Probably best described as the missing link between Galaxian and Galaga, Namco's King & Balloon came into Japanese arcades in 1980. The object of the game was to protect the king from being captured and taken away by the rogue balloons by shooting said balloons out of the sky, hence the title. The game didn't do the numbers that Galaxian and Galaga did, but it did do well enough to get Game Plan to distribute it in North America. Also, this was Namco's first game to use digitized voice, by way of a seperate sound chip just for the voices. Most people remember Bosconian as the first wide-release game to have voice, but this was the game that they used to test the ability to do so.

King & Balloon has mostly lived on more as a list item than as a cornerstone of gaming history, even though it did bring a couple of new things to the table. More than a some heavily vaunted games have, at least. The game never did spawn a sequel. As a matter of fact it was years before the game came around on a home platform. Other than emulation via MAME, it's only been released in two formats: Namco History Volume 4 for Windows and Namco Museum Encore for Playstation.

Pac-Man -- Tank Battalion

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