"Carnival Games" from Global Star software for the Nintendo Wii is the best game ever made about, umm, Carnival Games. This is certainly a game that would have been a minor failure on any other platform, but on the Wii is an entertaining success. You enter the carnival where you can decide to play a single player game (collect tickets, trade-up prizes, unlock contests) or a multi-player game (use 1 or more Wii-Motes to play any of your currently unlocked games). The multi-player mode will probably attract many people first, as it seems that this is where mini-game collection like this should really shine. In some places, it really does. There are about 25 games, and most of them are very accurate recreations of their real-life carnival counterparts. There are about 8 games that can be played in multi-player mode (2 or more people at once), but the rest make you take turns. This is fun for a while, but it also shows just how shallow some of the games can be. You don't collect tickets or prizes in multi-player mode, and this makes success seem a bit hallow. Single player is much better way to play, even with a group. Taking turns to earn enough tickets to open new games, unlock character modifications, and trade-up prizes is surprisingly fun. This little bit of challenge adds weight to contests that seeme somewhat trivial in multi-player mode.
Note: Don't skip the instructions the first time out, as they have little animations that show exactly how to use the Wii-Mote. Without these instructions some of the games can seem harder than they really are.
Here are list of the initial games and how they fare next to the real thing:
1. Alley Ball: Very very accurate simulation of skee-ball. A bit easy to master though, but like Wii Sports bowling, even the "perfect" shots are not always perfect.
2.Test Your Strength: You can't really simulate hitting something hard with a Wii-mote, but this still well done.
3. Hoops: Basketball shoot. Hard to tell where you are shooting in this one. Still maddenly addictive, but only because you want to figure how the @#$! controls work.
4. Collection Plate: A coin toss. Use the Wii-Mote aim, then flip to throw. Aiming is hard, but he flipping part seems pretty accurate.
5. Spilled Milk: Knock-down 3 milk bottles. Insanely accurate to the actual game.
6. Balloon Darts: hold the Wii-Mote like a dart, try to pop balloons. Fun, but you wish you had more darts to pop more balloons, especially in multi-player mode.
7. Bowler Coaster: Roll a bowling ball and try make it stop in the middle. Too hard to learn, but then too easy to master.
8. Shooting Gallery: Shoot the ducks, don't hit the red ones. Perfectly accurate and fun.
9. Pigskin Pass: (football throw). Very hard until you watch the instructions and see that you hold the Wii-Mote the same way you do in darts...then it is just challenging.
10. Shoot for the stars: Shoot your machine gun, try to knock out 100% of star. Very very hard, but still enjoyable.
11. Frog Leap: See Collection Plate.
12. Buckets Of Fun: Throw a softball into a bucket. Very accurate, but also easy to master.
13. Clown Splash: Shoot water in clown's mouth to pop balloon. Adds a "water pressure" action that is not in any real-life version I've played. Fun game.
14. Hole In One: Golf putt. Kind of annoying actually, but then I did not look at the instructions.
15. Ring Toss: See Frog Leap
16: Ka-Pow: Knock down fuzzy clown heads. Just like the real game.
17. Nerves of steel. Thread a metal ring. Not exactly fun, but it is challenging.
18. Lucky Cups: Throw balls onto a field of cups, try to get it into a colored one. Just like the real game!
19. Day At The Races: Move your horse forward by rolling balls into holes. Just like the actual game. This is one of the better multi-player games.
20. Dunk Tank: Dunk tank. If you like this sort of thing it's awesome.
There are also 5 games that require 15-25 tickets to play. You get tickets in the single player games. These are:
1. Push A Prize: keep adding coins until a prize gets pushed out of the machine
2. Claw: Capture prize with the claw
3. Going Nuts: Catch nuts in the basket
4. Love Tester: Love tester, like in Moe's Tavern
5. Fortune Teller
There was one problem with these games. My daughter won a "prize" in the "claw" game, but we it was not available anywhere after she got it. This seems to be a minor oversight. If you have to pay to play these games, it would be nice to go back and see your prizes, love test results, and fortunes later-on.
There are also 10 "super games", that you unlock. These are harder or simply more interesting versions of the regular games. For instance, "Super Alley Ball" has blockades much like the practice versions of "Wii Sports Bowling". "Super Balloon Darts" let's you throw as many darts as you want in 30 seconds. These are definitely worth speeding the time to unlock.
While the game has a good variety on contests, there are few games that they missed that would have added to the already robust set of contests: What they did not include but should have:
1. Fish: Throw ping-pong balls to win fish, trade-up for bigger and better fish.
2. Whack-Mole type game.
3. Hoola-hoop toss
4. Three Card Monty
5. Other Skee-Ball variants (like clown-head skee ball)
All in all, Carnival Games is quite good title for the Wii. It uses the Wii-Mote in a natural way, and has enough variety to keep almost anyone interested, at least for a short time. My kids really dig it. After playing for a short time the first day, one of them said to me "Wow, can we play this all night?" That has not happened since we first played "Wii Sports".
Score: 7.5 out of 10.