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The seventh in the Mysterious Adventure series of illustrated text adventures by Brian Howarth. Your car has broken down, miles from anywhere. Heading off in search of a gas station, 3 miles down the road you come upon what appears to be a Circus tent, nestled in a small valley. Sounds and music come from inside. As you reach the gate, suddenly there is complete silence. You walk fearfully towards the entrance of the tent, wondering what exactly is going on here. Maybe if you are lucky, you can find some gas here...

Around this time, the game engine was replaced with a far more powerful one. Now the games accepted complete sentences. You can hit ENTER to switch between graphics and all text. This made them somewhat easier to play and less frustrating.

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Average score: 85% (based on 1 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 14 ratings with 1 reviews)

You rather go to a circus instead of fixing the car? Yes, please!

The Good
Circus is a text adventure from Channel 8 which also includes graphics, and it is part of its “Mysterious Adventures” series. You're driving on the road when suddenly, your car breaks down. It just so happens that there is a circus near where your car is stalled. You think you'd rather check it out, and hopefully find something that will help you with the repair. While you're at it, maybe you can perform some acrobatics and deal with some dangerous animals. These are the events that can occur at some point in this adventure. To get anywhere in the game, two-word commands need to be entered. They usually take the form of a verb-noun sequence, but when it comes to movement you only need to type the abbreviation (e.g. E for east). There is one thing I like about the parser: if you happen to make a typo (too many of the same letter, for example), the game will still accept it.

Two modes are available, with Graphic mode being the default. When you enter a new scene, you get to see a beautiful illustration being drawn and colored in, and then the prompt below this. There is also text mode, where you are presented with a brief description of the scene, what objects and dangers are present, and the available exits. Text mode is extremely useful if you want to move between a lot of scenes without the graphics getting in your way. I like this mode because it allows me to use my imagination, the same way you have to use it if you’re playing those old Infocom games.

The game world is huge, which is why you need to draw a map, so you can quickly get to where you want to go and not go around in circles. This is especially crucial during the final events of the game, where you enter a command at a terminal that initiates a self-destruct sequence. You can die in the game, but these deaths occur when you are about to complete it. The death illustration is the same as in Feasibility Experiment, tombstone and all.

The Bad
If you’re in text mode and you switch back to Graphic mode, you have to see the game redraw the graphics every time you do this. Once the graphics for each scene is redrawn, it should have transformed into a static image in memory.

The Bottom Line
Circus is an early adventure game that is part of Channel 8's "Mysterious Adventures" series. In this game, you need to explore a circus so you can find parts needed to repair your car. Two-word commands are needed to proceed through the game, but directions can be abbreviated to just one or two letters. It offers Graphic and Text modes, both having disadvantages. If you enjoy early adventure games, then Circus should be added to your collection.

Commodore 64 · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2022


Author's View

Brian Howarth has said that this was the game that he was most satisfied with from the Mysterious Adventures series. He liked that some people had commented that it was reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 29402


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by mocagh.

Dragon 32/64, Atari 8-bit added by Trypticon. Commodore 16, Plus/4 added by Rola. BBC Micro, Electron, TRS-80 added by S Olafsson. Browser added by Pseudo_Intellectual.

Additional contributors: LepricahnsGold, 64er.

Game added August 7th, 2007. Last modified April 19th, 2023.