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FAQ by ASchultz

Version: 1.0.0 | Updated: 04/12/02

Circus Charlie FAQ
version 1.0.0
copyright 2002 by Andrew Schultz schultza@earthlink.net

Please do not redistribute this FAQ for profit without my consent. I 
write these documents for the memories and to help others to relive them 
as well, and in addition Circus Charlie is a pretty tough game. However, 
sending me an e-mail asking me for this game 1. by its name and 2. by my 
first name *should* get you a more favorable response, although I am 
very bad about responding to e-mails.

        **AD SPACE**

My home page:















  Circus Charlie is a cute little game with six sub-games. You get to 
choose which one you play so you can play the same one five straight 
times. The only restriction is that once you start playing it you must 
finish it or die. In each game Charlie moves from left to right and 
tries to survive a performance(i.e. not touch anything except money bags 
or gold coins) and is timed. Time is usually just a factor for bonuses. 
For only being able to move left/right and jump Circus Charlie can do a 
whole lot. It's one of my favorite classic arcade games, with lots of 
cute graphics(Charlie's different colored shoes for example) and the 
patterns to do well in it are far from obvious.

  The six levels are listed below:

1. ride a lion through fire hoops and over fire pots
2. jump over monkeys while on a tightrope
3. bounce on trampolines, avoid flame breathers and sword jugglers
4. jump among giant beach balls
5. ride a horse, don't smack into obstacles
6. trapeze

  In-FAQ terminology:

*wave* is the sub-level you are on. For instance, your third time 
playing level 1 in the game would be level 1, wave 3.


    You can start on any level you choose. However you may only proceed 
through that level five times before "NO MORE" appears on the screen and 
you'll have to choose another. The exception is level six, which can be 
played endlessly.

    Extra men occur at 20000 and every 70000 thereafter. You can also 
get a free man on level 1 if you know what to do.

    You also get a bonus if you finish your level before time runs 
out(if time runs out, you lose a life.) The bonus list is as follows

   0- 499:200

    Much of the time 4500 will not be possible; however, there will be 
other ways to gain points(such as grabbing money bags.) In addition when 
you lose a man you start with a fixed number of bonus points based on 
where you lost him. It ranges from 2500 or so to 4500(near the end to 
the beginning.)

    What I like about Circus Charlie is how you can define the sort of 
game you want to play. Do you want to focus on a certain level that gets 
slowly harder? Or do you want a variety? The game encourages a variety, 
placing you at the next level after you've solved one. However, if you 
want the longest game, you may want to beat up level 1, then 2, then 3, 
then 4. Levels 5 and 6 are a bit tough.

    If there is one flaw in Circus Charlie it is that you may get 
diminishing or similar returns for harder waves as you progress through 
the levels, and it also provides diminishing returns for later levels. 
Plus level 4 is not so fun to play too often. And I don't like how you 
frequently wind up with a mushy average starting time if you die, the 
range should be wider if it's changed, or you should be given [time OR a 
minimum.] This is debatable though.


    Charlie rides a lion and jumps it through fiery hoops and over pots 
of fire. While in later waves the pairs of hoops which he must face get 
farther apart, their timing is predictable as they usually appear every 
few seconds and in a pre-set order. This level also has a couple of 
goodies where you can pick stuff up.
    There are four obstacles in the stage: fire pots you must jump over, 
single hoops you must jump through(you can jump back through them but 
it's quite hard,) double hoops, and high hoops with money in them. You 
can't pass under the lower hoops but you can avoid the high hoops and 
forfeit a potential bonus.

    Jumping through one hoop      100
    Over fire, through one hoop   300
    Over fire, through two hoops  400
    Over fire                     500(a bit paradoxical there)
    First money bag in high hoop  1000(+points for the hoop)
    Xth money bag                 X000
    Gold coin coming out of fire  3000
    Bonus for collecting all $$   1840

