The Game: You’re piloting a balloon-toting brat around an amusement park. Ride the rides! Slide down the slide! Crawl under the trees and play! But watch out for that balloon – the thing is vital to your survival! Don’t let it get popped against the trees, or the rides, or the walls of the amusement park. Worse yet, a cloud may appear at the side of the screen and blow your balloon away, forcing you to run after it and catch it before it collides with something and pops. Birds will also fly over the park, and they can pop your balloon too. Even if you’re not holding onto it at the time, the balloon popping ends your game. (Frankly, this reliance on the balloon seems to be a bit unhealthy, and will probably lead the game’s kid to be a shut-in with another inflatable friend by the time he’s 40.) (Phillips, 1983)
Memories: Released in Europe as Loony Balloon, Balao Travesso! is essentially a near-beer version of the late 70s Taito arcade game Crazy Balloon – only, quite frankly, Balao Travesso! has more elaborate graphics than the arcade game (who here thought they’d ever be reading that about an Odyssey2 game?). In this way, this Brazilian release is part of the same tradition that gave us such games as K.C. Munchkin, Pick Axe Pete and Alien Invaders – Plus!: approximate a popular arcade game without getting close enough to draw a lawsuit. (Well, okay, maybe K.C. Munchkin should be excluded from that category…)
Balao Travesso! is actually a lot of fun, and exasperating too! Just when you’ve gotten the little kid (and his balloon) to the exit, it seems like there’s always a bird or that big windy face (a hilariously cheerful character custom-drawn without the usual Odyssey2 fixed character set) lurking, just ready to send your balloon to its demise. It’s hard to clear so much as a single level in this game, and yet it’s addictive enough to keep you trying. My one big beef with Balao Travesso! is the length of time it takes for the game to reset when your balloon pops. The further up the screen you are vertically, the longer it takes the detached string of your balloon to fall off the bottom of the screen. Now, during this long, slow plummet, the kid throws a tantrum and pounds the ground, and that’s funny, but it takes a bit too long – it’s not like the golfer’s brief club-throwing explosion in Computer Golf!.
That aside, Balao Travesso is tremendous fun, a surefire nomination for the “digital crack” category of games you’re only going to play one more time, and next thing you know, it’s two hours later and the cats are still complaining about their empty food bowl.
Not that I speak from experience or anything, mind you.