Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Canon Video Game Review: Circus Caper (NES)

Before I start this review of a game I am sure is totally awesome, I would like to first do a mini restaurant review of Quincy's Family Steakhouse of Toccoa, GA, which I dined at yesterday. I went there with a few friends, and since I didn't really know what I wanted, I ordered the buffet which is served there. From my experiences with this establishment, there are some days where that's a good decision and some days where it's not such a good decision. Yesterday was a bit of mixed bag. Although I did like the fresh lettuce in the salad bar and was pleased by the macaroni, it seemed as if some of the food I had eaten had been out there for a while, like the fried chicken, for one. Also, the marinara sauce I topped by spaghetti with was rather bland. However, they were about to close, so I'm sure I did not catch them at an optimal time when it comes to food quality. However, it wasn't too bad, even though it was a little expensive (about 13 bucks a head). I'll give it a 5.5 out of 10, and I would be willing to give it a more thorough review in the future.

Now to the main event of the evening, where I talk about a little game for the Nintendo Entertainment System called Circus Caper. Circus Caper was distributed in 1990 by ToHo Co. Ltd., a company more known for making a whole lot of movies featuring Godzilla. This was ToHo's first foray into the video game industry, and they would only make a few more games before going back to movies, so what does that tell you? Let's take a look at the cover of this game, courtesy of the site nesgames.org:

I have no idea what's going on here, but that is one demented looking clown. In this game, you control a boy named Tim. See, Tim and his sister Judy wanted to go and see the circus, but they didn't have any money. However, a clown at the front gate gives them a chance to win tickets by rolling dice and getting the right number. Well, they do, but the clown says that there's only room for one person to enter. Judy is given the ticket, and Tim is left sitting outside waiting for the end of the circus. Or maybe he goes off to get something to eat or something, who knows? Once Tim returns to pick his sister up, without their parents for some reason. Tim is unable to locate Judy. Instead he finds a creep of a man who calls himself Mr. Magic. Mr. Magic informs Tim that Judy is now in his custody. Well, doesn't that beat all. Tim decides not to take this news lying down, saying "Shucks! You can't have her!" So Tim does what any good brother would do, and goes into the deep dark circus in hopes of rescuing his sister. Now, if you are saying to yourself, "what a creepy plot this is for a game". I'd say you are absolutely right. I wouldn't be surprised that kids playing this game were scared of going to circus in fear of being abducted by some creep named Mr. Magic. Boy, I bet Ringling Bros. were not happy about this game's release. Well, they would be if anybody played it.

The gameplay of Circus Caper sucks, to be blunt about it. Tim has to fight off clowns and things that look like clown faces with wings and elephants and the key to any good circus, crocodiles. Tim attacks with all the speed of a phone booth, leaving yourself open to lose hit points in hand-to-hand combat. Once Tim vanquishes his enemies, the enemies drop items. Some of which can recover hit points, while others are weapons to be used, like a hammer and a soccer ball, which can then be thrown at the enemies. For some reason, some of the clowns Tim fights will stand on their heads and fight you for no good reason. I think that was just lazy programming on somebody's part. There is also a mini game you can play when you enter a door that can be found once every 10 feet or so. In this mini game, you and a bear (huh?) must jump over flames coming at you and avoid getting burned. The good news is that in between regular gameplay and the minigame, Tim has developed the hang time of Michael Jordan. The bad news is that after a few seconds, the flames decide not to mess around and start moving at the speed of sound. Sadly, Tim does not keep his new found hangtime in the regular game, because it really would have helped me.

I must say I didn't get very far in this game. For one, there's a point very early in the first level where Tim must navigate over water by jumping on the crocodiles while they have their mouths closed. If the croc's mouth opens, Tim gets bitten and falls into the water, where he dies because nobody on a Nintendo platform game ever learned how to swim. You get about half a second before the croc's mouth opens, and I really struggled with the timing. There is an item which allows you to put a brick to stand on anywhere you put. But since the controls seemingly respond whenever they damn well please I never could line up the brick in just the right spot. After about nine times of failing to clear this jump that a plumber could make in his sleep, I finally got through to the other side, where more upside down clowns and flying clown faces were there to swarm upon me. There are six levels on this game, and I only got to play one, because I suck and this game did not hold my interest at all. The graphics are merely ok for this time period, but the animation leaves a lot to be desired, as Tim's fist is somehow bigger than his torso. The soundtrack sounds like a mutant hybrid of typical circus music and an 80s cartoon theme song, but it wasn't too annoying, so I'll give it a pass.

After trying out Circus Caper, I can safely say that I never want to play this game again. I'm just going to assume that Tim was able to rescue Judy by roundhouse kicking Mr. Magic in the groin 19 times. Either that, or Judy started to identify with her captors and while dressed up in clown makeup, turned on Tim and piledrove him. Either way, I just don't care. I'm going to give this game a 1.3 out of 10, because it probably isn't the worst game I've ever played, but it still sucks nonetheless. Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this post, or ideas for future posts, than let me know about them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com. Now, here's a video of some other poor sap playing this game:

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