Circus is an arcade game released by Exidy in 1977. The game is an arranged version of Atari's Breakout, where the player controls a seesaw and clown in order to destroy all of the targets in the level. The game has been copied and released under different names by numerous other companies in both the United States and Japan.
3 rows of triangular balloons move along the top part of the screen, each overlaid with blue, green, and yellow (colors used in the original version), counting from the top row. A clown appears from the edge of the screen where there is a jumping board, and the player must move the seesaw located at the bottom of the screen so that the clown can bounce back off the seesaw once he jumps off from his starting position. However, it is impossible to make contact with the clown with the seesaw in certain locations. The 4 jumping boards located on the sides of the screen serve to decrease the area where it is impossible to make contact.
If the player successfully gets the clown onto the seesaw, the clown on the other side shoots off into the air towards the 3 balloons on the top of the screen. The clown may not have enough speed to reach the balloons if the first clown does not land squarely on the seesaw.
Clowns bounce off of balloons, walls, and jumping boards, but will pass directly through multiple balloons if they are moving quickly enough. They will only bounce off the jumping boards when they are heading downwards, and will pass straight through the boards while moving upwards. Hitting any of the balloons with the clown causes them to burst, and the player receives 20 points for bursting the yellow balloon, 50 points for the green balloon, and 100 points for the blue balloon.
Bursting the entire row of balloons causes a sound effect and awards the player 10 times the original points as a bonus (i.e. 200 points for the yellow balloon). A new row of balloons instantly replaces the old one when the entire row is destroyed.
Destroying all of the blue balloons causes another sound effect and allows the player to play one more time (1 clown) after they have depleted their stock. The words 'BONUS PLAY' appear to indicate this bonus, but destroying all of the blue balloons a second time will not allow the player to gain another clown (the bonus can be activated while the player is using the extra clown). This may differ in certain levels like 7 and 8, where all 3 rows of balloons must be destroyed in order to active the bonus.
A clown will die if the player fails to receive them with the seesaw at the bottom of the screen, and 2 measures of the funeral march in Frédéric Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 are played as a sound effect. The player can continue if they still have stock remaining, or if they have been rewarded the bonus play.
When the player has depleted all of their stock, the screen switches over to the demo screen, where the number of balloons is the same as that of the player's before they lost their final clown. If the player has reached over a certain amount of points, they can play one more time like the balloon bonus (the availability of this bonus may differ, as indicated in the list of rules shown after the player enters the credits). The player cannot gain another clown in the same way during this play bonus.