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When the Moon is full and trees are bare, walk through the Cemetery if you dare. Where skeletons rot and corpses fester, locate the tomb with the skull of a Jester. Feed him the token all shiny and new... It is then that CarnEvil will return for YOU!
~ The local legend of CarnEvil in Greely Valley, Iowa.
Welcome to CarnEvil!
~ Ludwig von Tökkentäkker after he and the haunted theme park of CarnEvil rose from beyond the grave.
Welcome to CarnEvil. We are visiting your town. No, that's not the walking dead... It's just a silly clown! We open every midnight and close before the dawn. Your mommy may come look for you... But by then WE WILL BE GONE!
~ Game promo
CarnEvil is the legendary haunted amusement that is filled with fantastic, yet fatal rides and nightmarish creatures, and it is both the titular main setting and the primary antagonist of the 1998 Midway rail shooter arcade game with the same name.
The unnamed protagonist takes a ghost tour through the cemetery of Greely Valley, Iowa. Following the instructions of the above poem, they abandon the tour group and find the tombstone with the head of a jester, inserting a token into its mouth. The head, called Umlaut, comes to life as the horrible theme park explodes up out of the ground, completely transforming the cemetery.
CarnEvil vanishes when the two teens defeat its ringmaster, Ludwig von Tökkentäkker, whereupon the protagonist inserts the token back into the grave (Even though he was requested not to by a girl named Betty) to test his luck again.
CarnEvil's Main Attractions
Welcome to the Haunted House. Meet a ghoul who lost her head. If you like to stay and join us, you're always welcome... Alive or dead!!
~ Umlaut introducing Haunted House
A Victorian-style mansion surrounded by a graveyard and designed as a dark ride. The player(s) fight their way through various Halloween style enemies, such as zombies, bats, spiders, ghosts, and a Jason Voorhees style Mini-boss named Hambone. You eventually make it to the second floor and onto the roof. Here, one of the ride's cars knocks the player(s) into the graveyard, where they fight the boss of the Haunted House, Evil Marie.
What goes up, must come down: now you're headed for Rickety Town! Ride all the rides, have some fun. Then eat your heart out, on a sesame seed bun!
~ Umlaut introducing Rickety Town
A traditional carnival setting that contains rides, game stalls, and a food court. The most prominent ride is the Christmas-themed "Slay Ride" roller coaster, which starts and ends the stage and delivers the player(s) to the boss fight with Krampus. In between, they are assaulted by flies, twisted elves, undead food jockeys, dinosaur mascots, and the eternally grinning mechanics all named "Mr. Smiley".
It's the freak show! The freak show, see the strange and bizarre. Step right up, we'd love to see you. We think you... Could be the star!!
~ Umlaut introducing Freak Show
An exhibition of the bizarre and astounding. the player(s) begin in the sideshow area, then proceed through a museum of oddities and a monkey house before entering a Tower of London-themed "Chamber of Horrors" where they battle Eyeclops. Along the way, they battle Flap Jacks (Men who have another torso where their legs should be) Maggot Mikes (maggots with man faces, who seem to become fly men when they mature), and spider monkeys (monkeys with eight legs). A grisly assembly line underneath the Chamber, populated by hideously tortured freaks, allows the player(s) to reach a giant playpen for the boss fight with either the giant baby Junior, or the giant teddy bear Deaddy.
Ludwig von Tökkentäkker's Big Top
You've made it to our main attraction: the three-ring circus in the big top tent. We hope our clowns will entertain you... Before making YOU the main event!!
~ Umlaut at the Big Top tent
Only opening after completing all the other levels, the big top is an immense circus tent that serves as the main attraction of CarnEvil, inhabited by all manner of evil clowns, mimes, and batboys. The player(s) enter the tent and fight toward the center ring, using a cannon, trapeze, and tightrope to reach it. Once there, the player(s) are taken to Tökkentäkker's zeppelin for the final battle.
CarnEvil Theme Park
The cryptic legend of CarnEvil.
CarnEvil rising from the grounds of Greely Valley Cemetery.
The arcade game CarnEvil was released by Midway Games on October 31 (Halloween), 1998. The release of the game was done probably in the spirit of Halloween tradition.
CarnEvil is a pun of its other name "Carnival of Evil".
In a nod to the Mortal Kombat series (which was also made by Midway), a midget clown in the Big Top level might say "Get over here, kid!", almost referring to the iconic catchphrase "GET OVER HERE!!" by Mortal Kombat's legendary Scorpion character.
A pizza in the food court section of Rickety Town has the shape of Pac-Man, which was one of Midway's earlier games.
The hero of video-game Trog! appears in the Freak Show level of the game as an attraction in the background, frozen in a block of ice and labeled "Frozen In Time!". The dinosaur characters also appear as enemies in the Rickety Town.
The "Flem the Fly" creatures in the 'Freak Show' level and the enemies in Galaga make the same sound when shot.
In the 'Big Top' level, a chalkboard turns on its axis to reveal a foolish-looking portrait of Umlaut with the words, "Umlaut is a kiss ass".
Throughout the Haunted House level, the players can find portraits of Evil Marie throughout her childhood. The first is after the player defeats the mid-boss Hambone, whereafter is a painting of Evil Marie as a child, wearing a bloody dress and holding a stained axe. This is a variation of the painting "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit", whereof the original painting lacks the blood and axe. The second detail is in the kitchen, where we see a crayon drawing of Evil Marie chopping off a man's head. Later, a wall opens to reveal a secret passageway to the attic, and shows an adult Evil Marie playing a harp.
One of the clown enemies of the last level is named "Mr. Ozob": apparently Bozo spelled backwards.
It is said to be "perhaps the most twisted video game ever" by the LA Weekly.
One popular bit of fanon states that the player 1 character is named Jacob, and player 2 is Lisa. The names are often said to be in the arcade game's manual, but this is not true.