Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top O’Fun. Gray Matter (1990) Commodore 64

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Oh Lord the depths I plumb to find games I have vague recollections of, and what nightmare fuel have I unleashed upon untold millions with that boxart!? But since I have a tonne of time on my hands and temporary access to a C64 I thought I’d revisit a console that is pretty alien to me.

Story

Impressively there is a story going on here. Basically a property developer buys a circus with the plans of demolishing it to build luxury flats and because all contracts have the “raise money through a one-off show” clause you’re given the chance to raise the funds to buy the land back. The judges of the contest are your peers or at least impartial judges who dress for the occasion then score you’re events based on performance.

It’s odd that the clowns /judges don’t rig the scores in your favour.

You as the circus loving chap (or chappette) you are try to put on one last show but unfortunately the dastardly I.M Tightwad tries to bork your final show by using the titular Freddy to wreck your events so that your final performance fails and you can’t raise the necessary funds.

It is basically the plot to The Muppets which is never a bad thing, though I wish Fiendish Freddy had a soundtrack to match The Muppets.

Gameplay

FFBToF is essentially a series of six minigames that last up to a minute if you’re good, or 5 seconds if you’re not. It is fiddly, and takes a long ass time to git gud.

Since each game is so short I can attempt to explain each one:

Diving: Press left and right to adjust your aim hoping you land in the pool, and not snap your neck.

Juggling: Couldn’t do this as a kid, still can’t. Catch the items and keep them in the air, you need to catch the bombs Freddy throws at you and you then need to lob the bombs off screen.

Trapeze: This minigame features in almost everything. It is your vine swinging platformer, key difference is you can only hold on for like .4 nano seconds before you lose grip or Freddy cuts the rope. Its bullshit.

Knife Throwing: Throw knives at a board with a spinning lady. I don’t get this one, I miss the lady every time but still get no points.

Tightrope: Think Tony Hawk’s Skating with a character with no grinding ability. Press left or right to adjust your balance with Freddy trying to bean you in the head with various objects.

Human Cannonball: You get fired out a cannon and try to land in a target… This is basically the javelin event in any athletics game and is all about the magic angle. It serves as the grand finale and was the only reason me and my mates played this game in 1990.

The problems with all of these minigames is that Freddy fucks you over in all of them so even if you are skillful and are actually good at the games you can still fail from an RNG induced butt rape. This will keep the difficulty going a little bit longer, but honestly, it isn’t reason enough to keep playing.

Freddy, what a Dilbert.

Humour

The humour still holds up relatively well, the developers didn’t go for something awful like Z did with 90s surf humour that dated as well as Saved by the Bell. It just went for daft humour slapstick humour, it might not be up your street and I don’t expect you to be gaffawing late into the night but you won’t want to stab yourself in the ears.

The loadscreens look alright

Conclusion

Ultimately Fiendish Freddy’s is 6 mediocre minigames and there isn’t much to say about it.

The music is ok, but mixed badly so is obtusely loud and distorted which is obviously annoying.

And, yeah. It just isn’t very good.

Pros: Humour holds up, bonus points for the hideous rendition of the 1812 Overture

Cons: 6 mediocre minigames that dick you over

22%

Back in the Day:

The Commodore 64 version scored mid 80s and high 60s in the reviews I can find. We clearly had low expectations in 1990

Also available on: ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST

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