King & Balloon

Arcade Video game published 42 years ago by NAMCO

King & Balloon screenshot

Listed and emulated in MAME.

King & Balloon © 1980 Namco.

The player controls two green men (likely soldiers in the king's army) with an orange cannon that fires at squads of descending balloons. You must protect the King and prevent him from being captured and carried away by one of the balloons. Unlike most shooter games, the player's cannon can be hit and destroyed any number of times; it is the King that must be protected. The game ends when the king is carried away three times.


Main CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 3.072 Mhz)
Sound CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 2.5 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Tone generator, discrete circuits, and a DAC for speech

Players : 2
Control : 2-way joystick
Buttons : 1 (FIRE)


King & Balloon was released in October 1980 in Japan by Namco. It was released in North America by GamePlan the same year.

King & Balloon is the first game from Namco to feature voices.

Kevin Olkowski holds the official record for this game with 48900 points.


The voices differed between Japanese and U.S. versions. In the Japanese version, the abducted king yelled 'Help! Help!', but with heavy Japanese pronunciation, sounding more like 'Herupuu!'. In the U.S. version, the voice was redone as a more English-sounding 'Help!'.


On single balloons, first score is in formation, second score diving or rising, third score is rising with King in tow.
Red Balloons : 50, 100, 150
Orange Balloons : 40, 80, 120
Yellow Balloons : 30, 60, 90
White balloons : 20, 40, 60

On combination balloons, first score is first hit, second score is second hit, third score is third hit. First color is balloon color, second color is line/gondola color
Red/White : 500, 1,000, 1,500
Orange/Yellow : 400, 600, 1,000
Yellow/Orange : 300, 500, 700
White/Red : 200, 300, 500


* A player can easily top 100,000 or more on this game using two basic tactics: maximizing the points available, and ensuring the cannon is always best placed to destroy any balloon that grabs the king. Since all cannons are expendable, success often depends on their deliberate tactical destruction.

* Keep an eye out for the giant balloon. These balloons are worth more point than regular balloons. Shooting it once makes it become a medium-sized balloon, and shooting it a second time reverts it back to being a normal balloon.

* Giant balloons never appear by themselves - there will always be at least one small balloon on the screen at the same time. As soon as you see a giant balloon start to form, let a normal balloon destroy your cannon as soon as possible. This should give you enough grace time when you reappear to fire three shots at the giant balloon for 3000 points, and then position yourself correctly if there is a balloon attempting to abduct the king. It is possible to destroy 5 or 6 giant balloons by per level, gaining you around 20,000 points.

* Try to keep the level going as long as possible unless you're down to your last 6 balloons - at this point giant balloons rarely from.

* Just like Galaxian, the game only goes up to round 48. If round 48 is completed, the game will continue to work but will always report the level as 48.


[JP] Sony PlayStation (oct.30, 1997) "Namco Museum Encore [Model SLPS-01050]"
Microsoft XBOX 360 [US] (nov.4, 2008) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade [Model 21022]"
[EU] Microsoft XBOX 360 (may.15, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade"
[AU] Microsoft XBOX 360 (june.4, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade"
[JP] Microsoft XBOX 360 (nov.5, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade [Model 2RD-00001]"
[US] Nintendo Wii (nov.16, 2010) "Namco Museum Megamix"

[US] Sony PSP (aug.23, 2005) "Namco Museum Battle Collection [Model ULUS-10035]"
[EU] Sony PSP (dec.9, 2005) "Namco Museum Battle Collection [Model UCES-00116]"
[JP] Sony PSP (feb.23, 2006) "Namco Museum Vol.2 [Model ULJS-00047]"
[KO] Sony PSP (nov.8, 2007) "Namco Museum Vol.2"

[JP] MSX (1984)
[EU] MSX (1984) by Bug-Byte
[JP] PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (dec.24, 1998) "Namco History Vol.4"

[US] Arcade (2018) "Pac-Man's Pixel Bash"


Game's ROM.
Game's picture.