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CarnEvil is a rail shooter arcade game using a light gun.  Released by Midway Games on October 31, 1998, the game focuses on the protagonist(s) fighting their way through a supernatural carnival that features horror-themed twists on many familiar amusement park elements.


CarnEvil is set in the fictional town of Greely Valley, Iowa, wherein the unnamed protagonist take a tour through the town's cemetery. According to the story's premise, if a golden token is inserted into the mouth of the jester's head on top of the tombstone of "Professor Ludwig von Tökkentäkker", a haunted amusement park will appear after a long absence.

The protagonist investigates this legend, and fulfils the conditions of the premise; whereupon the jester's head comes to life and raises the undead carnival from the ground, all trying to take their brain. During this process, he obtains some shotguns from the shooting gallery at the entrance to fight through hordes of monsters, zombies, and insects.

The protagonist faces countless enemies in the three attractions - the Haunted House, Rickety Town, and Freak Show - and must defeat a strong 'boss character' at the end of each, as well as periodic sub-bosses. After escaping all three areas, they enter the Big Top, and fight clowns and circus animals to reach the center ring, whence they are taken to Tökkentäkker's zeppelin to face Tökkentäkker and his jester Umlaut. Tökkentäkker is defeated when the player(s) strike him into the zeppelin's propellers, causing both to collapse. Thereafter, they wake up back in the cemetery, which has returned to normal. Seeing the token emerge from the tombstone, the protagonist re-inserts it while Tökkentäkker's hostage, Betty, orders him not to do so.


CarnEvil consists of four levels, each ending with a boss fight. The first three levels can be played in any order, but the fourth cannot be accessed until all three are cleared. The players shoot enemies on the screen while progressing through amusement-park-themed horror environments. The gameplay is considerably violent and features bloody scenes throughout.

Occasionally, a girl (called Betty) will appear as an innocent. Shooting her earns a life penalty, but does not garner any long-term consequences or changes to the game.

Health and weapon power-ups can be found throughout the game. Weapons available include a machine gun, shotgun, flame-thrower, acid bath gun, and an increase in the gun's magazine capacity. They can be obtained by shooting floating icons, such as a shotgun shell or a barrel of acid, and cannot be reloaded. Grabbing these power-ups also provides bonus points to the player.

A software setting allows operators to replace Junior, a giant deformed baby, with a demonic teddy bear named Deaddy as the boss of the Freak Show level.


Haunted House

A Victorian-style mansion surrounded by a graveyard and designed as a dark ride. The player enters through the foyer and moves through the den, hallways, and kitchen before ascending to the second floor and onto the roof. Here, one of the ride's cars knocks the player into the graveyard for the boss fight.

  • Periodic sub-boss - Hambone
  • Main boss - Evil Marie; a ghoul-like woman who is bathed in blood, and is always swinging her axe.

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 to the boss fight. There is no sub-boss fight in this stage.

  • Main boss - Krampus, a deformed version of Santa Claus that has reindeer horns and deformed hands and feet.

Freak Show

An exhibition of the bizarre and astounding. The player begins in the sideshow area, then proceeds through a museum of oddities and a monkey house before entering a Tower of London-themed "Chamber of Horrors". A grisly assembly line underneath the Chamber allows the player to reach a giant playpen for the boss fight. The music of this level sounds similar to the theme from the movie Beetlejuice.

  • Periodic sub-boss - Eyeclops
  • Main boss - Junior; A giant, demonized, Frankenstein-like baby, or Deaddy, a giant, deformed Teddy Bear with claws and sharp teeth.

Ludwig von Tökkentäkker's Big Top

An immense circus tent that serves as the main attraction of CarnEvil. The player enters the tent and fights toward the center ring, using a cannon, trapeze, and tightrope to reach it. Once there, the player is taken to Tökkentäkker's zeppelin for the final battle.

  • Periodic sub-boss - Umlaut
  • Main boss - Ludwig von Tökkentäkker


  • The Protagonist- Player 1, who after hearing the story of CarnEvil, enters the local Cemetery to see whether the stories are true. Having activated the antagonists, he seizes a pump-action shotgun from the shooting gallery, intending to win his freedom with it. Contrary to popular belief, the player characters are never named in the game, official site, or manual.
  • Ludwig von Tökkentäkker- Antagonist. He sports a ringmaster outfit and brown hair, and wears a monocle set with an admission token. Although mentioned frequently, he only appears during the opening scene and as the final boss of the game, using a musket and throwing fireworks.
  • Umlaut- Secondary antagonist, known for taunting the player with rhymes and poems during the loading screens, and seen throughout CarnEvil. He becomes a sub-boss before the final battle with Ludwig von Tökkentäkker.
  • Betty-  A hostage of Tökkentäkker, who appears from time to time during the game. Shooting her reduces the player-character's health points.

The characters of Trog! make a cameo in the Freak Show section, where the cavemen are frozen in a block of ice, the label states "Frozen in time!" The Dinos of Trog! are enemies in the Rickety Town level.-


It is said to be "perhaps the most twisted video game ever" by the LA Weekly. Despite its popularity in the arcade department, the game itself was never made compatible for console.

CarnEvil original soundtrack

The original score for CarnEvil was composed by Midway's Kevin Quinn.

See also

  • Blood, known for its dark carnival themed level.

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