When we heard that Carnival Games for Wii had sold over 1.5 million copies we knew we had to go and take a look at the game. Who doesn’t like to go to the fair? Of course, no one, that’s who! Everyone loves going to the fair, where else besides Disneyland can you get expensive rides, tacky stalls, badly cooked food and old men dressed up as animals? Carnival Games Wii with over 25 genuine Carnival games tries to recreate all the fun and frolics of going to the Carnival in the comfort of your own home – it sounds a multiplayer smash, but does it deliver the prizes?
Upon first entering the Carnival you are first asked if you want to play in Single Player or Multiplayer mode, either way your next job is to create your own character from a few basic features such as gender, face shape, hair colour, clothes and accessories. There isn’t much choice to start with and creations can look very similar – however the more you play the game you’ll unlock different outfits and other pieces to customize your character with later on.
Right you’ve now got a body – well most of a body! Just like Ubisoft’s Rayman, most of the characters in Carnival Games have no arms, and no, we’re not sure why. From here if you chose Single Player you now have to decide which part of the Carnival you want to travel to.
There are five Carnival areas; Fortune Way, Claw Alley, Love Lane, Lucky Pass, and Rodent Row. You would think those names suggest the overall theme behind the games to be located in that area, well if you did then you would be wrong. The name merely refers to the prize event/machine you can use within that area. Never mind though, everything does look and feel like you’re in a 1950’s carnival – you even get that mild sinister feeling from the old movies about travelling carnivals as you play, though don’t worry, there aren’t any serial killing clowns.
Here are three of our favourite games, but there are many more to play that everyone is bound to find a few they really like.
- Hoops – throwing those cute mini basketballs into a net never gets tiring
- Spilt Milk – try and knock a stack of empty milk bottles over with a ball, simple but great.
- Balloon darts – hold the Wiimote like a dart and try to pop small balloons stuck to the wall, another simple game but it’s quite compelling.
Ok to the Singleplayer: The Carnival Games single player mode is as you would expect, a solo trawl across every Carnival game trying to get the best score you can. The better you perform the more tickets you can win; tickets can be spent on some of the attractions in each area such as a Fortune Telling machine. You can also exchange tickets for new items in the character creation menu to further increase the choice. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s boring to play Carnival Games on your own, but the experience is better with others.
Now to Multiplayer: The great and unusual thing about Carnival Games Wii is that the multiplayer mode lets you earn tickets as you play too; typically games like this only let you earn rewards when you play through the singleplayer mode. For sure, as with any party game, Carnival Games is more fun with friends, there is a nice mixture of minigames that require you to take it in turns or play together in real time – if you only have one controller you can simply choose the one Wii Remote option in the multiplayer setup menu.
The good: Carnival Games is a nicely presented and atmospheric minigame collection, the graphics are quite acceptable and the authentic sounds and speech will no doubt take you back to your childhood. The game uses the Havock engine to produce accurate force and physics, we’d say it’s probably little underused in this title but it is a nice feeling to know that the in-game physics are as realistic as they can be. Earning every prize and unlocking the secret games will actually take you a while, it might be a party game but that doesn’t mean you won’t need some practice and skill to complete the hardest minigames with a perfect score.
The bad: Even though Carnival games Wii has a good sense of atmosphere, there really does seem to be something lacking. However it isn’t just one small forgivable thing that is the problem. There are a number of flaws that when put together really turn what should’ve been a good game into an average one. The lack of Mii support is frustrating; the unresponsive and sometimes inaccurate motion controls can often feel like they’re hampering your success. The constant and loud disc accessing on the normally quiet Wii disc drive is very puzzling too, we can only think that the game data must be scattered around the disc file system in an unusually random matter. Our main gripe is that there just is no pizzazz or X Factor to the game, it’s not very technical we know but without that certain spark the game falls short.
Carnival Games sadly let us down slightly, the potential for a fun yet mature party game for all is here but is lost underneath a heavy layer of lacklustreness. We give Carnival Games for Wii an average 5 out of 10.
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