloon Run to be its own and not just another clone. For one, here you find your own path past the obstacles coming at you, as opposed to trying to stay within a single, narrow path. It’s up to you, to find the safest route. Secondly, since you are controlling a ballon, it made sense that as long as you hold the thrust down, you should keep ascending. It’s also not super fast going up, so thinking ahead is necessary.

I also added a few other favorite game elements, like health (“hearts”) and power-ups. There are three small balloons that occasionally appear on the screen. The blue one gives you a 20 point boost, the red heart-shaped balloon restores health, and the green balloon gives you a protective shield, lasting a few seconds. Each game is different, randomly generated within increasingly tough parameters.

Balloon Run (screenshot)

Birds, hang gliders and air planes are all out to get you!

I wanted a game that took a more than just a few seconds to play. For inspiration, I thought of pinball, in terms of how long each game might take, and the practice-makes-perfect element. Practice will make you better at playing Balloon Run.

The game took about 30 hours to make, including the time I spent looking for royalty free sound effects, doodling graphics in Photoshop, and writing this blog post. It is available for free in the Apple App Store, it does have ads, and an option to get rid of those ads with an in-app purchase. Naturally, global leaderboards are supported. The game will also be available for Android, once I have a setup for ads on that platform.

Balloon Run came about as a side project. I made it fueled largely by surplus (nervous?) energy, coming from being in the final phases of putting together my much larger game, Salvage Trader. I was waiting for some of the last graphics to come in, during which I felt creatively restless, and that sort of made me crank this little gem out. Still, I’m surprised it came together so quickly.

Balloon Run - prototype

Here is a very early iteration of Balloon Run, when it was mostly a test of the concept. Almost everything was redone and tweaked several times.