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Clowns & Balloons – A Nightmare Inducing Game

Back in 1985, there were few things a normal child would want more for Christmas than a Nintendo Entertainment System. The dream of having Mario dash across the screen of my living room television was all consuming and every day in December of 1985, I would drop hints to my parents that this gift from Santa would be particularly well-received.

Unfortunately, that dream was not to be and it was decided that an older model Tandy TRS80 would be a much better investment for their child’s future. I lived in a rural area and had little access to libraries or information about programming and the book that came with the computer didn’t really help me on my journey to become a master coder.

The only game I had was Clowns & Balloons, a 1982 release that featured clowns jumping on a trampoline and popping balloons with a needle- not a particularly safe pursuit. They would start out at a relatively slow clip as Entry of the Gladiators played in the background. Then the action would speed up, along with the music and the jumping clowns would be thrown into a frenzy of jumping and popping balloons.

It was amusing at first and I spent hours improving and soon the soundtrack followed me to sleep and I began dreaming about the clowns. Why were they jumping? What was the point of popping the balloons? Make the music stop!

At a certain point in January 1986, I packed up my TRS80 forever and never looked at the cursed game cartridge again. The next Christmas, I got my Nintendo Entertainment System. It was at this point, dear reader, that my life changed forever.

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