Global Star Software's Carnival Games is perhaps one of the most hotly anticipated games launched on the system since it's release last November. In the search for the game that will be the Wii's 'killer app,' many have added Carnival Games to the list of potential superstars.
This fully immersive carnival ride begins with a choice. Do you want to play by yourself, or with friends? A valuable decision, this, as it governs the experience you are bound to undertake for the rest of the game. In single-player mode, your fully customizable (!) character plays games that are broken down by skill set, in an attempt to earn tickets that will allow you to either buy trinkets or unlock more games.
What sort of games, you might ask? Glad you did, boss. There's everything from the traditionally impossible (Shoot Out The Star) to the traditionally easy-peasy (Shoot The Clown's Mouth). Looking for a faithful Skee-Ball simulator? Look no further. And each of the games here require Wiimote interaction that's both easy to learn and difficult to master, along with other NPC barker-types who yell at you along the way, taunting you until you get it right.
We found most of the games to be quite fun, indeed. The Skee-Ball (called Alley Ball here) was very fun, as was the Dunking Booth, and the Day At The Races, which requires you to roll balls into different-colored holes to move a wooden horse to a finish line. Also fun was the Frog Leap, in which you pound a lever with a rubber frog on it, in an effort to land those frogs in plastic lilly pads.
Without question, the best thing about this game is the music. Sometimes, it's calliope standards, like you'd expect to find on a carnival midway, but others it's sort of wonky synth music that absolutely reaches the sublime. On more than one occasion, it was eerily like playing carnival games while listening to Laurie Anderson in the background, which is perhaps the single greatest experience in the history of gaming.
Multiplayer is a different experience entirely, with two modes involved. In one, you choose a game and play head to head with as many as three other people at once. In the other, the game selects a random grouping of five games for you to compete at, kind of like a random carnival pentathalon. Loads of fun.
In all, yes, Carnival Games is another series of mini-games for the Wii, but one that provides a lot of cool stuff to do, and will allow you and your friends to spend a lot of time enjoying. It's the next best thing to being at a carnival, which, as Fall approaches, should fill the void between summers.