Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do arrives on Kinect for Xbox 360 at a time when fitness and dancing games dominate retail shelves for early adopters of the full-body motion controller peripheral. 2K Play could have directly ported the 2007 Wii hit Carnival Games or its sequel, last fall’s New Carnival Games, and it would have been a welcome detour from Kinect’s limited options. Instead of rushing Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do into stores in time for Kinect’s launch, developer Cat Daddy Games wisely took a step back and built the first Xbox 360 entry in the Carnival Games series for Kinect from the ground up with Kinect controls in mind.
The payoff is nearly all the 20 mini-games in Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do, 10 of which are all-new to the franchise with more confirmed to be coming via DLC, have enough of a hook that players will want to try again after a first attempt rather than jump immediately back to one of the 5 alleys (Coaster Corner, Carousel Junction, Tea Cup Court, Whirligig Way and LaunchPad Lane) and look for something else. Some mini-games naturally will have more traction and allure than others based on personal preference and the lack of difficult settings. There’s a strong chance that each member of a family with kids will find a favorite to match his/her skills and talents, and latch onto it.
As in a real life carnival there are games of skill and games of chance, most turn-based and some single-layer only or simultaneous. Alley-Ball, whose motion-controls play similar to Wii bowling, take a fair bit of skill to come away with a respectable score much like the real thing. Other games of skill worth immediately seeking out are Granny Shot that has you throwing balls of different weights into a basket; Hitting Streak that plays like a batting cage on adrenaline with all sorts of whacky pitches to try to make contact with; Ring Fling where you toss rings onto bottle tops – easier said than done; and Gold Rush Mountain where you use your arms to touch coins and avoid hitting red stars while aggressively speeding down a winding track.
A game like Wheel of Chance lives up to its name unless you can perfectly control your wheel spin motion each and every time. Tickets won on other games, which can be spent in one of four prize booths on in-game and Xbox 360 Avatar items, are easily increased or lost within seconds. The Amazing Wodin, a fortune teller that successfully utilizes voice recognition to tell a joke, also requires no skill to play and can easily be enjoyed by all.
Then there’s Court King, the Carnival Games version of pop-a-shot that should require skill but doesn’t seem to award consistent baskets even if you repeat the exact same scoring shooting motion two times in a row. I expected this to be a favorite and it turned out to be one of the biggest letdowns.
Cat Daddy Games didn’t design Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do to drive into an immediate sweat like Kinect Sports, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some mini-games that will get the blood pumping and, in one instance, make you laugh with glee. Funnel Cake Falls is a balance game in which you hold your arms out and catch cakes on a plate as they fall in different places and at different speeds. You’ll need quick lateral movement and an eye for stacking straight to last the time limit with an impressive stack and not a lump. Strength Test and Knockout Punch offer a chance to swing a hammer and time boxing blows, respectively, but are fairly shallow and easy to quickly master. Good luck keeping up in the game’s namesake, Monkey See Monkey Do. The monkey may look a little creepy, but he’s got mad quick moves that will challenge anyone to keep up with.
The mini-game with no equal is Pig Race, the first and to my knowledge only Kinect game that has you slapping your behind as a motion control. There’s steering involved, too, but the act of repetitive fast butt slapping is something that will certainly draw a crowd and loud cheers at a party. It’s more than a gratifying experience to butt slap your way to a first place finish and gloat while massaging your sore behind.
The benefit of using Kinect for Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do versus a hand-held motion controller is the design and controls cater to you. Left and right handed throwers are detected by the mini-games, and height is never an issue whether an adult or child is playing. Most importantly, the Kinect detection is fantastic from game to game and there’s no cause for mis-detection concern to be found anywhere. It never hurts when a Kinect game takes pictures while you play, either, which Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do successfully does. Unfortunately there’s no option to upload and share those photos.
People visit a carnival to have some fun and Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do delivers just that in a bundle of small packages. Older players less invested in collecting tickets and buying goodies may grow tired of the limited games with a few hours. Kids, though, will be hard to pull away from it. The best way to have fun with Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do is with young and old alike, slapping pigs until a winner is crowned.
– Dan Bradley
Shop for Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do on Xbox 360 Kinect for a discounted price at Amazon.com.