    WAVE 1

    At the start of the level, push left and jump three times in a row. 
When you start off to the right a Circus Charlie clone will appear 
hanging from the line that carries the fire hoops. Pick him up for an 
extra life even if you don't get any points for him. This works in all 
    There's only one pair of double hoops and you only get 4 money bags-
-3 if you go straight through. But if you wait, a fourth will turn up. I 
generally try to solve this with 400 bonus time left. You can get 14840 
from gold coins and money bags so why not?
    The important basics to learn are to time your jumps so you don't 
land in the fire. One thing to note is that if you travel left away from 
the goal, old hoops will appear, but old fire pots will not. Back up and 
try to jump in the high hoops. Also try the combo jump in a high hoop 
and over a fire pot. If you jump backwards over the fire pot a gold coin 
is more likely to flip out of it, although again timing is important 
here. Jump backwards at the wrong time and you won't be able to catch 
the gold coin as it falls without killing yourself.
    I have trouble finding the gold coin so I just jump back/forwards 
over every pot I get to.
    One thing you should notice about jumping backwards/forwards is that 
the lion's forward jump is slightly longer than the backwards jump.

    WAVES 2-5

    The hoops are a bit farther apart but you get 5 money bags here now. 
This is an opportunity for big points--over 25000 if you manage things 
right! Remember the lion jumps at about a sixty degree angle. By wave 5 
you have very little room for error.


    Here Charlie must jump over a variety of brown(slow) and 
purple(fast) monkeys on a tightrope. Generally this is not too bad but 
the problems occur when the brown and purple come in tandem. There's 
also a problem with how Circus Charlie jumps at the end. His usual high-
angle jump is replaced by a distance one, and it is a cruel surprise to 
the uninitiated. As you go through the waves there are more split-second 
decisions to make, but this is, as you'd expect from level 2, one of the 
easier waves. You also have a shot at 5000 points at the end even if 
you've lost a guy. Also if you lose a guy the brown monkeys for the next 
bit are removed but there still may be purple ones.
     You can get 19000 points per level if you complete this one 
successfully. Even if things go wrong this is probably the most 
lucrative for players who aren't quite experts yet.

  brown monkeys        200
  purple monkeys       300
  brown + 1 purple    1000
  brown + 2 purple    2000
  money bags at end   5000[you get points for jumping over any monkey 
that runs below before you land too.]

    WAVE 1

    You can pretty much go forward and jump through here whenever you 
see a brown monkey. A general rule of thumb is that if you see two brown 
monkeys in a row, jump a bit early. Jump too late and you may hit the 
brown monkey in back. Also if there is a row of brown monkeys you may 
want to jump straight up just to be safe. However if there is nothing 
behind the brown monkey you will want to wait to jump. If you jump 
early, and a purple monkey comes in from the right, you are in trouble.
    Moving backwards once a monkey has appeared is no good, but 
fortunately with proper timing you can jump over any one monkey. When in 
doubt with purple monkeys, wait until the last minute. Your shoe can 
touch them when you jump and you'll be OK.
    The end is also a bit tricky. When you get there and see the 
finishing platform, NEVER jump forward with two monkeys in a row lined 
up as you will touch the back one. However if no-one is in back you can 
make a dash to the right side. If you make it all the way to the right 
you can jump straight up when the money appears for an extra 5000 
    I don't believe it's possible to get over 4500 time on this 
level(4490 or so with best play, or 5000 bonus) so you might as well 
spend the extra time to try to pick up the money. Just be sure to use 
evasive action and move backwards if a monkey comes from the right 
    Purple monkeys also pass brown monkeys and are the first ones you 
jump over here.

    WAVE 2

    A bit tougher than wave 1, this features two purple monkeys at a 
time. The same principles still apply, but your timing needs to be a bit 
more exact. Brown monkeys also appear in longer strings and closer 
together. Again you can't get the 10000 bonus so settle for the 
    Purple monkeys don't jump over brown monkeys before you reach them 
now, and you see your first lone purple monkey at the start.

    WAVE 3

    You can actually make the full 10000 bonus here! Once again the 
principles are the same as waves 2 and 3. However purple monkeys start 
out passing brown ones before you jump them and flip-flop halfway 

    WAVE 4

    A few nasty wrinkles here. At 50 meters there will be two browns and 
a purple squeezed together. An early jump forward followed by a jump 
straight up will help you shake them, and the rest is as previously 

    WAVE 5

    Similar to wave 4, there's one place where you need to be especially 
vigilant. Just before 40 meters you need to make two straight-up jumps 
in a row.    


