Donning sequinned tights and a lurex leotard, I step flamboyantly into the circus ring. Stefan Brookolini, master of high wire and tamer of big stripy pussy cats, is ready to take part in the circus spectacular of the year, Circus Games, courtesy of Tynesoft.
Up to four players can compete in the big top tournament - a four event extravaganza that includes tiger training, tightrope walking, trapeze and trick horse riding. I suggest you take advantage of the practice option - at these there will be no audience to laugh as you plummet to your three deaths.
The tiger training event was quite puzzling - according to the instructions the ring should have contained an obstacle course over which the tiger was to be guided, a tiger-head cursor, a tiger and me. All of the afore mentioned items were present except for one - me. I was nowhere to be seen.
I hope my absence was not due to cowardice on my sprite's part. Although this is an interesting game section, the big cat's colours were very poor indeed and he looked like a mottled tabby rather than a striped tiger. That apart it's great fun.
Old timers who remember Superior Software's Hunchback will have a distinct advantage when playing event number two, the trapeze. You stand there high above the ring and as the rope swings towards you, you jump and grab hold. By moving your legs at the correct time you can increase the height of your swing - one of the most critical factors affecting your success. Swing too high and you will soar into the lights, too low and you will plummet like a falling trapeze artist.
As if swinging wasn't enough to cope with, you must time your release so that the far trapeze is within your reach as you complete your graceful arc across the ring. And if you intend scoring any points at this event you had better perform an assortment of twists and somersaults to impress the judges.
The tightrope event employs a dual view display as the walker is seen both from the side and above. The top view allows you to see when you are beginning to overbalance to the left or right, a state of affairs which can be corrected using the appropriate keys.
A remarkable degree of realism has been programmed into this event. Just as in the real discipline, there is a tendency for the inexperienced walker to make a dash for the far podium - this invariably finished with the artiste providing an involuntary demonstration of Newton's laws of gravity.
The final event is the easiest of the four. Sitting and standing on a galloping white charger you have to perform a series of somersaults and handstands. Once again the left and right keys are used to maintain your balance while the fire key initiates any of the four breathtaking stunts. All events are realistically animated and respond well to the controls, but the sound is limited to a few beeps.
Circus Games is a new and interesting variation on the decathlon type of program that has proved so successful over the years. I see no reason why this game should be any different.* * * Second Opinion (By Roland Waddilove) * * *
Circus Games is another blockbuster of a package from Tynesoft. If you've got a disc drive then the disc version is an absolute must as loading time is cut to seconds. You can practice events and chop and change as much as you like.
The graphics are excellent, and though the attempt at digitised sound at the start is interesting, it doesn't quite work. Overall it's a superb compilation of unusual and interesting games.