Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category

circus1   The clown goes up, the clown comes down, but don’t let him splat his guts all over the ground. That’s the essence of Exidy’s Circus, one of the many amazing video games from my youth.

I was a sensitive kid. In the 1970s and 80s, I lacked the predator-like aggressiveness so common among my peers. As such, I immersed myself in the many forms of escapism that sensitive kids turned to in those days. This meant Dungeons & Dragons, music, and of course, video games. Destroying digital enemies provided the sense of dominance I was lacking in the real world.

As such, I fondly remember arcade games from the 1980s.

Someone Told me About a Video Game Called Circus
I first heard about the video game Circus on the school bus. There were these two brothers – Marvelous Marv and DJ Chien – who were the epitome of cool. At least to me, they were. They were into all the things cool, such as martial arts, fantasy role-playing games, and video games. I hung on their every word and tried so hard to become their friend.

It was Marvelous who gave me the 411. As he described it, the game involved two clowns on a teeter totter or seesaw. You bounced one up into the air and tried to pop as many balloons as you could. But you had to catch him on the teeter totter as he came back down. “If you miss,” Marvelous said, “he splats on the ground and makes a sound that would gross out a pig!” I became intrigued.

Playing Circus at Circus World in the Genesee Valley Center
Marvelous gave me the 411 on Circus. It was just inside a toy store called Circus World (ironically) in the Genesee Valley Mall. This meant that I actually had a chance to play it. Being the scapegoat of the family, my parents wouldn’t just take me to an arcade. They would let me take my brother – the golden child – to Circus World, though. (He deserved a new toy each week, after all.) I devised my evil plan.

I was well prepared that day we went to Circus World. Being the fashion whore that he was, my father was likely to spend hours at Robert David Allen. Likewise, our mom would was purchasing something from every woman’s fashion store outside Hudson’s. “Sure Mom! I’ll take (my brother) to Circus World.” I’m surprised she didn’t hear the quarters jingling and clanking together in my pocket as I ran.

I Finally Got to Play Circus
I’ll bet you’re wondering if the game was as good as I expected. It was better! I’m not sure how many quarters I pumped into that crazy machine, but it still wasn’t enough to satisfy my balloon-popping desires. And Marvelous was right, the sound of the clowns’ bodies smashing into the concrete was enough to gross out a pig. My love of 1980s video games was born!

About the Game Circus by Exidy
Although I played Circus in the early 1980s, it was released in 1977. The game play is like Pong or Atari’s Breakout, but don’t let that spoil it for you. Circus was a fun, amusing, challenging game. It would likely gather dust before the kids of today would play it; but these kids are spoiled by Call of Duty, etc. I’m still old school, and I would proudly own an upright Circus cabinet in my own.

Kick_Man_Arcade_Cabinet   Other 1980s Video Games with Clowns and Balloons
There was another 1908s video game to feature a clown-like man and balloons. Released in December 1981, Kick (later renamed Kick-Man) by Midway featured a clown on a unicycle. The player had to maneuver him beneath falling balloons, where it was stack upon his head. Pac Mans also would fall. If caught, they would eat your balloons, giving you extra points. If you missed a balloon on its way down, you could try to kick it back up into the air for another chance to catch or pop it.

For my fellow Flintstones: I remember playing Kick at Playland North on Pasadena Avenue. Wasn’t it located in the long, back room on the western side of the building? Back there with Punchout and Gravitar?

Where to Find Info on All 1980s Arcade Games
If you’re a fan of 1908s video games, you owe it to yourself to visit Killer List of Video Games. There is no better arcade game encyclopedia than K.L.O.V. It features a decent pages about Circus and Kick/Kick-Man. If you remember the names of your favorite arcade games from the 70s and 80s, chances are you’ll find it here. If you’re an old video game fanatic from way back, check out K.L.O.V. It’s a sweet trip down memory lane!

More Video Game Nostalgia to Come!
Circus is just one of many awesome video games from my youth that I still cherish. I tended to like the offbeat, quirky, and downright odd games from those halcyon days. Who remembers such as Venture, Kram, and Crazy Climber? Or how about Bubbles? Or Major Havoc? Expect more blog posts featuring classic video game nostalgia in the future.

In the meantime, please share some of your video game memories in the comments section. I’m dying to know what was sucking up your quarters during the Reagan era!

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.