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Some of the first thoughts that come to mind when thinking about a circus
might be clowns, jugglers, tightrope walkers, animal trainers and acrobats all
performing astonishing feats before a large audience. The smell of cotton
candy, popcorn and peanuts fill the air while your senses are bombarded with
excitement. Many of the dangerous acts required strength, skill, timing and
agility that kept us at the edge of our seats in suspense. The ringmaster
orchestrated of all these wondrous performances as his narration set the tone
for the show.
John Popadiuk has
managed to incorporate the same thrills into Cirqus Voltaire. Cirqus Voltaire
probably has one of the most radical designs and color schemes seen in the
pinball industry. The back glass has no digital display but is full sized
interactive orange cannon ball inside that the player can fire. Speaking of
which, the display has been ergonomically lowered onto the playfield to keep
your eyes closer to the action. This and
Capcom's 1996 Flipper Football were the only pinball machines
with this feature. Bold flowing and ornate artwork adorn the game with many
small details. A bright 4-foot neon tube runs nearly the entire length of the
right side of the playfield and contours alongside a ramp plastic. Near the
neon on the bottom of the playfield are pop bumpers. Their proximity to the
pins 2 flippers makes for fast play and is usually a signature feature of
pins. To make space for shots to the upper portions of
the playfield, Popadiuk included a disappearing pop bumper called the BOOM
Balloon. Not used in pinball for decades, this pop bumper retracts flush into
the playfield when not in use. Directly across from the pop bumpers is the
menagerie ball, a large plastic ball trapped within a cage above the left
kicker. The giant ball disrupts pinball direction for more randomized play.
The big toy on the playfield is the ringmaster himself as a giant head
Funhouse – “Rudy style”. Mounted on a
spring with green face and blue hair, the ringmaster is also hidden flush into
the playfield. Once players spell WOW the glowing ringmaster raises from the
playfield with the pinball held in place with a magnet. He randomly hurls the
pinball onto the playfield to start one of the 9 multi-ball modes in the
game. Popadiuk favors magnets in his games for dramatic
effect and this one is no exception including 3. Game rules and features were
later upgraded to speed up game play and correct software bugs known as 2.0H.
Cirqus Voltaire features a deep rule set with the objective to complete 9
marvels (modes) to join the Cirqus. Once you complete that, a multi-level
wizard mode automatically begins. To join the Cirqus, you have to complete
the Juggler, Acrobats, Ringmaster Frenzie, Defeat all Ringmasters, Spin, Boom!
Menagerie, Highwire Multiball and Side Show. These modes make use of the
entire playfield well. The true identity of the ringmaster will be revealed
to you once everything is completed.
Cirqus Voltaire’s speech, sound and music package are equally well done as the
rest of the game. Little details like the sounds of gears cranking away when
the ringmasters raises from the playfield to the surreal familiar circus march
as the main tune. The display animations are excellent and detailed but
sometimes too long. The home ROM 2.0H allowed players to cancel out of many
of them giving the game new legs amongst collectors. The release of the home
ROM has transformed the game from being problematic and slow into a fast
flowing and fun game. Cirqus Voltaire has a lot to offer players and
onlookers of all ages just as its real Circus counterpart.
Some of the obstacles
in the Video mode are cows and at rare occasions a "3" is one of the
One of the judges in
the bonus sequence is a cow and another judge is called DOHO. Scott Slomiany
(aka. Scott Matrix) "created" the DOHO and it stands for Doris Ho, Scott's
Sometimes when you hit
the Ringmaster, a moo is heard.
A cow sometimes fly
away as debree in the DMD animation for hitting the Ringmaster. Other debris
are bolts and pigeons.
There's a cow on the
backglass, above the acrobat to the right.
The Attract mode sound
is a moo.
Enter MOO for initials
in the high score table and the Ringmaster will pop up and say "moo!". (Game
ROM rev. 2.0 home)
Sometimes the pie that
hits the clown in the match animation is replaced with a cow, similar to the
ones that Rooney jumps over in the Video mode.
Sometimes the 1´s
digit on the display flips to a skull, a cow, a frog from Scared Stiff or a
Tommy Ticket (from Ticket Tac Toe).
In the Attract mode's
history of the circus, a cow is mentioned in two places.
John Popadiuk can be
seen as the Fabio-looking acrobat on the backglass.
In Attract mode, press
one of these codes:
B, 3L, 10R, 19L, 1R (that spells CJS)
B, 16L, 1R, 2L, 1R (PAB)
B, 13L, 15R, 15L, 1R (MOO) Start a game directly after entering this code and
the sound effect for hitting the first Ringmaster will be "moo".
B, 18L, 3R, 19L, 1R (RCS)
B, 7L, 7R, 3L, 1R (GGC)
B, 6L, 18R, 14L, 1R (FRN) Will perform a system reboot.
B, 13L, 1R, 2L, 1R (MAB, works only on 2.0 ROMs)
B, 3L, 19R, 19L, 1R (CSS, works only on 2.0 ROMs)
Please note that the L & R are reversible on all the codes to this game.