From Sega Retro
|System(s): Sega Mega Drive|
|Publisher: Sega (US), Tec Toy (Brazil)|
|Sound driver: GEMS|
|Peripherals supported: Six Button Control Pad|
|Number of players: 1-2|
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Nightmare Circus is a Sega Mega Drive action beat-'em-up game developed by Funcom and published by Tec Toy. Originally scheduled for a December 1995 North American release, issues during development and the dwindling lifespan of the Sega Genesis caused publisher Sega to back out, and while nearing completion had its production formally cancelled. While unfinished from a design standpoint, the game was stable enough on a technical level to see the credits; eventually, the game was picked up for the Brazilian market by Tec Toy and saw an official boxed release there in June 1996. Six months later, Nightmare Circus did eventually see a North American release, broadcast via Sega Channel as one of the system's more notable downloadable exclusives.
Boasting a complete lack of any player direction or indication on how to proceed, a highly complex but largely unexplained control scheme, and a notable amount of unfinished content, Nightmare Circus has become known for its unfortunate modern reputation as one of the worst video games ever released. Unlike other games which legitimately deserve the title, Nightmare Circus also boasts a significant amount of well-considered features and a level of very visible passion that, while presented with striking inconsistency, notions its faults to instead the result of a development cycle cut short - and the subsequent commercial release of a game that was almost-but not quite finished.
|“||When the Circo del Diablo first began setting up its tents on the edge of the city, people began to gather to purchase tickets for its opening night.
— BR manual
Nightmare Circus is an action game with elements of linear beat em’ ups and action-platformers. As a native shaman warrior, Raven has an extensive repertoire of both physical and PSI-based attacks, the latter of which will expend his dedicated PSI meter.
Free to explore the different stages of the carnival at will, the game presents nothing in the way of direction during gameplay and players are left to themselves to creatively interpret the game’s visual cues to proceed. While some stages are fairly straightforward, others can only be completed by more obtuse methods, with the game as a whole having very little player feedback to indicate progression.
Locked behind the password screen is the Tweaker, an extensive debug menu that allows minute alterations to things like hitboxes, variables, and even the game’s gravity - the range of Raven’s attacks can be extended, for example, or the capacity of his PSI meter increased. Entering a second password additionally expands this menu with a level select. Accessing the Tweaker again during gameplay will display an additional list of variables specific to the stage being played, so enemies and obstacles can have their variables adjusted at any time the player chooses.
Referred to by the game’s manual and advertising as U PROGRAM technology, and in-game as the Tweaker, the menu is extensively developed and properly labelled, and unlike the majority of debug modes was actually intended for use by players. The manual even details the menu’s control scheme and additionally offer possible ideas for players to alter gameplay, stating “the possibilities are nearly endless.”
|The Ticket Office|
|Jack in the Floor|
|Looking Glass Man|
|Ying Yang Brother|
- Main article: Nightmare Circus/History.
- Producer: Max Taylor
- Designer: Ricardo Pinto
- Lead Programmer: Johan Andersson
- Lead Artist: Lars P. Anfinssen
- Asst. Producers: Dante Andersson, Trond W. Larsen
- Programmers: Martin Gram, Carsten Sørensen, Morten B. Ofstad
- Engine Programmers: Morten B. Ofstad, Carl Skârstedt
- Graphics Concepts: James Worall
- Artists: Torkell Bernsen, Colin McMahon, Tom Gjerde, Mikael Noguchi, Ernie Deakyne
- Music: Kurt Harland, Jim Hedges, Andy Armer
- Sound Effects: Kurt Harland, Brian Coburn, Kim Jensen
- Level Editor: Gard E. Rødahl
- Game Tweakers: Joel Breton, Ernie Deakyne, Ron Allen, Joe Cecchin, Marcus Montgomery
- Lead Tester: Joel Breton
- Asst. Lead Testers: Ernie Deakyne, Joe Cecchin, Tim Hess, Marcus Montgomery, Billy Martorana, Ron Allen
- Testers: Jack Amato, Alfred Dutton, Kim Rogers, Rick Greer, Jason Deguzman, John Amirkhan, Ed Ramirez, Tony Ciardella, Donovan Soto, Sherry Blevins, Kemrexx George, Chris Sur, Scott Crisostomo, Daniel Tyrell, Kenny Robinson, Bine Arceo, David Wood, Chris Lucich, Mark Griffin, Jeff Loney, Lance Nelson, Don Carmichael, Dermott Lyons, Mark Subotnick, Dave Paniagua, Joe Cain, Mark Paniagua, Joe Damon, Rob Prideaux, Maya De Campos, Sean Doidge, Jeremy Campbell, Jeremy Caine, Tai Huynh, Alex Barrerio, Jeff Silveira, Rolef Conlan, Matt Clerici, Anthony Desantis, Chris Johnson, Michael Ironside, Dave Asgharzadeh, Michael Douglas, Nathan Tan, Jeremy Wheat, The Big Top Mice, Zenon Thornton, Robbie Pasquini, Deserae Shanklin, Chris Baetz, Chris Cates, Charles Delay, Conner Morlang, Geoff Jones, Martin Broenkow, Roger Sommerville, George Sandoval, Ovanji Powell, Kenneth Chan, Tomothy McKnew, Christina Hurley, Six Button Bill, Toad Slepian, Sally Perlman, Joann Eastman, Pat Walsh, Phil Gamble, Geoffrey Meyers, Demian Kato, Andrew J Nolley, Darren Nagtalon, Abe Navarro
- Tools Programmers: Blue House Prod., Morten B Ofstad, Andre Johansen, Svein Aandahl, Eivind Eklund, Jesper Hansen
- Product Managers: John Garner, Bill Onderdonk
- Comic Liaison: Jennifer Hunn
- Production Asst.: Tormod Mansaker, Christian Almskog
- Special Thanks: Erik Gloersen, Jack Kristoffersen, Tommy Svensson, Joachim Barrum, Mark Miller, Terry Tang, Suzie Greene, Joyce Takakura, Larry Loth, Camp Winnarainbow
- Main article: Nightmare Circus/Magazine articles.
|Sega Retro Average|
ROM dump status
- Official website (1997) (Wayback Machine)
- Nightmare Circus (2013) at The Nightmare in Galápagos (Japanese) (Wayback Machine)
- http://www.funcom.com/corporate/published/nightmare.html (Wayback Machine: 2000-08-18 05:47)
- http://www.funcom.com/corporate/games.html (Wayback Machine: 1998-01-19 22:00)
- File:Nightmarecircus md br manual.pdf, page 7
- File:NightmareCircus MD BR Box.jpg
- http://www.funcom.com/corporate/nightmare.html (Wayback Machine: 1998-01-19 23:05)
- Sega Visions, "September 1995" (US; 1995-xx-xx), page 100
- http://www.sega.com/channel/now/4.html (Wayback Machine: 1997-06-05 18:45)
- Sega Channel
- https://nightmarecircus.proboards.com/thread/2/end (Wayback Machine: 2022-01-08 08:45)
- File:Nightmarecircus md br manual.pdf, page 5
- File:Nightmarecircus_md_br_manual.pdf, page 15
- http://www.angusm.demon.co.uk/AGDB/DBA1/Cyberco3.html (Wayback Machine: 2020-01-15 05:23)
- 1700 igr dlya Sega, "" (RU; 2003-xx-xx), page 211
- Tricks 16 bit, "Tricks Sega Gold 800 igr" (RU; 1998-xx-xx), page 130