When the Wii was released a deluge of minigame collections came out, some good and most pretty bad. Then the Playstation Move was released, and the flood turned into a trickle, it seems the Move isn’t quite on most gamers radars – which is unfortunate as it’s a solid piece of technology that was overshadowed by an entirely different motion based gaming on another competitor’s console. That being said, I had the chance to kick back with my family and play some Carnival Island recently, and was pleasantly surprised at the collection of carnival themed titles.
In a strange thing for a minigame collection to do, Carnival Island contains a story complete with anime cut scenes and an end goal – that being to play enough games to unlock hidden magical pets who will cheer for you, ultimately ending in creating so much magic that the old carnival is once again back to its old self, and again a destination. But really – no one is going to be playing this to see the cut scenes, or hear the story – it’s all about the games.
Each section of the carnival is it’s own hub to one of two game styles and a couple of places to spend your hard earned tickets. The games are things you’d find at your local travelling carnival, with Skee-Ball, ring toss, bottles to knock down and the classic frog launcher. Each of these basic types of games have variations within it. For example at the pitching tent the games range from knocking down te bottles to the horse races where you roll a ball down an alley. The best thing that I can say is that they captured the feeling of playing the games quite well, even as far as some items have a true feeling of weight behind it. So flinging a ring sidearm is going to feel pretty different than tossing that welded horseshoe on the peg.
Unlocking each variation of the games requires meeting certain challenges within a game. These challenges can range from a target score, to sinking three baskets in a row. Playing through the games also earns you tickets, which you can spend on balloons at a balloon cart, or on other trinkets at a ticket counter. Nothing substantial can be bought, but it’s more incentive to keep playing – if the pet collection wasn’t already enough.
Sure it’s sort of fun to cruise through the carnival in single player mode, but it’s the party mode that’s going to have you spending more time. Featuring either a pass the controller or if you happen to own more than one Move setup, head to head play is an option for a series of the game types. The fun here comes from competition at games that we’ve all played for our whole lives, and trying to outdo one another even if it takes a little bump out of the camera eye to make it happen.
The Move controller works great as expected – never once did I find myself not hitting a target I was aiming at because of faulty hardware or poorly calibrated controllers, mistakes were always user error. If you’re looking for something to play with a group of friends or family, then this title is a fairly safe bet. Nothing offensive to make Granny upset, and simple enough that even the youngest gamers can compete with the big kids.
7.0 / 10
Unlike a lot of hastily thrown together minigame collections, Carnival Island seems well thought out – it even has a story mode. The 35+ game modes will surely have at least one that will appeal to almost any gamer, and the cute collectable pets will keep the collectors happy.