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Video Game / Starshot: Space Circus Fever

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Starshot: Space Circus Fever is a 1998 action platformer game for the Nintendo 64 and PC developed by Infogrames.

The Space Circus led by Starcash is on bad times as they not only are on the verge of a deathly explosive bankruptcy but are also being sabotaged by the Virtua Circus owned by Wolfgang Von Ravel, a nefarious man known for stealing galactical landmarks and eradicating endangered species to charge admission for seeing virtualizations of them.

Former war weapon and juggler Starshot is then sent by Starcash on a journey for valuable items they can use on their circus act to pay off their debts, all while Virtua Circus tails them on every step of the way.

The game's cutscenes and soundtrack are different between the two versions, and the PC soundtrack has been made available for free. Also read this interview for a look into the game's development and the cancelled 2002 plans for a movie.

Do remember to set Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode on if playing the PC version, as the 2020 release on Steam doesn't warn customers about that at all.

Tropes featured in Starshot: Space Circus Fever:

  • After the End: Earth has been destroyed by an alien invasion and the location Starshot visits is a ruined Ghost Town beneath a blood-red sky. It is the most bleak-looking stage in the game with very little comedy until Starshot finds from a duo of pacifist martians what motivated the war.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Inverted with the titular hero, who is a war weapon that contracted a virus that gave him a conscience.
    • The robots in Technomummy want to replace the brains of their organic masters out of a misguided desire to rid them of their flaws.
  • All There in the Manual: There's character info in the manual you don't get in the game proper, such as Starshot being one of multiple Starcrushers, who are meant to be soulless super soldiers. The end of the manual also has hints for a Guide Dang It! moment for each level, including the solutions for the first two phases of the final boss.
  • And I Must Scream: The manual states Starcash is actually imprisoned inside the control room of Space Circus for some reason.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite saving the Space Circus ship, Starshot is captured offscreen after having seemingly defeated Wolfgang, who then swears revenge on Starcash after driving him off with a message from a Starshot hologram.
  • Black Comedy: The game revolves around this, with every planet visited by Starshot being some hilariously horrible place to be in. Even the bleak Earth level has moments of this once it is stated that the Martians destroyed the planet on a whim just to imitate mankind's alien invasion movies, which they still watch on the big screen as the hero moves across a ruined city.
  • Border Patrol: On Tensuns and Killer Expo, swimming too far will spawn an enemy that will insta-kill Starshot.
  • Cap: You can have 8 HP, 50 shots and 40 seconds for flight.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The scanners used by Virtua Circus to record the bird on Primitron is used to scan Starshot during the final fight to create five holograms of him. Another hologram is used to fool Starcash after Starshot is inexplicably captured after the final battle.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Starcash chews Starshot and Willfall out if they return from an uncleared mission and then again if they just head back right after.
  • Crapsack World: Most of the planets seen in the story are some variety of this trope, such as the Killer Expo of war machines, the Ultimacrash populated by ghosts and the post-apocalyptic Earth with a single surviving human.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The game ends with Starshot in captivity from out of nowhere. The implication is that, it being Virtua Circus and all, the final battle didn't actually happen.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Thankfully there are plenty of checkpoints to alleviate the game's high difficuty and flaws, though dying will reset Starshot's ammo and flight fuel.
  • Escort Mission:
    • On Primitron, Starshot must chase a pink robot around to push it towards trees that must be watered to grow and be used as catapults, bridges and platforms. At certain spots, tourists must be pushed into the abyss to keep them from driving the robot away.
    • The gimmick is used again on Virtua Circus, where a robot that makes dog noises must be carefully pushed towards flamethrowers in order to have it deactivate them.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Wolfgang has eyes on the end of his thin tentacle arms.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: To access Earth, at least 100 Mega Fuel items must be collected in the previous stages. There is no reward for collecting every single one.
  • Flame Spewer Obstacle: There are surface-mounted flamethrowers on Virtua Circus that shoot out jets of flame. The player needs to guide a robot around to deactivate these.
