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Carnival Games Review

By Brian Beck, 9/18/2007

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I remember going to an occasional carnival or fair as a kid. Sure, there were rides and they could be fun, but I’m a self-admitted wuss. I don’t like roller coasters, ferris wheels or anything like that. I’ve never really figured out why, but I just know that I’ve never really enjoyed them. What drew me to these events were the games. You know, the whole “knock down 3 milk bottles” game, a ring toss or other stuff like that. They were all pretty fun to play and, despite some of them being rigged, others were really easy to win and could result in a ton of prizes.

Enter Carnival Games for the Wii. This game aims to recreate the game experience from the carnival (really, the best part) for Wii owners – there are over 25 games (some unlockable) that are all games carnival goers should be familiar with. You have the ball toss, a basketball game, a skee-ball game and many more. The big gimmick with Carnival Games is that you can hold the Wiimote in a ton of different ways to perform these tasks. The basketball game, for example, has you hold the Wiimote like a basketball and shoot while the skee-ball game has you, well, rolling a ball down the alley. Thankfully, none of these feel horribly derivative of the others. It isn't like you're going to be playing Alley Ball, then be playing a version of Alley Ball with holes on the alley or something like that – they all feel like unique games and all control differently. The question is, what else is there in this package to draw gamers in?

Well, lets see. You start off by creating a new character. This, to me, is an absolutely huge flaw. See, part of the Wii’s gimmick are the Mii characters. So naturally, you’d assume any game that uses some sort of characters would allow usage of the Miis, right? Well, no. Carnival Games has you create another character totally independent of your Mii. The features seem similar, the look of the character seems similar and, well, it feels just like you’re creating a Mii. So, why the lack of integration? I mean, some people get attached to their Miis in other games, so not being able to use them here hurts the overall product.

Anyways, after you create this character, you’ll enter the park. You can choose single player or multiplayer. Single player can be fun if you just have a few minutes to play a quick game before running off to class or work, but the unlockables don’t help to make the experience worthwhile outside of very short bursts of play. It does manage to capture the atmosphere of a carnival with the small, medium and large prizes, though – the better you perform, the better prize you will get. Still, though, multiplayer is really where this game is at. Instead of trying to get a certain score on the game to get a bigger prize, you’ll get a chance to taunt your buddy or to have a round robin game of sorts with a few people that are hanging out at your place. Even then, though, this game doesn’t seem to pull people in as well as Wii Sports has managed to do. And even in multiplayer, it isn’t going to last you much longer than 15 or 20 minutes – enough time for a friend to finish getting ready for a night of drinking or some such.

So, with that said, how well do the actual games play? The answer ends up being both good and bad. On one hand, games like Alley Ball play perfectly – the Wiimote does a good job of picking up on motions to roll the ball up the ramp and into the various scoring slots. However, other games like Balloon Darts just, for some reason, don't feel right. I really can't place my finger on it, but something about the controls doesn't feel good to me. Even in the games that don't feel right, though, the Wiimote is still well used. It is just awfully awkward to try to hold the Wiimote like a dart and throw it with the right amount of speed.

So then, is Carnival Games worth a purchase? At this point, I can't really say much better than maybe. If you're buying it to play by yourself, there's nothing much here to keep you drawn in past an hour or so of play. However, if you have friends to play it with, it is a good pickup – you can toss it in to waste a few minutes as you wait for someone, or play it for half an hour if you feel like. Even then, though, it still doesn't have the quirkiness of a Wario Ware, or the horribly addictive quality of Wii Sports. While the game manages to reach its goal of recreating a carnival atmosphere on the Wii, it just doesn't have much staying power. Maybe that's why carnivals only really come around once a year.

Overall: 70%



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