Exidy produced a very different kind of Breakout game in 1977. The game’s name was Circus, and true to its title, it gave players control of a high-flying big top act, live and without a net.
At the top of the screen ran three rows of coloured balloons – yellow (worth 20 points each), green (50 points) and blue (100 points) – moving sideways in different directions. Your job was to pop them – with your clowns’ heads!
At the bottom of the screen was a seesaw with one clown holding down his end. The second clown jumped from one of the platforms at the side of the screen, forcing you to guide the seesaw underneath the airborne clown.
Correct placement sent the other clown soaring up toward the balloons, popping until he could pop no longer.
Poor placement, naturally, made for a very unhappy – and considerably flatter – clown.
Game play continued until the last clown splatted, offering no breaks other than the temporary interludes when an entire row of balloons was popped.
The action got faster as more balloons were popped, making this one of the most dangerous stunts since Evel Knievel’s Snake Canyon jump.
The game was a springy, fun hit in its day, and the concept was revived to great success in Circus Atari for the 2600.