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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

Whether it's complete and utter coincidence, whether great minds think alike, or whether one pinched the idea from the other, it's remarkable that TWO arcade games based on the circus should appear in the same month; especially since there are hardly any circuses left in operation in real life. I mean, you wouldn't expect anyone to do an Olde-Tyme Variety Music Hall would you?

What's remarkable about Circus Games - if anything can be said to be remarkable about it - is that it's a licence. Yes, the famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey "Greatest Show on Earth" has singled out Tynesoft for the honour of having their name on the cover of Circus Games; they obviously don't know as much about Speccy games as they do about mucking out tigers.

What we have here is a collection of four events. You can quit any one and move on to the next load if you wish, but obviously to finish the game you must succeed in all four events; Tiger Taming, High Wire, Trapeze and Trick Horse Riding (that's doing tricks while riding a horse, not a funny collapsing animal).

The graphics are unremarkable throughout, and the music is hideous, which is a bit of a shock since it's by David Whittaker. The first event, Tiger Taming, is particularly poor. The aim is to make the tigers perform three tricks; you have a whip and a chair, and must keep all three under control if you hope to escape uneaten. The tricks vary from making the tigers walk through tubes, to walking them from one side of the cage to the other; very exciting, you'll agree.

The next event, Trapeze, is a bit better; left and right makes you swing higher on the trapeze, fire makes you jump to the other trapeze and perform a somersault. It's unfortunate that the animation is too slow to make things very thrilling.

Event three, Tightrope, COULD have been interesting. It features a split-screen display, and demands that you move across the tightrope while balancing your big pole (oo-er). In the middle you have to perform a somersault, which is tricky as you tend to lose your balance on landing. Tightrope is quite good fun; pity there isn't a bit more to it.

Lastly and leastly, Trick Horse Riding. Here, you balance a stunted Christmas-tree fairy on the slowest-moving horse you've ever seen. Her task is to avoid custard pies thrown by the clown, to jump through hoops and so on.

After completing all the events you load the Menu section to display your high score, but frankly dears I wouldn't bother. There's nothing in Circus Games to really make you want to get involved - though Circus Circus from Martech is superficially similar, it's a whole lot better than this bag of tricks.

Label: Tynesoft
Author: Subway Software
Price: £8.95/£14.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Not the greatest show on earth by a long shot.