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Video Game / Circus

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Circus is a 1977 arcade game by Exidy, which was ported to the Atari 2600 in 1980 as Circus Atari by Atari. The arcade version was also distributed by Taito under the title Acrobat and cloned by Bally/Midway as Clowns. An Atari 7800 homebrew remake called Super Circus Atari Age was developed and published by AtariAge.

In the game, the player controls a seesaw which is used to keep a pair of acrobats bouncing in the air to pop three rows of balloons moving across the top of the screen. To catch an acrobat, he must land on the unoccupied side of the seesaw, which then sends his associate into the air, depending on what angle of the seesaw the acrobat lands on. If the player fails to catch the acrobat, he will land on the ground and go splat.

The original arcade game is currently freely and legally available for download to use on the M.A.M.E. emulator.

This game provides examples of

  • Attract Mode: A basic one, displaying "Game Over," the current high score and some automatic gameplay.
  • Breaking Out: It's a variation on Breakout.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Cellophane overlays in the arcade version gave each row of balloons a different color. This also provided a handy key to the scoring: each blue balloon on the top row was worth twice as many points as a green balloon from the middle row and five times as many as a yellow balloon from the bottom row.
  • Endless Game: You play until you run out of turns.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: According to the manual, the jumpers are supposed to be clowns, though in the game they look like generic stick figures.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: The game's premise is nothing more than that implied by its title, and Scoring Points is the only objective.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The game plays the celebration tune Tarara-Boom-De-Ay if the player earns a bonus. Losing a life causes the game to play two measures of the funeral march in Frédéric Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2.
  • Scoring Points: For each balloon popped, plus bonus points (and even an extra turn) by popping an entire row of balloons.

Alternative Title(s): Circus Atari