Carnival Games

September 17, 2007

Carnival games in general are for suckers. They are as close to impossible as you can get without eliminating the game and having a person stand there just to take your money. Now Global Star Software has come along and brought that same level of frustration to the Wii, with the aptly named Carnival Games.

Carnival Games features over 25 perfect adaptations of everyone’s favorite midway games. Supporting up to 4 players, Carnival Games turns your Wii Remote into everything you can imagine, from a sledgehammer in the famous strength test to a skeeball.

Carnival Games has 2 game modes, single player and competition. Single player mode is where you will win tickets and prizes, while competition mode is the multi-player mode. You can play Head to Head in a single game, or a Competition of up to 4 players in 5 randomly selected games. At the conclusion of multi-player games, a leaderboard shows the winners and losers. Carnival Games doesn’t have any online features, but doesn’t really hurt for it, being designed around local gaming.

To store your progress in single player mode, you will need to create a character. Carnival Games has a pretty minimal character creation mode, but the game doesn’t need anything more. You can customize your face, hair, shirt, pants, and shoes. Later on you can return and add unlocked accessories such as hats, masks, and wacky shoes. Why they left out any type of Mii integration is beyond me.

Venturing into the midway, you are presented with 6 Alleys to select from: Fortune Way, Love Lane, Rodent Row, Claw Alley, Lucky Pass, and Prize Boulevard. As you play the games in each of the Alleys you will receive tickets and prizes, based on your performance. Tickets can be redeemed to play the Alley Arcade games or exchanged for the previously mentioned character accessories.

Prize Boulevard is different from the other Alleys in that it only tracks the collection of prizes you have won to date and doesn’t have any games to play. From here you may swap collections of smaller prizes for larger ones. Win 4 small prizes and you can exchange them for a medium. 3 mediums can be swapped for a large, and once you get 2 large prizes, you can go for the Grand prize. This is the only way to get the Grand prizes of the other Alleys. The name of the prizes is exactly as you would expect from a midway. Small prizes are physically very small, which doesn’t mean much as it’s a virtual prize. The prizes themselves run the full gamut of toys and stuffed animals and are altogether uninteresting. Only the most fervent completionists will care what the prizes are, let alone try to collect them all.

Each of the Alleys features a host of games, as well as a special Alley Arcade Game that requires tickets to play. Each also boasts 2 unlockable Super Games: souped-up versions of the games that are much more difficult than normal. Once you earn grand prizes on 2 of the games in that particular Alley, they’re unlocked for all characters. The Super Games are all over the map in terms of difficulty with some being off the wall crazy and others not being that difficult at all.

Some of my favorite midway games show up in Carnival Games, including the Dunk Tank, Balloon Darts, and even the Shooting Gallery. Conceptually, this real life-to-digital translation should be simple and unfortunately Global Star has hit the nail on the head a little too well. You see, by capturing the pure essence of these games, the developer has managed to package and sell a game that delivers an enjoyable experience, but also a mind blowing amount of frustration. Games like the Strength Test are virtually impossible to get perfect, due to the fact that your arm simply cannot move as fast as is required to get a perfect score. In most cases, the motion sensing controls do a great job of recreating the experience. So good, in fact, that your arms feel like they are going to fall off after you’ve been playing for a while. This is a case where “accurate” doesn’t always translate into “fun.”

Graphically, Carnival Games is pretty adequate. It’s nothing to write home about, but the team did a good job of recreating the games in a realistic way. The vantage point with which you stand also lends itself to a real experience. Carnivals typically have loud obnoxious music that rounds out the experience, but I tended to phase out any type of music or sounds while focusing on the game at hand.

Carnival Games ends up being quite an enjoyable game and won’t hurt the budget too much at $40. But the game, while meant to appeal to everyone, ends up being too difficult for a younger audience and for that reason falls down to the Bargain Bin. I have no doubts that Carnival Games is something that everyone could enjoy on some level, but for $40 you are better off waiting for a price drop or picking up something else. For all its high points, I promise you that at some point you will wonder why exactly you paid to endure some of these games over and over.

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.