Some games, man, some games. Circus Caper ranks as one of those NES titles I'd sum up as obnoxious. This wound up being a rental for us that later became a purchase, almost because my brother had the game almost beaten. The mentality being from a parent's perspective, "they're playing it a lot, so clearly that means they like it." There's very little to genuinely like about Circus Caper, unless your form of entertainment involves digging electrodes under your fingernails.

Circus Caper is a reskin of the original Famicom game, Moeru! Oniisan, or The Burning Wild Man. A manga series from the late 80's into the early 90's, Moeru! Oniisan follows the adventures of Kenichi Kokuho, who was stranded in the mountains as a child and grew into a young man. Seemingly a Tarzan-esque story (I knew little about Moeru!, it's never been localized here in the U.S.) , it seems reasonable why American audiences wouldn't understand something that has visual stylings and humor, so the changes are understandable. Why not go with something as unsettling and discomforting as CLOWNS? 

The plot is standard fare. Tim goes to the circus with his little sister, she's abducted and the EEEEEVIL Mr. Magic, who looks like David Blaine's estranged cousin, threatens Tim. It's now up to this boy of indeterminable age wearing an outfit that'll make Dick Grayson blush to defeat a bunch of carnys and rescue Judy.

As far as a reskin, I think 'Circus Caper' looks is a little more appealing for two reasons. I have no connection with the Moeru series, so any visual gags related to it are well over my head. I've watched anime for over twenty years, and there's still things I don't understand about this medium. And secondly, I prefer the palette of Circus Caper, it's colorful and pops, the design has more consistency and focus. Moeru looks bland in many areas and uses a lot of flat checkerboard pattern or sequence of repeating tiles that I find blinding for the environment and structures, it's hard to look at. That's about it for most of my positives, I like to give credit where it's due.


Circus Caper plays impressively generic for its linear platform levels. Your attacks, a punch and a kick, have both absolutely paltry range and hit boxes and most enemies don't come at you in a trajectory that can be read without at least trading damage. So your standard attack really sucks, you pick up items that act as alt weapons like Castlevania.

Well, if Castlevania were whacked in the back of the head with a kayak paddle. Tim can use mallets, brick blocks, soccer balls, yo-yos, and bombs to deal out damage, or in the case of the block, use as an extra platform to reach higher areas. There isn't an indicator of how many you have in stock, so I just spam them until I run out. Items like the soccer ball and the mallet are forward moving projectile attacks, the soccer ball falls and tracks the ground. Only one can be shot at a time and they move slow. The yo-yo provides a temporary shield that revolves around Tim and is a decent defensive weapon. Don't use them when traversing the crocodiles in stage one, it will destroy them, leaving you nowhere to jump. These weapons, along with the bountiful health item drops make Circus Caper a lenient game. It's a touch lame that there's zero checkpoints and technically one life. But after "GAME OVER" it sends you back to a soft title screen where you can continue. It really eats that there's no checkpoints, because playing these levels is about as entertaining as watching an apple brown. Circus Caper isn't even hard, perhaps its greatest challenge outside of navigating the stiff controls is trying to remain interested. There's no creativity in enemy patterns, platform puzzles that ask anything more of the player to merely stay awake, it's not demanding in any facet. And items fly way off the damn screen, meaning you have to hover over them so they don't escape your grasp.


Circus Caper can be best described as forgettable. I throw in the basement of worthless NES titles with games like DynoWarz and Mystery Quest. Absolutely nothing is missed if you decided to pass on it. If any positive statements begin with, "Well, when you think about it, this isn't THAT bad", it's an indicator that the pod people infestation is underway and going well. I need Roddy Piper's X-Ray glasses to begin the vetting.

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