  • Helpful Mook: The giant bipedal robots on Earth malfunction and help Starshot as platforms if you trick them into detonating the missiles lying on certain spots.
  • Hint System: There are balloon devices in the first half of the game that give hints on the game's controls and puzzles.
  • Idle Animation: While idle, Starshot will fiddle with those ear things on his costume. After some time, Willfall will complain that he'll get them both killed by loafing around like that.
  • Kick the Dog: The Surprise Laying Bird that Starshot is sent to capture on Primitron is scanned and then killed by Virtua Circus robots. Wolfgang gloats to Starcash that he delights in exterminating rare creatures so that only virtualizations of them remain to be displayed on his stage.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Nope. Have fun dying to multiple quick hits in a variety of situations.
  • Mooks, but no Bosses: The game has no proper boss fights until Wolfgang on Virtua Circus.
  • Murder Simulators: Parodied with the reason why the martians destroyed Earth — they were influenced by 50's scifi films to create actual war machines and take over the planet For the Lulz.
  • Opening the Sandbox: After clearing the linear Tensuns and the more complex Killer Expo, Technomummy, Ultimacrash and Primitron can be played in any order.
  • The Perfectionist: Technomummy is a planet of flawless technology... with a museum of malfunctioning devices that people sick of the machines' perpetual aid are hysterically enjoying, such as a dripping faucet, a cold shower, an ATM machine that eats cards and the coveted Malfunction Machine that does everything wrong. By the end, the so-called perfect robots decide to wipe all of that off and replace the brains of their masters to turn them perfect as well.
  • Point of No Return: Accessing the final boss prevents the player from returning to Space Circus, and beating the game locks the save file into the ending cutscene, forcing the player to start a new file to play again.
  • Platform Hell: A lot of the game involves platforming on narrow platforms over bottomless pits — with the camera jerking around at inopportune times as well.
  • Press X to Die: While walking over the Virtua Circus' hull, jumping causes Starshot to fly off into the cold vacuum of space. The game doesn't warn of this beforehand at all.
  • Sequel Hook: The game closes on a particularly annoying cliffhanger as a "THE END?" text crashes over the screen. Guess what, no sequel was ever made — and according to the developers there wasn't one in mind at the time to begin with.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • The ability to fly with Willfly can be exploited to skip some setpieces.
    • There are a number of glitches and mechanic exploits to skip huge chunks of the game, such as triggering the Robot That Watches TV without even entering Killer Expo, enabling the final Event Flag of Ultimacrash by jumping into the last checkpoint or jumping over the laser walls at Earth to skip the entire level.
  • Sequential Boss: Wolfgang Von Ravel is first fought on a flying mech that is only vulnerable to trick shots into its back side. The villain then flies around the sets of platforms on the arena and must be knocked into the electrified pillars between them. Finally, he goes back to the main arena and deploys five Starshot clones from the drones that had just scanned him.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • The bird Starshot is sent to capture at Primitron is killed by Virtua Circus goons at the very end of the level.
    • That bomb robot from the intergalactic bank? Actually a Virtua Circus spy all too happy to gobble up the cash from the show towards the end of the story. And then Starshot manages to somehow get himself captured offscreen after the final battle.
  • Sigil Spam: Get used to seeing the Virtua Circus' red V logo with an eyeball on top every so often.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: The last surviving earthling was too busy writing a novel on his basement to notice all the turmoil going on outside, and even after he's told what happened he's only bothered that nobody remains to read his work.
  • Super-Speed: There are devices at Technomummy that empower Starshot's speed, but in practice it's the enemies and the game's soundtrack that slow down. Towards the end of the stage Starshot is required to use the one from the Speed Lab to outrun a gate that guards another building.
  • Victory Dance: Starshot shouts a YEAH and does a little dance upon clearing a stage.
  • Video Game Flight: Willfly the rocket robot follows Starshot all the time but can only carry him after collecting Flight Capsules which add up to 40 seconds of flight time. It's possible to skip some of the level designs with this, assuming you don't end up dying from something and losing the powerups before figuring that out.
  • Villains Out Shopping: At Earth, a group of aliens is seen too busy watching movies to attack Starshot.
  • Your Size May Vary: When first spotted at Tensuns, Virtua Circus is a sizable flying brick. When Starshot sets foot upon it at the end of the game, the vessel is much larger and has a whole level sculpted around it.