Publisher: Global Star Software
Developer: Cat Daddy Games
Release Date: August 27, 2007
With the likes of Grand Theft Auto IV and BioShock in Take-Two's second-half lineup, it would be easy for a Wii-exclusive title like Carnival Games to get lost in the spectacle that is E3 (even in its weakened state). In fact, we weren't totally sure that we were going to see it, but after our brief look at Civilization Revolution, we were whisked into a curtained-off section of a nearby room at get a quick hands-on look at the late-August release.
While unlikely to impress with originality (either in concept or execution), Carnival Games hobbles together more than 25 familiar mini-games inspired by those seen at actual carnivals and theme parks. Tickets earned from the mini-games can be used to play several other sideshow games, and more than 250 digital prizes will be available to be won or purchased. Many of these items take the form of apparel, such as hats or shirts that can be worn by your customizable, in-game character (no Miis here, sadly).
Up to four players can compete in the majority of the games, with many utilizing split-screen setups. Others have the players switching off, one at a time, which allows all four to play with a single Wiimote. In the multiplayer menu, players can choose the Head-to-Head option to play any single game, while the Competition option randomly selects five games from the rotation (not including the Super versions) and tracks points earned across the games before determining the eventual winner.
As with any such collection, the real star is the mini-games themselves. We got to check out a handful of the 25+ promised games, so here's a quick look at what to expect from Carnival Games.
- Alley Ball – In this skee-ball knockoff, players must roll wooden balls down a ramp toward a series of holes, earning various point totals depending on the destination. Rolling the ball is as simple as lining up your shot with the d-pad, then pulling back and making the throwing motion — no button press/release necessary. In the Super version, miniature bumpers are placed on the ramp, giving the game a "trick shot bowling" feel.
- Clown Splash – This familiar game uses the Wiimote as a water pistol, tasking players with shooting the stream into the clown's mouth to inflate a balloon. It's not quite that simple, though. To build up the water pressure necessary to fire the pistol, players must shake the Wiimote for several seconds. Aim, shoot, shake; repeat. One of the better games we played.
- Hole-in-One – A variation on the miniature golf theme in which you have a single shot to sink the ball in the hole. You'll actually have to hold the B button for this one, but the process is similar to that of other golf games on the Wii — stand with your side to the screen, pull away, and move the Wiimote forward like you're actually putting.
- Shooting Gallery – As ducks scroll in from the left and right, you'll get points for shooting the bull's-eyes painted on their bodies, while the red ducks subtract from your total. Ammunition is limited to 25 bullets, so aim wisely!
- Shoot for the Stars is another weapon-based mini-game, though you'll be using a rapid-fire rifle to shoot enough holes in a sheet of paper to eliminate a black star. Scoring is based on the percentage eliminated.
- The Great Swami – With a simple premise and execution, this is the equivalent of a digital Magic 8 Ball. Like in the movie "Big," an automated fortuneteller will answer any yes or no question. How? By putting the Wiimote against your forehead when you ask the question. The response is random, but this sideshow game is only meant to be a fun bonus. It seems unlikely that other sideshow games will exceed this level of depth, but we're not too worried.
Along with other self-descriptive games like Hoops and Dunk Tank, Carnival Games looks to bring the simple thrills of the state fair into your living room without the exorbitant ticket prices. Well, that's not entirely true. Its one-time entry fee of $39.99 may not be terribly convincing, considering the well-worn content, but with Mario Party 8 making such an unimpressive debut on the Wii, Carnival Games may still find a willing audience before the fall rush.
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