3/2 Crying Clowns Touch Me. Inappropriately.

Circus Caper

     The early days of the console gaming industry were similar to the early days of motion pictures, in that just about anything on a glowing screen was more interesting than the morning radio news. And, to drag this analogy further, both recent movie and games rely more on huge CG special effects than real gameplay. And if you consider Madden 200X to be the cutting of edge of video gaming, then:


  • Kill yourself painfully (Go to page 118 while squeezing a .45 caliber into your liver)

  • Regard Circus Caper as the Nintendo equivalent to black-and-white silent films where a deformed mime gets beaten by men in suits (read on)

     This game was brought to us by Toho, a group usually regarded for their breakthrough work in rubber monster suit-wearing. It took over a year to program because the building was evacuated every ten minutes for Godzilla Readiness Training. So a total of three hours went into the coding, and the script was punched up in a hurry by a schoolgirl and a guy in a rubber lizard costume.

     At the start of Circus Caper, a boy and his little sister visit the lousiest traveling exhibition since The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies. An obviously evil clown starts hitting on them and asks them if they want to get lucky. (Keep in mind that back in the eighties it was still okay to abuse kids while hammering them with a desk. Captain Planet came along and changed that.) Naturally the kids can't turn down a demonic clown's advances, so they play his stupid little dice-rolling game. And even after they win, he says he only has one ticket. And makes a production of it. If you thought Mojo Jojo was bad, wait until CLOWN gets on a roll. "UH OH! THERE IS ONLY ONE TICKET! THERE ARE TWO OF YOU, BUT I HAVE ONLY ONE TICKET TO GIVE AWAY! ONE OF YOU WILL BE LEFT WITHOUT A TICKET BECAUSE I ONLY HAVE ONE, THAT IS SINGULAR LESS THAN TWO, TICKETS!" Long story made short, the girl goes and the boy waits outside.

     Once the 'show over,' the little boy (who is named Tim, but let's call him Mike because all the other kids on the NES were named Mike or Mikey) notices nobody came out of the tent. Which would make sense because nobody went in but his sister who seems to be the type who would walk into a bathroom and forget what she had to do. But Mikey isn't that smart or cynical, so naturally he decides to amble his way in. Lo and behold, a villain.

     He insists you call him Mr. Magic, which is yet another of the bits of dialogue this game regurgitates at you like a bad pickup line. If I had the patience to play more than about three screens of the first level, there's probably a cinema later on where we see a picture of Vincent Price on a beach blanket hiding himself behind a sand crab, with the captions MR. MAGIC: YOU WANT GOOD TIME? I MAKE YOU VERY LUCKY.

     As I mentioned, I spent more time looking at the opening and scratching my head in confusion than playing the actual game. The game itself is basically the little boy tottering through a big top while being attacked by clowns and bears. Or were there just clowns? I'm too afraid of Mr. Magic to go back and check. You have at your disposal a little nudge forward that seems to want to be called a punch, and a kickish maneuver.

     I mercifully omitted my original idea of having an animated GIF of the whole opening, but it would mean about three hours worth of these weird innuendoes.

     And really, is this guy even close to being as scary as a clown with dice? He's not even as terrifying as my elementary school music teacher, who taught us how to love and sing through a tennis ball with a slit cut in it and little black eyes scrawled on his face.

     In the start of video games, it's interesting to note that little kids were heroes most of the time. That's probably because programmers were afraid of the effect 'breasts' might have on the gamer. It's like how in laboratories, hamsters aren't allowed the room where they keep the Radioactive Mutation Goo because they don't know what the hamsters will turn into, but it will probably be huge, indestructible, and have a craving for human flesh.

     Either that or because the original target audience was really little back then. But I like my explanation better.

Such profanity.





The Church of the Clown.