Platform: DOS; Apple II; Amiga; et. al
Jeff O’Neill’s first game with Infocom pits the player in a circus mystery involving a kidnapping and a cast of crazy characters. O’Neill certainly brings forth his vision of the shady underbelly of circus life, and there are several puzzles apropos to the atmosphere (e.g. getting across a tightrope, taming some lions, etc.). However, the mystery itself is highly convoluted and not all that interesting.
It becomes very difficult, even early, to determine exactly what’s going on, and several puzzles related to the mystery are barely clued and can be solved with only limited understanding of the situation at hand. Worse yet, there are bugs that require practically restarting the game. Despite several sprinkles of humor and ingenuity, Ballyhoo is simply too frustrating and not worthy of play unless you must complete your Infocom collection.