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Ballyhoo

by Jeff O'Neill

Mystery
1985

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Number of Reviews: 4
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful, intricate, intimidating story and puzzles. Better than Sorceror., February 3, 2016
I rushed through Ballyhoo, but even so the story was marvelous and stunning. This is a mystery game set in a dreary circus. The feel is a lot like Not Just and Ordinary Ballerina. You investigate the disappearance of the owner's daughter after hours.

This game could have been played without hints for a month. The puzzle solutions are intricate and the world is detailed.

I relied on hints out of fear that there was way too much I could do wrong. In fact, almost everything is reversible, once you reach an area, you get unlimited chances to return. If not, you don't need to return. The game was shockingly forgiving.

Unfortunately, the walkthrough may have been necessary simply because of guess-the-verb problems, especially with conversations.

The much-feared dream sequence is very easy to map and overcome (the lines situation was harder for me).

This is a fantastic game, the name and blurb really turned me off, but this game was more fun than the Lurking Horror or Sorceror.

**Edit:** I've been asked to clarify what I mean by better than Sorceror (or Lurking Horror). As I considered why I used that comparison, I realized that there are many parallels between Ballyhoo and Sorceror: both contain a dark carnival, both are centered on searching for a missing person, both have a pair of gatekeeper puzzles, many wild animals etc. In both, you slowly develop into an expert in the skills that surround you (magic or circus abilities), and the humor and writing are similar.

Why do I prefer Ballyhoo? It condenses the map of Sorceror, and has far more NPCs and interesting, scripted events, as well as far less red herrings. It has more feeling, too. In Ballyhoo, when you are in (Spoiler - click to show)Eddie's trailer and he realises you aren't a clown, I felt real anxiety for my character, and when (Spoiler - click to show)you break through Tina's shell and she solemnly shakes your hand, I felt a tug on my heartstrings. Contrast this to Sorceror's over the top 'scary moments' like (Spoiler - click to show)burning in flame forever or its few moments of pathos (Spoiler - click to show)which I can't even think of; perhaps giving up your spellbook?.

As for lurking horror, I'm just still mad about the Chinese food puzzle. It's actually a great game.

Comments on this review

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<blank>, September 28, 2015 - Reply
Careful with "Better than Sorceror" and "More fun than Lurking Horror and Sorcerer". The three games you mentioned are completely different, and although it's useful for us to know that you had more fun with Ballyhoo, it would be more helpful to know why. I would make sense for me to compare, for instance, Sorceror to Planetfall (same author and design style), or Infidel to Cutthroats (same "Tales of Adventure"), or Seastalker to Moonmist to Wishbringer ("Introductory level IF").

If you're going to make those comparisons, I'd encourage you to expand. There was something about the overall experience of Ballyhoo (mystery/comedy/wordplay) that you found superior to The Lurking Horror (Lovecraftian) and Sorcerer (comedic traditional adventure game). What would that be?
MathBrush, September 28, 2015 - Reply
Thanks for your comments! I had a lot of fun considering why I compared the two games, and what I found better. I've added my thoughts on that topic to actual review.
<blank>, September 28, 2015 - Reply
Your review is the better for it. :) Thanks!
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