    Here Circus Charlie jumps from drum to drum avoiding balls of flame 
from firebreather and juggling swordsmen. He can also jump backwards but 
there is little point in that--the level 1 trick for an extra man 
doesn't seem to work here. Each sub-level has twenty-two jumps Charlie 
must navigate and there is even a special semi-bonus wave after the 
second and fourth waves. He can jump three times on any one trampoline 
drum before busting through the roof. It becomes tougher to wait to 
avoid fire or swords as the levels increase.

    To be sure you'll avoid flame breathers, if they are breathing 
flames before you start to jump, you should make it. Similarly if there 
are swords that appear to be obstructing a jump to the right, go for it. 
Remember it's not where they are but where they'll go. A swordsman not 
juggling is actually most dangerous.

    Observant players(or those with graph paper such as myself who can 
see elementary patterns) will note that the money bags are always in the 
same place on any level.

  20 points for bouncing successfully to the next drum
(440 total)
 300 points for 1st money bag(reset if you die)
 400 for the next
 500 for the next
 600 for the next
 700 for the next
 800 for the next
 900 for the next
1840 bonus for collecting them all and not losing a life

Total=6480 which is not worth it on the first wave but if you are 
willing to risk it later, it can mean more points. 

    For level descriptions I've decided to go with a chart.

F=fire breather
!=wait before you jump in a bonus round or fish will get you
1/2/3/4/5/6=10m markers, etc.

    WAVE 1
       6     5     4     3     2     1     0
        $   $     $       $   $       $   $

  You don't have to bounce on the trampoline before jumping over a ball 
of fire here. You'll just make it over. However you'll have to bounce up 
once before bouncing across the juggling swords. Note also that if you 
see two swordsmen in a row and you bounce up once, you can bounce right 
twice and make it past both of them. Firemen/swordsmen start their 
routine once they are in view. If you go off the screen and back on they 
will start up again.

    WAVE 2A
       6     5     4     3     2     1     0
        $   $     $       $   $       $   $

  Similar to wave 1 except you need to be more careful of the fire 
breathers. It's also pretty easy to pick up the money here and it may be 
prudent as you can't quite get the full bonus here. There are nine 
firemen that trip you up just enough that you will wind up with 4494 
time or so max if you don't lose a guy.

  However a rule of thumb here is that you need only bounce up once or 
not at all. If you do so consistently this level is a breeze.

    WAVE 2B
       6     5     4     3     2     1     0
        $   $     $       $   $       $   $

  Just start pulling right until you're just before the 40M sign. Let 
Charlie bounce up once, then bounce all the way until you can see the 
goal sign(or go past the 10m sign then one more.) Wait once and then 
bounce all the way right. You should also be able to get all the money 
bags but overall this wave is a bit unfair to first-timers as you will 
get nailed.

    WAVE 3
       6     5     4     3     2     1     0
        $   $     $       $   $       $   $

  Similar to wave 2 except even more caution is required as the bad guys 
are even more dense. See 2a's rule of thumb for the quick solution.
  Haven't tested getting the money.

    WAVE 4A
       6     5     4     3     2     1     0
        $   $     $       $   $       $   $

  This is similar to wave 2 and seems slightly easier than wave 3.
  Haven't tested getting the money all through but it seems workable.

    WAVE 4B
       6     5     4     3     2     1     0
        $   $     $       $   $       $   $

  As in 2B knowing when to jump is the key here. When you are just 
before 50 meters do the up/right bounce three times in a row. Then wait 
until just before ten meters and do the up/right twice in a row. Again 
this wave is a bit unfair and I haven't tested getting the money bags 
but it should be ok. Anyway you easily get 10000 bonus points for 
burning straight through the level without losing a guy.
    WAVE 5
       6     5     4     3     2     1     0
        $   $     $       $   $       $   $

  Now this is where it gets nasty. The major nuance here is that you 
must bounce up three times before jumping over the flame breathers. On 
the bright side once you do you don't need to wait for the sword 
twirlers. I know for a fact that you will have trouble picking up the 
later money bags going straight through. You will have to jump backwards 
after collecting some of them. It is certainly a challenge, and given 
that I can't start on this wave I haven't really concentrated on 
formulating a pattern.

