Back Story

Welcome to Circus Convoy - the first Atari 2600 game brought to you by David Crane and Garry Kitchen in 30 years! Individually numbered Circus Convoy games are available from Audacity Games, 'In Box' and in a custom game cartridge developed expressly for this game.

In this game we introduce a brand new video game character to act as your alter ego in the game adventure. We’d like to introduce this character to you, but frankly his true origin is shrouded in mystery. We can’t even tell you his real name.

Who is our hero?

What we do know is that he travels the world with the Heartland Traveling Circus, a mobile carnival and circus show that goes from city to town to backwoods community by truck convoy before setting up and entertaining small communities for a few days at a time. Our hero’s contributions to the circus acts are many and varied. It is this aspect of his personality that makes him unique.

He appears in aerial acts such as the trapeze and high wire. He performs feats of great strength as the circus’ Strong Man. His tumbling and acrobatics are second to none, and he even performs as a mentalist - reading minds and performing sleight-of-hand magic. He almost certainly appears as one of the clowns, but with his skill at disguise nobody ever knows for certain. What makes him unique, however, is that he doesn’t perform these diverse acts as himself, but appears as completely different people!

He exits his dressing trailer immersed in one of his many different character personas in order to perform where he is needed - sometimes as a headline act, and other times to fill in for sick or injured performers.

Again, nobody knows his real name or origin. His fellow circus performers only know him through the characters that he adopts in public. Because of this they have given him the name “The Chameleon”, an appropriate nickname that we have decided to adopt as well.

Some of The Chameleon’s alter egos that you will be seeing in this and future video games include:

Aleksandr (Sasha) Semenov

Trained in a small dinamo on the outskirts of Moscow, he received specialized training in soccer, gymnastics, and (of all things) volleyball. In his guise as Aleksandr he fills in as needed with the trapeze and acrobatics shows. As with all of his circus costumes, Sasha’s gymnastics tights include a cowl that obscures his face.

“The Swami”

The Chameleon also appears in the circus as an Indian mystic, known simply by the stage name “The Swami”. In this guise, wearing an extended turban that covers the top half of his face (completely obscuring his eyes), he performs mind-reading tricks. Using only the third eye imbedded in his turban he is able to see as well as if his vision was not completely obscured by his headware.

In India he was taken in by an obscure yoga cult that taught from lost sutras dating back centuries to the time of Patañjali himself. There he learned complete mind / body control that expanded his mental abilities, allowing him to perform feats of strength far beyond his apparent musculature.

Andre the Magnificent

The circus’ Strong Man, Andre appears in tights with a headband over his forehead with cutouts for his eyes. Somehow he appears to have more muscle and body mass than The Chameleon’s other alter egos. (This is passed off as either a clever disguise or due to the mind / body control skills learned in his far-Eastern training). He speaks English with an Eastern European accent likely from somewhere around the former Czechoslovakia. He appears at least a decade older than the others, but is still in good enough shape to pull a city bus with his teeth.

Any clown on the grounds

As a master of disguise, you never know if one of the clowns you see, either in the ring or performing for the crowds around the sideshows, might be The Chameleon.

Any visitor to the circus

One of The Chameleon’s greatest skills is to blend in as “Everyman”. He has learned how to blend into a crowd in such a way that you might look directly at him and not notice him. He might at one moment blend in with a group of tourists, and another minute appear to be a faceless groundskeeper.

How does he do it?

The Chameleon does not simply don a disguise, he immerses himself in a character. His transformation is so complete that it borders on multiple personality disorder. (His fellow performers never make that accusation, however, insisting that they see a twinkle in his eyes that seems to say “I know exactly who I am and what I am doing.”)

That said, his characters are flawless. As Sasha he can speak for hours about his upbringing in Russia (in either accented English or fluent Russian), including stories of the training methods used in the dinamos that are used to build world-class athletes.

The Swami speaks Hindi as a native, but when speaking English sounds like he was taught Oxford English in London from birth. As he tells it, his introduction to the yogi who ultimately trained him came at a time when he was what we would call an “army brat”, living with his father who was serving with the British Armed Forces in India.

In short, no one has ever found so much as a crack in his characters’ histories, including language, culture, terminology, or facts. More than that, he consistently demonstrates that he actually has the skills he claims. Everyone who knows him believes that he has truly undergone the combined study and training claimed by his alter egos. With mastery of such a combination of training and martial skills, The Chameleon may be one of the most formidable human beings on the planet.

His Trailer

As noted, he has never left his trailer out of character, and no fellow circus performer has ever (knowingly) seen his real face. Nor is anyone allowed to set foot in, or even peek into his private domain. Fitted with a state-of-the-art security system, and equipped to make his transformations possible, The Chameleon’s trailer is sacrosanct.

All in all it seems like a lot of effort to go to in order to entertain a few people in the backwoods of the world.

So why does he do it?

He clearly doesn’t need the money. One look at his trailer and you could tell that. (And if anyone knew all of the trailer’s secrets they would see it might be worth more than the entire circus.) When his fellow performers asked him why he was with them, it should come as no surprise that they got a different answer from each persona.

But all answers boiled down to a noncommittal “I like to entertain, and I prefer to do so in front of small, rural crowds who appreciate what we do.”

(Or he gives the tongue-in-cheek answer “I do it for the junk food. What better place for that than the circus?”)

I’m sure both are true, to some extent. But we know the real reason. The Chameleon lives to empower the powerless. We assume that at some point in his mysterious upbringing he experienced a situation where ordinary people were being exploited by the powerful or corrupt in their community. With half a lifetime of martial training, he now has the power to positively affect the lives of people who can’t fight back on their own.

When his responsibilities to the circus are finished each day, our hero sneaks out to the local community, either in disguise or under the cover of darkness, and investigates those in power. He does whatever he can to fight injustice wherever he finds it.

But we will have to cover those exploits in later stories.