A splendid time is guaranteed for all

Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun logo

HAVE you ever met a bailiff? They're the big men with very wide sholders and little conversation. They do not wear clown make-up and silly shoes. Freddy does. He has been sent by the bank to reclaim a $10,000 loan. If you can't pay him, your circus will become the foundations for a new property development. There is only one way to avoid this Rose Theatre fate - put on the deathest-defyingest, amazingest feat of circustry that the world has ever witnessed.

There are six events. Do well enough in all of them and the circus will earn money from ticket sales to carry the show on.

Even from the lowest board of the high dive, the tub looks pretty small. On the way down you have to adopt a string of poses - emulating King Tut or meditating in the yoga position for instance.
You fall straight, but in the tumbles between positions you drift off target. Frantic joystick waggling is the order of the day. As you move up the diving boards the targets get smaller. And they don't just look smaller - you end up diving into a teacup.

Freddy might appear at any moment armed with a fan to blow you away, but this is tame compared with his later antics. While you are unicycling and juggling Freddy distracts the seal - your ball-throwing assistant - with a fish. Then he adds some excitement of his own with a bomb. You must juggle it back out to survive.

On to the knife throwing, which has shades of Operation Wolf as you try to pop balloons without turning your female assistant into a kebab. Freddy will help by throwing bombs which puts you off your aim.

My favourite event is the flying trapeze, not just because it stirs memories of Pitfall but because I find it quite easy. Match the swing of the next trapeze with the one your girl is on, and shout like Tarzan as you press Fire. Later on you get to jump at flaming hoops.

Switching back to the hunky male character, the tightrope would be quite straightforward - advance by pressing forward on the joystick, correct a wobble with left and right - if it weren't for Freddy. He'll cut you in two by throwing a disc in much the same way as Odd Job did in Goldfinger. You can protect yourself with the balancing pole, but staying on the wire afterwards is a trifle tough.

The grand finale is the human cannonball. The bimbo smiles as you brace yourself. She carries on smiling as she fills the cannon with powder. The spotlight is reflected in her toothy grin as you climb on the barrel.
Then when Freddy appears and plugs the gun with a cork does she grimace? Does she look worried as the whole lot explodes? Not a bit of it, she just keeps up her tabloid pose. I think I'm in love.
Targeting the gun is more fun that A level physics. You have to move the net and balance the trajectory against the amount of powder. I wrote a program like this years ago. Sold five copies.

For each round you are given a score. This comes in the best possible form: Money. You use the cash to pay off the bank and hopefully win the game. How much you win depends on a judging panel composed of slapstick clowns.

Throughout the game the graphics are superb. Not just for the jaunty way they are drawn but for the cartoonist's tricks - like motion blur and rubber people - which makes watching as much fun as playing. New twists, the hysterical clowns and the sense of achievement when you complete a level, put you in the party mood. Invite some friends around and use the five player option!

If there is a flaw, it is in the juggling. Not the round in which Freddy hand you a bomb, but the juggling between the three game discs. You soon get fed up having to remove the "Amazing Disc A" and replace the "Death-Defying Disc C" just so that some clowns can laugh at you. This is a symptom of the huge quantity of graphics the game uses. It is also boring.

But Fiendish Freddy really is very, very funny to watch and play. I'd recommend it to anyone with young children.

Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun logo

MINDSCAPE £29.99 * Joystick

Roll up! Roll up, for yet another game set inside the Big Top! Our eponymous hero Fiendish Freddy may be a wizz in the ring, but he's no financial magician, and now the fascist bully-boys from the bank want the $10,000 they lent him back: and they want it back by tonight. There's only one thing poor Freddy can do: make the money by taking part in six circus events, to earn dollars rather than points when he is judged at the end of the event.

Event Number One is High diving. Climb to the first board, the lowest, jump off and go into a tuck until a prompt tells you what stunt to perform (sitting in the Lotus position, standing like King Tut and so on) on the way down. Then you must press fire and move the joystick to the correct position to perform the stunt, before returning to the tuck and wiggling the joystick in an attempt to stay on target to enter the pool. For each height of board you perform successfully, not only do you climb to the ext board, but the pool also becomes smaller: right down to cup size.