    As the details for the last few waves are a bit sketchy I have a 
request here. Note that if you jump backwards and forwards, flame 
breathers and sword jugglers re-appear. This happens after you die; the 
obstacles don't appear the first ten meters after you jump, but if you 
go back and forward they do. Obviously then you can test your timing 
even if you mess up. If anybody can use this information to craft out a 
pattern I would love to hear about it and would give credit in this FAQ.


    Circus Charlie starts out balancing on a ball. He must keep jumping 
right to the next ball until he gets to the goal platform. Because balls 
move in from the right he must time his jumps, and because they come in 
randomly there also needs to be a general strategy to make progress(it 
is not totally trivial.) If Charlie sees a ball to the right he can move 
to the right in hopes he can jump over it onto another one, or he can 
make very slow progress by backtracking and jumping to the right.

    Charlie dies if he misses a jump or if one ball jostles yours. Once 
you jump off a ball it rolls off to the left(and through other balls.)

    This is probably the most uniform of the Circus Charlie levels--
between waves, even though the balls come randomly from the right. The 
general strategy never changes, but it's hard to find a specific 
pattern. I am unable to find any differences between waves 1 and 5 
except maybe that balls come out a bit quicker. This level is really 
very simple but it is tough to figure when to jump. Fortunately you get 
a good deal of leeway and I find that 1/4 to 1/3 of the screen is a good 

  100 points for jumping from one ball to the next
  100 points for jumping backwards
  500 points for jumping from one ball, over the next, to the one after 

    I've found that there are a bunch of balls in a row at the very end, 
so you'll need--and be able--to execute a few 500-point jumps.

    My general rule of thumb is, when I see a ball coming in from the 
right(it doesn't appear from the screen edge) to go for the slow 
progress. It's not terribly exciting, but time can become a factor if 
you go for the extra-point jumps and get a long string of single balls 
standing in your way.

    I find I can finish this level with 3000-3700 time left although if 
I lose a guy early it is tough to pull through. This is the least 
rewarding(in points) of all the levels, but it is also the most 


    Circus Charlie rides a horse and can change its speed while Charlie 
rides it or jumps over bars. He gains points for bouncing on the bars. 
As the waves go by, and as you get farther on any one wave, the 
platforms get narrower and narrower. The platforms are at various 
heights and sometimes Charlie can duck under one.

    Tricks to master include:
1. changing horse speed before a tricky set of bars(moving slowly all 
the way works. You have plenty of time.)
2. changing horse speed when on a bar(you can't change speed in midair, 
3. You may want to go fast after hitting the first bar and slow after 
the second. If you go fast after hitting the second bar you are very 
vunerable to running into the bar that is just off the screen.

    You get more points if you're going fast and bounce on a bar. If you 
bounce on the same one several times your points keep doubling. The 
second bar gets more points than the first, and the higher the bar is 
the more points you get. There is no penalty for jumping over a bar but 
you don't get points--this is reasonable. It's safer to duck a bar or 
jump over it without bouncing, as Charlie is not fully under your 

    Bars 160-360 points depending on height for normal speed
    Each subsequent bounce before touching pony doubles previous value

    Note that even if you go extra slow you can still make it to the end 
of level with plenty of time to spare. Wave 5, where you most need to do 
so, leaves you with >3500 time if you make no errors(you start with 5500 
and slow is about half speed of normal.) However even going extra slow 
still doesn't preclude knocking into the bar on the way up so if you see 
something coming in the distance you'll need to have a feel for the 
timing so that you don't run into a bar off a bounce. That's your main 
risk; as bars come in pairs mostly, the first one is easy to avoid, but 
you need to jump correctly so you avoid the second one.

    If you just want to pass the level, you can duck a lot of bars and 
go very slowly. That won't help your score much, but this level requires 
a combination of quick reflexes and/or memorization or a combination 
thereof. You can tell which bars you can duck by the simple strategy--if 
the bar is halfway between the two grey horizon lines or above, Charlie 
can go under it.

    WAVE 1

    You do not need to change Charlie's speed for this. If you act so 
you will make it with 4550 time left for the full bonus.
    In all cases the first bar is easy to jump on, but after that things 
get tougher.
    The shortest bar you have to jump on is 4 units wide.

