Balloons are useful for a number of amusing distractions.
There's the classic trick of bursting one behind an unsuspecting friend. There's the hilarious technique whereby the ballonneer releases air from the rubber bauble in such a way as to make titter-inducing flatulence noises. There's even the classic breathing-in of helium to fuel chipmunk-esque acapellas.
None of those fun balloon-based activities makes an appearance in Popping Mania. In fact, not much fun appears at all, as you'll spend most of your time in this attempt at a racy puzzle game yawning.
Snap, crackle and pop
In the game's main mode you take control of a small becapped youth, hanging by an adjustable cord from a tree branch. The aim is to use your catapult to fire a limited number of darts at balloons as they're released by your terra firma-based companion.
The gas-filled party orbs float skyward at ever increasing speeds, and in ever larger numbers as the levels progress.
You advance through the game's levels by bursting set numbers of balloons with limited numbers of darts.
As you progress there are also a few inexplicable floating blocks that obscure your line of sight and make the act of maintaining careful aim that little but more difficult.
Not quite maniacal
While Popping Mania also includes a Challenge mode, in which you're tasked with popping balloons of specific colours, there's a distinct lack of variety and, ultimately, fun.
The gameplay mechanic of simply moving up and down quickly wears thin, and progression soon becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.
The colourful backdrop never changes and there are no unlockable features or stages to look forward to.
There's nothing innately wrong with game. Its control scheme is tight and responsive, its cartoonish style isn't awful, and it has a clear progression system.
But Popping Mania fails in the most fundamental of game requirements: it's simply not fun.
In my dictionary, 'mania' is defined as 'excessive or unreasonable enthusiasm'. That means Popping Mania's title is only half accurate - there's plenty of popping, but almost no mania.