Cursed Balloons is a free browser game in which the player shoots arrows at the rising helium globes at the right of the screen. The object is to hit every balloon of certain colors while avoiding others, and your ammunition is limited in every level. Games like this have quite a long history. The oldest I can think of off the top of my head is Bow and Arrow, a Windows 3.1 title. They have become even more common in recent years as the popularity of in-browser casual games increased. Cursed Balloons is more challenging and aesthetically pleasing than most.
Despite having the appearance of a casual game and despite the simple controls, Cursed Balloons requires near-perfect play on most levels, and it has a short supply of lives. I found this a great feature absent in too many games lately. Most Flash games you see are casual dreck designed to goad the player into a hollow victory; Cursed Balloons actually tests your skill and sends you back to level 1 if you fail too many times, meaning there is a real penalty for failure despite the game’s short length.
There are powerups including extra arrows, bombs, and slowdowns (the latter of which only effect the red balloons you’re supposed to avoid, and are necessary for completing some levels). This adds a bit of complexity and challenge, as few of these powerups are superfluous. With your limited arrows, you must make judicious use of both them and the special balloons. Mash buttons and lose; you have to do it right.
There are 15 levels total; too few for something this enjoyable. I was hoping for a boss battle against Son Wukong at the end, but the puzzle of the final level will have to suffice. I’d love to see a sequel from the author with hundreds of levels, more powerups, and some drastically harder bonus levels. Adding some much-needed content would bulk up this game’s longevity. I could easily see a tablet version, too; the controls would actually work with that hardware.
A lot of the other games on the linked website have art assets obviously stolen from other popular franchises, but that’s not a mark against Cursed Balloons. As long as we’re getting festooned with basic flash games, more of them should be like Cursed Balloons. It not ugly, it doesn’t pander to undesirables or insult the player’s intelligence. I just wish there was more of it. Here’s to the creator’s good future in game making.