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Continental Circus

Arcade Video game published 36 years ago by Taito Corp.

Listed in MAME

Continental Circus screenshot

Continental Circus © 1988 Taito corporation.

Continental Circus is a Formula One-styled racing game in which the player races over 8 Grand Prix circuits (loosely based on real-life circuits from back then), trying to complete one full lap before the time limit expires. The game features pit-stops and dynamic weather; the latter in the form of rain and storm.

If the player's car is hit by either a rival car, hits into a trackside barrier, checkpoint pillars, pit road barrels or billboards, the car will be damaged and begin smoking. The player must pit in at the earliest opportunity to get the car repaired, otherwise the fire will spread and the car will eventually explode.

Should the player's car have a second collision before the Pit-stop is reached, the car will explode, wasting precious time before a replacement car appears.

Continental Circus' Grand Prix tracks are as follows:
BRAZIL / Brazil GP - Qualified Rank 80
AMERICA / U.S.A GP - Qualified Rank 60
FRANCE / French GP - Qualified Rank 50
MONACO / Monaco GP - Qualified Rank 40
GERMANY / Germany GP - Qualified Rank 30
SPAIN / Spain GP - Qualified Rank 20
MEXICO / Mexico GP - Qualified Rank 10
JAPAN / Japan GP - Qualified Rank 03

Goodies for Continental Circus
Click to enlarge
(members only)

Taito Z System hardware
Board Number : K1100351A
Prom Stickers : B33

Main CPU : (2x) Motorola 68000 (@ 12 MHz)
Sound CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 4 MHz)
Sound Chips : Yamaha YM2610 (@ 8 MHz)
Screen resolution: 320x224

Players : 1
Control : Steering wheel (either locked or free, depending on dip switch) + 2 analog pedals (gas and brake; only cockpit version features both), high-low gear shift
Buttons : 1 => start (only in Japanese version)


Even if the title screen says 1987, Continental Circus was released in March 1988 in Japan.

Like Nintendo's 1981 classic, "Donkey Kong", Continental Circus was the victim of a mistake during the translation from Japanese to English. The game was originally to be called 'Continental Circuits'. All the artwork on the US games was later corrected to say 'Continental Circuit' but the original Taito PCBs are clearly labeled with the epithet 'Circus'.

F1 is often called the 'F1 circus' because it is like a big circus that travels to different cities across different continents.

Continental Circus was unique at the time in that certain cabinets came supplied with a '3D visor', through which the player viewed the action. The visor, similar in outward appearance to the one used in Atari's "Battlezone", produced a simple but effective 3D effect. This effect could be disabled by the arcade operator via the dip switch settings.

This game was released in the US and rest of the world a year later (in 1989).

The race car driven by the player is the 1987 Camel-sponsored Honda/Lotus 99T Formula 1 car as driven by Ayrton Senna (1960-1994) and Satoru Nakajima. Sponsor names such as 'Camel' and 'DeLonghi' are misspelled deliberately to prevent copyright infringement under Japanese (and every other national) law.

Special thanks are written in staff roll as "Spacial thanks".

Briefing before round 5 displays wrong country - Germany. This country exists from October 1990. But the cabinets have round 5 written correctly as W. Germany.

Mexico GP is actually former US GP west, raced on the streets of Long Beach, California.

All versions measure the speed in a kilometer per hour.

4 staff members are marked out in staff roll using pink color (see the staff section and "P" letter put into brackets).

Even when you complete the entire game, you get a game over after you enter initials.

Pony Canyon / Scitron released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Kyukyoku Tiger : G.S.M. Taito 2 - D28B0008) on November 21, 1988.


Japanese rom has copyright notice not allowing to play this game outside Japan. This version is also started differently - using start button instead of pressing accelerator pedal. Additionally, it's not licensed from US navy.

World and US ROMs are licensed from US Navy under US patent no. 4021846.


* Fast Start: Hold gas to the full during countdown; tires will smoke. Release gas quickly and hold it back to gain speed.
* Remember to drive to the pit road when the bolide is smoking. When you fail to do so, engine will fire and the screen will show "impending explosion" warning. You may not complete the stage when the bolide explodes.
* Don't forget to change tires when the rain emerges - the bolide handles worse at turns and this may also prevent you from completing the stage.
* You have no option to continue on Japan GP when the time runs out or your position is lower than #03.
* Use brakes only in emergency situations - when overtaking is difficult or before sharp turns on stages 4; 7 and 8.
* Don't turn too lightly when not required - you'll cause the bolide to spin (when you don't center the steering wheel), which will eventually make you accelerate from 0 km/h, more or less like after explosion, but without the time necessary to place the replacement bolide (approximately 5 seconds). Try to keep the steering wheel centered on the straights when you don't need to overtake.


europe Microsoft XBOX (oct.14, 2005) "Taito Legends"
europe Sony PS2 (Oct.14, 2005) "Taito Legends [Model SLES-53438]"
usa Microsoft XBOX (oct.25, 2005) "Taito Legends"
usa Sony PS2 (Oct.25, 2005) "Taito Legends [Model SLUS-21122]"
korea Sony PS2 (Jul.18, 2006) "Taito Legends [Model SLKA-15056]"
japan Sony PS2 (Jan.25, 2007) "Taito Memories II Joukan [Model SLPM-66649]"

europe Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1989)
europe Amstrad CPC (1989)
europe Atari ST (1989)
usa Commodore C64 europe (1989)
europe Commodore Amiga (1989)
europe MSX (1989)
europe PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (oct.14, 2005) "Taito Legends"
usa PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (nov.10, 2005) "Taito Legends"


Game's picture.
Game's ROMs.
Game's screenshots.
Staff roll after game completion.
See goodies section.