Life at the top

Circus Attractions logo

BAVE you ever wanted to run away from home and join the circus? What better way to get the urge out your system than with the latest Golden Goblin release, Circus Attractions.

This double-disc game offers five different performing arts type games. These include trampoline, juggling, knife throwing, tightrope walking and clown-jumping, which does not involve a motorbike and a lot of worried little men in red noses, but three clowns being catapulted across the circus ring using planks placed across barrels. By careful timing and some careful aerial manoeuvres, you can land the hapless little fellow on the correct part of the plank and send his compatriot into orbit. This is by far the best game and looks very funny. The animation and spot effects are good, but after a short time it dawns on you that this is all there is. There are clowns. They jump.

The juggling is disappointing. Not only is it technically inaccurate - you are reading a regular juggler here - but it is downright silly as well. Just when you get the hang of juggling six tennis balls you are run down by a midget on a motorbike. This game is not kind towards small people. Perhaps the programmer was attacked by a garden gnome when a child.

Trampolining next. You get on the trampoline and bounce up and down. The audience get bored and the game stops. I know how they feel.

Tightrope walking is, erm, different. A female assistant walks across a rope suspended above the ring. If she wobbles, which she does with alarming regularity, you make her wiggle her arms about to try to regain her balance and so prevent her from falling. Various jumps and somersaults can be attempted if you feel overly confident and want to fall to a horrible death. The computer makes a "Wheeeee" noise and your badly overworked imagination must do the rest.

Knife throwing proves an interesting experience. An assistant hands you knives which you aim and throw at a human target tied to a large rotating wheel. The assistant will occasionally pass you a stick of dynamite that will explode when you take it. If you do not take it, the assistant will explode.

Quite why she tries to blow you up is never explained. Perhaps she is part of the terrorist wing of the Female Assistants and Midgets against Exploitation movement.

Each game can be played individually, or with someone you wish to get into an argument with. In juggling, one player passes the balls to the other. With the jumping clowns ,each player takes it in turn to control a would-be astronaut. Similarly with the other games - no direct competition, just two players.

The music is of the predictable Circus March variety. On the Amiga it is beautifully played, but that does not mean it is enjoyable. After hearing the same little ditty over and over again every time you accidentally fall off the trampoline, you will reach for the volume control.

The instruction manual has been translated from the original German and is very funny. It is actually meant to be funny. The bad translation adds to it.

But it does not change the fact that what we have here is a collection of five short gamelets tied together with a common circus theme. Each game will last about five plays before becoming boring, and that includes the two-player options. It makes a change from shooting aliens, but then so does washing the car.

Circus Attractions logo


Following Grand Monster Slam, a multi-eventer set on another world, comes Golden Goblins' latest offering, a multi-eventer set in the Big Top. There are five events in which you and a friend can participate. The first is the trampoline, in which you have a couple of minutes to bounce around performing forward and backward somersaults in order to impress the crowd and so score points. In two-player mode, each player controls a character on his own trampoline, but when one player starts a somersault the other follows. Having had a surfeit of this bouncing, you can turn a leg to tightrope walking. The task here is to help Olga balance during her diagonal walk across the screen by moving the joystick to the left and right. If things are going well it is possible to attempt tricks such as scissor kicks, handstands and backwards somersaults, each completed trick earning points.

Survive the high wire and it is time to try your hand at juggling, with up to six tennis balls plus a balancing ball on the foot and the occasional Indian club. As if that is not enough, a midget clown riding a motorbike occasionally attempts to run you down, so it is a good idea to jump in the air at the appropriate time and so avoid him!

The penultimate trick is quite likely to be the most dangerous: knife throwing. Line the crosshairs up on the wheel, to which is securely fastened a nervous young lady, then take knives from the obligatory scantily-clad assistant and lob them at the wheel, trying to miss the girl if at all possible. Curiously, the assistant is none too friendly and will sometimes try to hand you a stick of dynamite, which explodes if you accept it, thus ending the game.

The final trick involves three clowns and two see-saws. The player must guide each clown in turn as they jump from one see-saw to the other, avoiding a ghost that appears between them, and collecting any bonus points by catching various obstacles, that appear above the clowns' heads.

The events all require practice to achieve a good degree of competence, and some events are definitely tougher to master than others. None of the events has outstanding gameplay, so Circus Attractions comes across as a pot pourri of mediocre games that tend to frustrate more than entertain. The fun improves if you play with two, but not greatly.


Graphics throughout are good. The colour backdrops, good perspective and smooth animation all work well together making it very attractive visually. Sound is not so hot: the barrel-organ tunes that accompany each event are all well executed and add atmosphere, but they are far too repetitive and are likely to become annoying sooner rather than later.