It has been some time since I sat down and wrote something on one of my games. I thought I’d try my hand at it again. Today I’d like tell you about an arcade game called Circus that was released by Exidy in 1977. Exidy’s Circus was the companies biggest hit of the seventies. I’ve read they produced over 13,000 of them and some sources say that number maybe a little low.
That is quite a run for a 1970’s game. For contrast the pretty popular Sprint II’s run is said to be 8,200 and Super Bug’s run was 3,500. They also licensed the game to other arcade companies of the time so you may have seen Taito’s Acrobat and Midway’s Clowns. I believe it safe to say that Circus was inspired by Atari’s Breakout. They share a lot of the same ideas but with enough of a twist to make it feel like a different game and not just a copy.
Let’s dive in to the game play. In Circus the object you control is the seesaw at the bottom of the screen. One side of the seesaw has a clown on it and the other side is empty. When you start the game the a second clown appears on one of the platforms on the side of the screen, He will walk to the end and leap off trusting that you will have positioned the empty side of the seesaw to catch him which will in turn propel the other clown up towards the three rows of balloons so he can pop them and collect the points. He will then fall back down were you will need to catch him and the process repeats. If the clown hits the side walls or the platforms he will somersault off it. If you fail to catch him he will hit the ground and flatten into a small puddle and you lose a life. A clown’s life if pretty hard here at this circus.
You receive points for every bounce you make and every balloon you pop. You will also receive bonuses for either popping a full row of balloons (row bonus) or for popping all balloons (super bonus) depending on the game mode that is chosen, more on that later.
Exidy’s Circus Points “single row mode”
- 20 points per yellow balloon / 200 points for full row
- 50 points per green balloon / 500 points for full row
- 100 points per blue balloon / 1000 points for full row + Bonus jump
Exidy’s Circus Points “super bonus mode”
- 10 points per bounce
- 20 points per yellow balloon
- 50 points per green balloon
- 100 points per blue balloon
- 10,000 points for popping all balloons
The play mode was selected by the owner of the game. The difference was that when you popped a full row of balloons in the single mode you would get your row bonus and then a new row will appear. In super mode no new balloon appear after they are popped until you have popped all the balloons and then you’d get the super bonus. Alright that’s my explanation now if you want to see it in action please check out the video below.
Exidy’s Circus Gameplay
I imagine there are a lot of you familiar with this game in one form or another as it was also ported to a number of consoles. I remember playing on my Atari 2600 under the title of Circus Atari, Brickyard Clowns for the Bally Astrocade and P.T. Barnum’s Acrobats for the Magnavox Odyssey 2. I hope you enjoyed a look at this early arcade game and if you happen to see a Circus or one of its variants out there at your arcade you should drop a quarter in and give it a play.