So when I write these things, the speed at which I get through them varies drastically with how fun the game itself is. A lot of ZZT worlds, even ones I have positive memories of, unfortunately don't really hold up too well today. (It's why I'm always a fan when a game is short.)
As somebody who never learns my lesson and keeps picking games I know nothing about, I am really pleased to say that Baloo Episode 1, The Thunder Road turned out to actually be an incredible experience. It showed up in the upload queue a few days before writing, and I was immediately curious. Were we talking about a game starring Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book? A cursory glance through some of the boards in the file viewer revealed that this was something greater, a game starring Baloo the bear from the Disney TV series TaleSpin. Like Sonic The Hedgehog Part 1, these sort of ZZT worlds typically are a mess to play, but thanks to their frequently bizarre stories and depictions of popular characters, make for some great livestream material.
When I hit "P", and decided to play for a minute to see if this might be a good game to stream I was immediately hooked and just started taking screenshots. I haven't wanted to play a ZZT world so strongly in some time. As a young child I saw a reasonable amount of TaleSpin, but was never really a fan. I saw so much primarily because of an older sibling who enjoyed it more than I did. The good news is that Baloo certainly doesn't require you to have a deep understanding of the cartoon. It is something wonderful in the way it bends these characters' personalities.
A lot of ZZT games would take this in an edgy direction, and to some degree that is what's happening here. Baloo is going to be swearing a lot, sure, yet the writing has a lot more to it than "what if I made Disney characters say 'ass'" that so many parodies of children's entertainment seems to think is enough to be clever. This is less TaleSpin with naughty words, and honestly if there's anything to compare its tone to, it's probably the Grand Theft Auto series. (And I mean that in a good way.)
Baloo Episode 1, The Thunder RoadBy: Jerry Ellis
Published Under: Gin Software
Released: November 11, 1997
Download | Play Online | View Files
The title screen is very unassuming. A very nice pastel border surrounds a basic sky gradient with the basic information on the game. The title screen for Baloo starts things off very muted. This is a very straightforward title screen that doesn't do much to give any insight as to what sort of game you're looking at. The subtitle is meaningless, the author is unnamed until the credits, and the company "Gin Software" has no other known releases. (I can only hope there are more to be found later. This is like when I played The Cliff and immediately dedicated the next several streams to playing more John Shipley games.) You really have little to go by until you start playing.
"Hey Baloo, whats going down?"
ain't open yet."
night. Say Baloo I was thinking."
I'm short 1000 gems."
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