    WAVE 2

    Quick reflexes are needed here at some points. After 80 meters you 
cannot continue on the default speed. Slow up on hitting the second bar. 
Also slow up before you jump at the bars around 20 meters.
    The shortest bar you have to jump on is 3 units wide.

    WAVE 3

    Be sure to go extra slow around the 30 meter bars.
    The shortest bar you have to jump on is 2 units wide.

    WAVE 4

    The 100m bar is particularly nasty.
    The shortest bar you have to jump on is 1 unit wide. The first 
instance of this occurs at 90 meters.

    WAVE 5

    The shortest bar you have to jump on is 1 units wide but you will 
see several of these in a row, and in fact you may see three in short 
succession(only two of any bar in the previous waves.)


    Circus Charlie must swing from one rope to the next until he reaches 
the very elevated platform at the end, where he gets a nice surprise. 
There is no going backwards. He also has drums to bounce on which can 
help him, and there are opportunities for big bonus jumps.

    This is probably the hardest of all the levels to master once. 
Despite that there are no immediate dangers, it is tough to judge when 
to jump. The first few times I tried this I didn't even score any 
points. Here are the rules:

1. Momentum plays a big part in when Circus Charlie should jump.
2. If he jumps too late, he won't get any jump at all. This may be good 
if the next rope is coming up close. If he jumps at a 45 degree 
angle(remember he will jump PERPENDICULAR to the current rope angle) he 
will go the farthest.
3. Charlie can only grab the bottom of the rope, not the middle.
4. Charlie can stop a rope swinging partially once he jumps on it. This 
is consistent with conservation of momentum/energy but is annoying to 
figure how to deal with it. Simply move the joystick in the direction 
Charlie is going, just like he was on a swing on a playground swingset.
5. If Charlie stays too long on any one swing, he will eventually fall 
off. How much time you have can be seen by how much of the rope is dull 
red. It starts off bright red.
6. The ropes always swing at different speeds(the one Charlie is on vs. 
the one he must jump to) so you can always time things to jump from one 
to the next within the waiting period. You will have several chances.

Keeping these steps in mind here is my strategy:

    Rock back and forth for maximum trapeze motion if you don't have it 
already. Try to wait for the ropes to be near their apex and you will 
always make it. You can also jump when your rope is near the apex and 
the other is coming up--Charlie goes up in the air a bit and so in 
effect you have a time buffer.

    You also have other ways to jump from one rope to another. The drums 
are very useful for this. If you are at the bottom of your swing and the 
drum is after the next rope, jump and Charlie will go in a horizontal 
direction and get a big bounce right. If he grabs the rope that just 
appeared on the screen, you get 5000 points. Also you can drop onto the 
drum just in front of you and tap right when you think Charlie can 
bounce slightly to the right and catch the rope. Charlie gets three 
bounces before he goes through the roof, but he may also pick up the 
previous rope(no points for that, but no harm either.)

    It's inevitable that you'll get the full bonus of 10000 if you 
complete this level without losing a man. However it's not easy to do 
so. Usually you'll lose a guy and wind up with <3000 time left. 
Obviously this is the most potentially lucrative level, but it requires 
the most patience.

    Another factor which makes this level that much harder is that, if 
you mis-judge the final jump(it is tougher to get right than it looks) 
you are kicked back to 10+ meters, meaning you have to make three leaps 
in a row to win the level.

    Different waves don't have many differences although the ropes seem 
to be a bit shorter and less synchronized. So it is hard to give a 
specific strategy although for the first level I find that three half 
swings, jump, half swing, jump is a great start.

    Overall level six is extremely hard. It requires the timing of level 
three but without the rigid sort of multiple choice that level 
possesses. And without money bags or enemies it has a depressing 
sameness about it.

    Point totals:
    Up to 1000 points for a regular successful jump if it is done right 
away. This decreases with each dull red dot that appears on the trapeze 
    2000 points for grabbing a short trapeze(with the shapes on the end) 
wire on the first swing. Otherwise you get the standard points.
    5000 points for a jump skipping a trapeze wire



1.0.0: sent to GameFAQs 4/12/2002, should be complete. I am missing some 
small details that may take too much time to track down but wanted to 
send a general help document.

Thanks to mame.net and the cheats department for allowing me to look 
into this creative and challenging game before I got anywhere near being 
good at it.

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