In Circus Charlie players control Charlie the Clown, with each of the game's six stages being based on a different circus event and featuring slight different gameplay. Two different revisions of the game exist, one with linear stage progression and another with a stage select.
- Stage 1: Charlie rides on a lion, and must advance while jumping through flaming hoops and pots. Here, Charlie can advance at his own pace.
- Stage 2: Charlie walks on a tightrope and has to advance while jumping over monkeys which walk in the opposite direction.
- Stage 3: Charlie bounces on trampolines. This stage features no walking, as the player must time Charlie's bounces to reach the next trampoline, all while avoiding the fire breathers and sword jugglers.
- Stage 4: Charlie walks over rolling balls. Charlie has to jump from one ball to another while moving.
- Stage 5: Charlie rides a pony. The pony moves forwards by himself, and Charlie has to jump over springboards, timing his movement along with the pony.
- Stage 6: Charlie jumps on trapezes. This stage is all about timing jumps to reach the next trapeze.
The game received ports for the MSX, Commodore 64, Famicom and SG-1000, and was later included in the Konami 80's Arcade Gallery compilation for the PlayStation and the Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits compilation for the Nintendo DS.