King & Balloon

Arcade Video game published 43 years ago by NAMCO, Ltd.

Listed in MAME

King & Balloon screenshot

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 by Namco in October 1980 in Japan and by GamePlan in December 1980 in the USA.

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.


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

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

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

usa Arcade (2018) "Pac-Man's Pixel Bash"


Game's ROM.
Game's picture.