Games like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, BioShock and Halo 3 are the obvious choices to dominate press headlines this time of year, and rightfully so. Yet they aren’t the only games with a chance to claim blockbuster status. Take-Two Interactive has quietly unleashed Carnival Games for the Wii, and in doing so, hopes to cash in on a combination of the multiplayer craze Mario Party began many years ago, as well as the novelty of Wii’s motion-sensitive and IR Remote applied to a host of addictive mini-games.
Developer Global Star Software opted to take a simple gameplay mechanics approach in Carnival Games by tossing aside the Nunchuk secondary controller and focusing all movements on the Wii Remote. All of the carnival games require players to use the Remote to execute a balanced combination of overhand toss, underhand toss, Frisbee fling, violent shake, thrust ahead, or point-and-shoot actions. Repeatedly shaking the Remote, such as in Test Your Strength and Clown Splash, are a quick one-way-ticket to a sore arm and early exit. The other movements are simple enough to not pose an endurance hazard.
Any party game is going to have hits and misses, and Carnival Games is no exception. Games like Hoops, Day At The Races, and a healthy dose of luck-required chance games Ring Toss and Collection Plate offer enough Havoc physics variety to pose a challenge for novice and advanced gamers alike. Simpler games requiring knocking objects over like Ka-Pow and Spilled Milk are easy to master and easier to forget.
Over 250 virtual prizes are quickly racked up playing the single-player mode. These prizes are awarded in a pre-determined manner instead of allowing a winner to select a prize from the attendant, sucking any excitement out of scoring high in a game. Prizes can also be bought by exchanging tickets, but only fairly young kids might find intrigue in collecting various doodads for their efforts.
Adults will discover one reason to pay attention to whether they win a small, medium or large prize as they can trade in two large prizes for a super prize. In some instances, collection the super prize will unlock a Super Mode of a game. For example, winning the super prize in Alley Ball will unlock Super Alley Ball, a significantly harder variation that liters obstacles on the alley requiring bank shots to avoid. A fantastic upgrade comes from Super Hole In One, offering six delightfully complicated putt-putt holes in lieu of the single hole found in the non-Super version of Hole In One.
Party games like Carnival Games are designed to be enjoyed in a multiplayer party setting. Playing alone loses its luster within an hour, leaving little incentive to press forward other than top previous high scores. Bragging rights are on the line with up to three additional friends, and in this competitive environment is where Carnival Games shines. The only glaring omission from Global Star is online play which could have greatly extended play for gamers who don’t often have access to in-person competitors.
Carnival Games embodies everything Nintendo continually stresses the Wii is about: simple, pick-up-and-play mechanics entire families can enjoy. In many respects, it’s more a sequel to Wii Sports than Wii Play is thanks to a dizzying 25 plus playable games with a little something on the midway for everyone. Based on how quickly it’s flying off store shelves, Carnival Games is well on the way to becoming an early sleeper hit for this upcoming holiday season.
– Dan Bradley