Carnival Games Hands-On

We hit Global Star's Wii-powered carnival game collection and score tickets and stuffed animals.


Global Star was on hand at Nintendo's recent press event to show off its upcoming Wii game, Carnival Games. The themed minigame collection drops you into a virtual carnival and lets you have a go at a bunch of atypical games. We had the chance to try out a work-in-progress version of the game to see how the Wii handles the carnival merriment.

The demo on display at the event offered a sampling of the single-player and multiplayer experiences. The framework of the game is a collection of different avenues within a carnival to explore. Each themed arena will initially offer a handful of games to try and several more to unlock. You'll start out with 20 games to play, with 15 more to open up, for a grand total of 35.

The games will run the gamut, from alley ball and strength tests, to shooting galleries, ball throwing, and dunk tanks. As with real-life carnival games, you'll earn prizes and tickets you can redeem for assorted goodies. The game's reward system is pretty robust and will cough up goodies such as new costumes and accessories you can equip on your character. At the same time, like at a real-life carnival, you'll also score small, medium, and large prizes that include all manner of stuffed animals.

Control in the games we tried takes a cue from Nintendo's crop of breezy, fun titles: Wii Sports and Wii Play. Many of the games we tried kept the action simple with variants on the standard array of motions, and some equally user-friendly variations have been added to the mix of familiar motions. For example, the Test Your Strength game requires you to shake the Wii remote to build up a power meter and then wave downward to bring your virtual hammer down with enough strength to send a widget up and ring a bell. We also tried our hand at a more-complicated use of the remote that required us to guide a metal ring across a curvy electrified pole. The minigame read our motion in 3D, which forced us to keep a steady hand. Global Star reps noted that the game will make use of 18 unique motions of the Wii remote.

The visuals are on the youthful side and offer modestly detailed graphics for the environments and objects as well as Mii-inspired characters. As a result, you shouldn't come in expecting cutting-edge visuals. The levels draw inspiration from real-life carnival booths and locales. The character models, which can be customized with the unlockables we mentioned, seem to answer the question of what would happen if Rayman and a Mii hooked up. The cartoony character models have detailed faces and bodies, but oddly enough, they lack arms. Though it's a bit odd, the quirky look works with the game's whimsical touch.

The audio is pretty basic so far. You'll hear some bouncy tunes, carnival ambience, and assorted effects for your actions. The sound effects and music fit the game well, though they could stand to be a bit beefier in spots to give the game some punch.

Based on what we played, Carnival Games is looking like a solid minigame collection in the Wii Play/Wii Sports vein with a bit more in the way of a breadcrumb trail to keep you coming back for more. The games we tried were pretty fun, though the control on some could stand to be tightened up, and there was a respectable amount of variety on display. The game's look and theme may skew a bit young, but, as in real life, the carnival games have an ageless appeal. If the controls can be tightened up, Carnival Games looks as though it will be a solid little game worth slotting into the Wii party-game rotation. The game is slated to ship later this year exclusively for the Wii.

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