Cirqus Voltaire

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4.19 / 5
Average Prices: USD $2,200 to $5,800
Manufacturer: Bally
Produced: October, 1997
Production Run: 2,704 units
Machine Type: Solid State Electronic
MPU: Williams WPC-95
Players: 4
Concept by: John Popadiuk
Design by: John Popadiuk, Cameron Silver
Art by: Linda Deal (aka Doane)
Dots/Animation by: Adam Rhine, Brian Morris
Mechanics by: Jack Skalon, Louis Toy
Music by: Dave Zabriskie, Rob Berry
Sound by: Rob Berry
Software by: Cameron Silver
Cirqus Voltaire is a 1997 pinball game, designed by John Popadiuk and released by Midway Games (under the Bally label). The theme involves the player performing many different marvels in order to join the circus. Some of the captivating features include a neon light running along the right-hand ramp, a pop bumper that rises up from the middle of the playfield at certain times, and a mini-playfield at the top of the center ramp with a magnet to catch the ball for locking. The most notable feature is the Ringmaster, a head that rises at certain times and makes cracks against the player.

It was the first Williams/Bally pinball machine missing a real replay-knocker, a device driven by a coil to produce a loud bang when hammering against the wood of the cabinet or backbox. Instead this sound effect was pre-recorded and played via the regular speakers. It was also the second machine (after Capcom's Flipper Football, released in 1996) to move the DMD from the backbox right into the cabinet, so the player isn't distracted from gameplay when watching the DMD (an idea that was taken to the maximum with the Pinball 2000 architecture two years later).

Game Modes
This games features nine "marvels" the player must complete before they are invited to "Join the Circus." Each string of marvels leads to one letter, so that when all marvels are complete, the word C-I-R-Q-U-S is spelled, and the player must either the left or right orbit to try and join the cirqus.
The Ringmaster
The Ringmaster normally resides below the playfield, but after lighting the three WOW targets, he rises up and makes cracks at the player. There is a magnet underneath the top, and he will trap the player's ball. After challenging the player, the ball is randomly thrown somewhere onto the playfield. The game includes a brief ball saver mode, just in case he throws it into the drain.

As shown in the picture, there are five diamonds around the Ringmaster's neck. After hitting the Ringmaster five times, he rises up to reveal a hole underneath. Shooting the ball into the hole defeats the Ringmaster. Depending on the game's settings, this may start a multiball mode.

The first time the player confronts the Ringmaster, he always says "I am the Ringmaster. Defeat me for the Ringmaster marvel."

After that, he has other things to say:At other times, when the Ringmaster is not visible, but the ball passes over him and hits a WOW target, the magnet will switch on and change the path of the ball, and trigger a response.
Multiball Modes

This game features eight multiball modes:There are other modes where the player has multiple balls in action, but these are not considered "multiball modes", such as the wizard mode where every ball is put in play.

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Auction Results

Cost Location Date
AUD $13,088 New South Wales, Australia 25 January, 2024
USD $14,600 United States 04 May, 2022
USD $14,999 United States 07 January, 2022
GBP 4,301 United Kingdom 08 November, 2020
USD $10,456 United States 16 August, 2020
USD $10,999 United States 12 August, 2020
USD $7,950 United States 29 May, 2020
USD $6,900 United States 01 March, 2020
GBP 7,088 Czech Republic 13 October, 2019
USD $6,500 United States 15 September, 2019

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