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Wonder World Amusement Park

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, Wii
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Coyote Console


NDS Review - 'Wonder World Amusement Park'

by Dustin Chadwell on Feb. 16, 2009 @ 6:52 a.m. PST

All of the fun and thrills of your favorite amusement parks and carnivals are now available in your living room! In Wonder World Amusement Park, you can take your customized character for a walk around a fully 3D park with five themed zones. Play through a huge variety of mini-games as you win outfits and prizes for your unique character. Step right up and test your skills in a fun filled experience for the whole family!

Genre: Mini-Games
Publisher: Majesco Games
Developer: Coyote Console
Release Date: January 23, 2009

Wonderworld: Amusement Park is the newest mini-game collection on the DS, hot on the heels of success stories like Carnival Games, with a theme park skin that holds a pretty large variety of various mini-game activities. It's still hard to feel like this is more than a cheap cash-in, especially when the majority of the games end up using the same, or at least remarkably similar, control schemes.

When you start up your first game, you'll be greeted with a character selection screen. Each character represents a kid, and there are total of six to choose from; there's no real difference between each character, aside from the outward appearance. As you play, you'll also unlock items with which to outfit your avatar, so while the stock image is a little bland, you get to spruce it up a bit.

A short cut scene kicks in that shows grandpa introducing your young character to Wonderworld. The game isn't particularly story-heavy, so I'm surprised to see them bothering with this introductory scene in the first place, since there isn't a story that occurs between events or any character interaction within the park.

Once this is done, it's time to play some mini-games. On the bottom screen, you have a map of the fairgrounds, with six different locations to choose from. However, the majority of this stuff is locked on your first play, so you'll only be able to enter the center location, which is called Carnival Zone. You'll notice at the top of your screen that there's a ticker with the word "Tickets" over it. Tickets are the in-game currency used to unlock various venues, and the different mini-games held within. In case you haven't noticed, this title is full of unlocking. Even within the starting Carnival Zone, only three of the five mini-games are unlocked. Of course, this isn't too big of a deal, since there's no quick play mode and only one multiplayer option available.

Once you select your zone, you choose the game you want to play. Each game has three levels, which seem to represent prize payouts; once you complete a level, you gain the corresponding prize. There's a meter to represent the levels, and the more you play a particular game, the more you'll fill that meter. Finishing off the third level for each game will take a fair amount of time, and it does start to get really repetitive, especially when certain games seem to repeat far too often.

In the first area alone, you're given three games to choose from: Balloon Darts, Basketball and Roller Ball. The names are probably self-explanatory to anyone who's been to a state fair, but for the uninitiated, I'll give you a short description. Balloon Darts offers up a limited amount of darts to a player, and you'll have a small three-by-three grid of balloons to pop. Certain balloons offer up a certain amount of points, and you're concerned with racking up the highest score. Like everything in the game, controls are handled with the stylus, and you move your stylus forward in a swiping motion to toss the dart. Depending on how far you swipe, your dart will land high or low on the board. You can also opt to swipe off to the left or right to aim in that direction.

The second available game, Basketball, simply gives you three balls to toss into a basket, but the control scheme is almost identical to what you had in Balloon Darts. Swipe the stylus forward to make it in the goal, but once again, you need to be careful of how you aim the movement and how much oomph you put into it.

The third game that's available when you begin is Rollerball, which people also know as skee ball. Once again, you have a ball in the center of the screen, and you push out with the stylus to send it down the path toward the various circles to score some points. The controls are identical to Basketball and Balloon Darts, which proves that the majority of games you play in Wonderworld: Amusement Park is pretty much the exact same game over and over again, only with a different skin.

Not every single game uses the same control scheme, but far more than I'd like to play. While the title appears to have a pretty sizable amount of mini-games (around 30), the fact is they're all too similar to really be considered different. Even the games that have a different control scheme, like Whack-a-Mole, get repeated in two different zones, and the shooting gallery-style games also see a couple of repeats. In the end, you're only really playing a few different games with a bunch of different skins applied, and the result is pretty boring. It becomes a real chore since you have to grind for tickets to unlock the other games, and it's frustrating when you realize that the games you're unlocking are pretty much the same ones you've already played.

The multiplayer component is equally disappointing, only allowing local play with two players who have the cart, and you can only select from one of the four mini-games. You can apparently only select one at a time too, and the only real competition is in the score, so you'd almost be better off playing your own game while the other player does his, and then comparing your scores at the end. At least you'd be to play whichever mini-game you like then, assuming you've unlocked it.

Visually, I like the way most of the mini-games look, even if they are repetitious. The various themes for each zone are well-represented in each game, and the design is very appealing overall. A lot of the games are instantly recognizable as fairground classics, and anyone who's been to a fair before will most likely recognize the majority of the mini-games. However, the occasional cut scene looks ugly in comparison, and the human modeling feels out of place with the rest of the game design.

The music is largely forgettable, and while there is a definite fairground approach to what you hear; it's nothing that will stick with you. Sound effects are pretty constant in the mini-games but not to the point that you'll get annoyed and turn off the sound.

Altogether, Wonderworld: Amusement Park could have been a pretty solid collection of mini-games if a little more thought had been put into the stylus control scheme. As it is, all of the games play in a fashion that's too close to each other, and by the time you begin to gather enough to tickets to unlock things, you'll most likely be bored with the game. I'd suggest at least giving it a rental before picking it up, since I'm not sure the title would appeal to many people.

Score: 5.0/10

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