Event Two: unicycle juggling. Ride left-right and catch and juggle the objects thrown by your seal assistant. Occasionally a rival clown will lob bombs and rockets at you which have to be caught and lobbed off-screen before they explode. This clown character is a nasty piece of work because he does his best to disrupt you during every event, so beware!

Event Three: trapeze. Swing from trapeze to trapeze by timing your release. There are paper hoops and flaming hoops to jump through as well, so timing is all-important.

Event Four: Knife throwing. Fling daggers and balloons pinned to a revolving wheel: which just happens to have a girl tied to it! Pop the balloons and miss the girl and you get a fresh set of knives, a new set of balloons and a shorter time limit.

Event Five: High wire. Balance your way from one end of the rope to the other by some athletic and skillful joystick waggling. Sixth and finally: Human Cannonball. Position the landing target (the distance depends on how much gunpowder you allow your assistant to load before that awful clown comes and messes things up), enter the cannon then launch yourself when the cannon is at the right (hopefully) angle. And there you have it. Fail to earn the approval of the judges and the ten grand, and it's curtains for the circus.


Sound first: the jolly circus-like tunes will really start to get on your nerves after a while, which is a shame because the effects that are there are good; there's just too few of them. The graphics are great, the animation is 'lovely, the characters have a humorous cartoon quality and the overall look of the game is impressive.


What's not so impressive is the gameplay. Each event is simple to pay and the tedious amount of disk swapping (three disks total make up the game) gets on your nerves sooner rather than later. FF's BTOF ends up being another cobbled together collection of slightly better than average games which look loads better than they actually play, and once you've seen all the various screens you'll tire of it quickly.

Arena der Sensationen:

Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun logo

Eigentlich reißen Zirkus-Games nun wirklich keinen mehr vom Hocker, aber unser Joker hat nun mal einen Faible für Clowns - liegt wohl an der Familienähnlichkeit... Außerdem ist Mindscapes "Freddy" eine Klasse für sich!

Schon der Vorspann erreicht Trickfilm-Qualität vom Feinsten: Eine wirklich, wirklich laaaange Limousine fährt vor, um unserem wackeren Zirkusdirektor eine gepfefferte Rechnung zu präsentieren. Entweder er kommt noch heute mit den fälligen 10.000 Dollar rüber, oder sein Zeit muß einem Hochhaus weichen. Klar, da ß sich jetzt alle Artisten besonders anstrengen, um die dringend benötigte Kohle herein zu spielen! Kein leichtes Unterfangen, hat doch der Bösewicht aus dem Luxusschlitten einen Spion im Clownsgewand in die Mannschaft geschmuggelt. Freddy heißt der Kerl, und seine Späße erschweren artistische Höchstleistungen erheblich...

Bis zu fünf Leute dürfen nun in sechs Disziplinen antreten, je nach Qualität der Vorstellung verteilt eine umwerfend komische Clown-Jury dann Punkte in Form von Cash. Zunächst sucht man sich ein Tier aus, das den Spieler in der Manege repräsentiert, dann darf man sich entscheiden, ob noch einige Übungsrunden absolviert werden sollen. Ich entschließe mich für den kessen Party-Tiger mit Cocktailglas und stelle mich wagemutig der Herausforderung.

In der ersten Abteilung versucht Glatzkopf Horace vom Sprungturm aus graziös in einem Wassertrog zu landen. Als ob die verschiedenen Kunstsprünge nicht schwierig genug wären, taucht immer wieder Freddy auf, um Horace mit einem Ventilator aus der Flugbahn zu blasen. In der nächsten Disziplin irritiert der fiese Clown einen Jongleur durch den Zuwurf von Bomben statt Bällen. Auch die Trapezkünstlerin Finola hat's nicht leicht, ist doch Freddy mit dem Jetpack unterwegs - die große Schere schon gezückt! Beim Messerwurf auf eine bezaubernde Blondine trüben Freddys Rauchbomben gelegentlich die Sicht, was die Gute bei jedem Fehlwurf markerschütternd aufheulen läßt. Auch bei der anschließenden Hochseilakrobatik ist äußerste Konzentration angesagt: Wer sich einen Fehltritt erlaubt, hängt am Seil und macht zuerst mit Freddys großem Hammer und dann mit dem Manegenboden Bekanntschaft. Zum Schluß folgt der Auftritt der menschlichen Kanonenkugel.

