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Circus Atari Review

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Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: N/A Also On: None

Too many games on the Atari 2600 seem to be clones of other games, although most of the more blatant clones were third party games. That is not to say, however, that Atari themselves never cloned some of their more successful games, for indeed they did. Consider such games as Ms. Pac-man and Millipede and you will know that to be the case. One of their earliest clones of a successful game was Circus Atari in 1981, a clone of Breakout. Is it a good clone and a good game? Read on to find out.

Circus Atari very much follows the Breakout concept, but there are differences. First of all, the objects at the top of the screen that you are trying to destroy move instead of remaining stationary. Secondly, instead of having a paddle bouncing a ball, you have a teeter-totter trampoline that bounces clowns up towards those objects, which, according to the manual, are balloons, hence the name of the game.

This makes the game far more complex, since it means that the two clowns you use alternate being the one to go up into the air making aiming a bit more interesting. Also, the position on which the falling clown lands on the teeter-totter affects not only the angle at which the other one flies into the air, but also the height he ascends to. Do it wrong, and the clown will not even fly high enough up into the air to hit a balloon. Oh, and a clown dies not only if the teeter-totter misses it, but also if he lands on his partner. These things make this game, in many ways, more challenging than Breakout.

Graphically, the clowns look pretty good. They are drawn well and look convincingly like people. Beyond them and the teeter-totter they use to propel each other into the air, the graphics use pretty big pixels. The “balloons” are squares where they could have probably been slightly more detailed by this point in the lifespan of the system. The sound in this game is not that impressive, but sound on the Atari 2600 did not really come into its own until 1982, so that is somewhat forgivable. Overall, the aesthetics are not bad in this game, however.

Overall, this game is a reasonably good alternative to Breakout or Super Breakout if you want something just a little different. Like Breakout and Super Breakout, this game requires a paddle controller, which might be a turnoff to a few, but it should not be a big deal to most fans of the Atari 2600. It also has enough different game modes to last a while. The game is quite common as well, so it should not be hard or expensive to find. Despite it being a clone, you could do far worse than to add this game to your collection.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.6
Written by Martin Review Guide