Clowns and Balloons
Several epochs ago, when I was a lowly undergraduate, arcade games were just beginning to use video screens. I remember an early one called Circus, and that it sat between Tank and Pong in the student union. Ah, those were the days.
"Oh, no," was my first thought when I loaded Clowns and Balloons, also from Datasoft. An exhumation of Circus: where is author Frank Cohen's respect for the moribund?
This report was exaggerated; I was dead wrong. This may very well be the most addictive game I have seen since Threshold.
In Clowns and Balloons, you manipulate a trampoline, shooting your player ever higher, as you try to break as many balloons as you can in your trajectory across the screen. The concept is simple, but play is not. You must anticipate where to move that trampoline at all times. Otherwise, in the flick of an eye, your player will land in a headfirst heap on the floor.
Stone Age devotees of the black and white coin-op Circus will especially appreciate the sophistication of Clowns and Balloons. The trampoline is carried by two silver-haired clowns, whose outsized shoes scamper wildly as they run from side to side. The balloons spin and shimmer as they glide across the screen, and they do so in vibrant colors.
The music, as in Canyon Climber, is superb. Even after I landed on my head, I found myself humming along with it. Again, all factors work together to form an "atmosphere" about the game. It is as if it were a cartoon rather than a computer representation. It works very nicely.
It was easy enough for me to predict that my bevy of kid playsters would go nuts for Clowns and Balloons. They liked it nearly as much as I do. Fortunately, they belong to someone else, so I can play to my heart's content after they have gone home to eat dinner. Three levels of difficulty keep the action at a "breakneck" pace.