In dieser Disziplin ist Augenmaß gefragt, aber auch das Timing muß stimmen - sonst stöpselt der Miesling einfach die Kanone zu!

"Fiendish Freddy" ist der absolute Höhepunkt in aller Zirkusspiele, wer immer in Zukunft ein ähnliches Game herausbringen will, wird sich an diesem Standard messen müssen. Grafik und Animation sind ein Traum, nur die Sound strapaziert gelegentlich die Nerven. Sämtliche Disziplinen überzeugen durch einen gleichmäßigen Schwierigkeitsgrad - weder zu leicht noch zu schwer. Schade nur, daß keine einzige davon für zwei Spieler gleichzeitig ausgelegt ist. Aber die vielen, vielen liebevollen Gags entschädigen für alles! (ml)

Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun logo

price: £29.99

Move over Freddy Kruger, here comes Fiendish Freddy, as sweet as a Jelly Baby made from Semtex. In disguise he is a corrupt and psychotic circus clown, in real life he's a corrupt and psychotic property type who wants to tear down the big top and build multi-storey real estate.

Freddy has a killer cork, a hairdryer in his holster, and an arsenal of deadly toys straight out of the Merry Melody school of wanton destruction.

The gameplay is thin but, the again, Fiendish Freddy's animation is as good as you'd get from a Warner Bros cartoon.

The circus is snowed under with loans and the deadline for repayment is midnight tonight. No dosh and the deeds to the site will go to Freddy's chums at the Swiss bank. There's only one hope: to swell admissions and the coffers by staging the biggest and grandest big top show ever. But Freddy will make sure that everyone wants their money back - by ruining the show and bumping off the performers.

And that, I'm pleased to say, is where the delightful animated sequences come in. It's also, I'm sad to say, where the gameplay tumbles down.

There's little point in explaining the mechanics of the game. When you walk the tightrope you have to move forward but not fall off; when you play the human cannonball you have to judge distance and trajectory. Once you've worked this out it's down to practise rather than challenge. What you are treated to are Freddy's dark and daffy deeds. Freddy will blow the high diver off course (who, amongst over things has to land in a bucket in the lotus position) by hovering about with a huge hair dryer. Freddy will bung up the end of the human cannonball's cannon with a monster rubber cork. He will stamp on your hands as you cling desperately to the high wire, and he will lure away the juggling seal and throw you a bomb. And when you fall to your death it's straight out of a scene from Roadrunner, a tearful wave, bemused expression and overhead perspective.

The opening and closing titles are magnificent. The former has a snootmobile pulling up and an unknown figure handing the ringmaster a threatening letter. The latter, if Freddy is victorious, show the big top being pulled down and high rise maisonettes rising in its place. The judges are a rum bunch of artistes who prefer throwing custard pies and poking out each others' eyes to doing their job.

The biggest pain with a game so packed with complex graphics is the amount of disk swapping and the loading time, which seems to go on for ever. This is almost a game I'd rather see on a coin-op than a home computer. Fiendish Freddy is something you will put away fairly soon after purchase, but will take out now and again to perfect your favourite sequence. The soundtrack is a variation on popular classics and fairground noise, but nevertheless it's weedy.

Even so, a million times sharper than a 'Monty Python' license, Fiendish Freddy is a thoroughly nasty treat in which the bad guy often wins. It also marks a welcome return for Chris Gray who wrote Infiltrator and Boulderdash for the 64. He spent two years doing this and it shows in the polish. I love it.

Hilarious circus fun with the nastiest clown around

Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun logo Zzap! Sizzler

Mindscape, Amiga £29.99

What Roger Rabbit did for the 1930s detective movies, Fiendish Freddy does for Big top computer games. With a sense of humour dark enough to have been lifted from the Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children comic this show business tale starts with the law firm Dewey, Cheatum & Howe delivering some 'Legal Mumbo Jumbo' which means the circus must immediately repay $10,000 to the Big Greedy Bank (headed by I.M. Tightwad).

Your objective is to become a star circus performer, wowing a team of judges to give you lots of dosh for your dazzling execution of six circus events. Striving to see the events execute you, rather than vice versa, is the 'devious, dastardly, diabolical, devilish and demented' Mr Fiendish Freddy, a singularly vicious clown whose assassination attempts could well have you dying of laughter rather than dynamite, falling from a very great height, having your trapeze cut, etc.

Up to five players can take part, taking turns, and any of the vents may be practiced. The first event is the high dive, where you must dive from an incredibly high pole into an unbelievably small water bucket. Survive that and you must dive from ever higher up the pole into objects such as a teacup and even an anvil! While diving down you must waggle the joystick to gain momentum, take up poses such as Yoga and King Tut, and stay on target for your landing (with Freddy trying to blow you off course). Miss the water bucket (or whatever) and that's the end of your diving career!

The next event is juggling on a unicycle. A seal tosses you objects, which you juggle by selecting the right hand (with fire) and pressing up to throw. As your rime in the spotlight ticks down Freddy can appear, tossing you bombs for a spectacular finale! After being incinerated by Freddy you can be cut free by him on the trapeze.

Besides timing when to let go of one trapeze in order to catch the next swinging trapeze you must look out for burning hoops to fly through with the greatest if unease.

After fear of heights it's fear of blood, with you as the knife thrower, endangering the life of a curvaceous young blonde spread-eagle on a spinning wheel with brightly coloured balloons which you must burst. Fiendish Freddy throws on smoke bombs to obscure your view as time ticks down and knives run out.

A question of balance is the heart of the next event - the high wire act. Push up to go forward, and press left and right to use the pole to keep balanced. Take too long and Freddy blasts you with a cannonball.

The event to bring the house down though is the human cannonball. Snugly fitted into your cannon by the luscious Miss Bimbo you must first place your safety net based on how much gunpowder has been put in the cannon. Once this is done the cannon starts to fall, you must press fire at the correct angle or you'll take the most direct route to China.

Phil King I love a good multi-event game and Fiendish Freddy has the added bonus of being side-splittingly funny. All the vents are animated in fine comical style - at times it's like watching a cartoon - and you never know just when Freddy's going to pop up to knock you off the tightrope or throw a bomb at you. The events themselves aren't that complex but always fun to play and beautifully presented with suitably jovial soundtracks playing continuously and some great slapstick sound effects. My only niggle is that with three disks there's inevitably a lot of disk shuffling with each event taking quite a while to load. But the action is just so uproarious this minor problem doesn't spoil the fun whatsoever.
Robin Hogg Chris Gray's presence on the 64 has brought him mega-success, Infiltrator accelerated him to stardom and now he's working he certainly hasn't lost his touch. Fiendish Freddy may be covering old ground (even on the Amiga) but it's the fun of it all that shines through. The animation is, to say the least, brilliant with a sense of humour that's very black and very funny to witness in action - I defy you to play the diving event and not come away grinning! Each event isn't all that demanding but as a whole it's one epic battle to save the big top. Very funny indeed and highly competitive as well. Very much in the Epyx Games style but much more entertaining.
Stuart Wynne After the disappointment of Roger Rabbit, Mindscape and programmer Chris Gray get it right with this truly amazing blend of hilarious animation and fun gameplay. The graphics throughout are of the 'gee-whizz', first-class demo quality while gameplay is hardly any less superb. The first event is misleadingly easy, after that things get tough but thankfully on some of the harder events you get more lives - up to three on the cannonball event. After despising circuses since being a kid watching those interminable Christmas Specials I'm a true convert now. Whatever you do, don't miss the Greatest Show On Earth!