Back in the days of the Wii a lot of series got their start, finding success with their new takes on things, Carnival Games was one such example, but now that we have moved past the Wii, does this series still justify the cost of admission.
Being honest, no, it does not, there is very little about this game that is good and while there is nothing broken about it, it is not something I would suggest playing if you can avoid it. Carnival Games was great on the Wii, even when the controls did not work so well, so seeing it with busted controls and bland games, made it hard to play and enjoy. The game starts out with you selecting a mode to play, before the games are presented to you, the problem is only a handful of games are available to play, the remaining games require you to unlock them, by exchanging tickets you win for them. That is an ok progression path, giving players a reason to keep revisiting their favourite games, but the level of investment is far higher than you might think, with some games needing over 500 tickets to unlock them.
Now earning tickets is done by completing the games, with the better score you get, the more tickets you earn, just like in a gaming arcade, but like in an arcade, the ticket distribution is uneven, in one game I earnt 7 tickets, replaying the game and getting almost double the score, resulted in 9. The game in question was baseball and simple require you to hit the ball, getting the time down pat was easy enough, but depending on where the ball landed, the score would be different, which was the reason for the difference in the scores. The easier games to unlock cost 50 tickets, or 75 if you want Ten Pin Bowling, but pretty soon they ramp up, which means if you are earning 10 tickets a game, then you are going to be at it for a long time, so while the idea is sound the execution is not.
Playing the games is also something of a problem, because, playing on Switch motion controls are locked away, until you have played the games a few times and earnt a good score on it. You need to repeat this process on each and every game in the collection, meaning what you think the controls should be, matters not, until you have unlocked the motion option. Now not everyone is going to enjoy motion controls, so the option to use sticks and buttons is a welcome one, but the problem is that they are flawed beyond comprehension. A game of ring toss, has you directing your throw with the stick, which makes sense and then pressing and holding a button to determine toss strength, the issue is that it is one of the few where the button controls make sense, the rest, usually don’t.
Ten Pin Bowling is one of those sports that most people can understand with almost no instruction, even the smaller versions like skee ball, which use the same motions, but here, you have no control over that, even with motion. For the game’s version of Ten Pin, which they call Speed Ten Pin, an arrow sweeps across the lane, you then press a button to begin your shot, then using the stick, you control the spin on the ball, sound easy enough. The issue comes from the fact that the arrow is nothing you can control, it is fast, and you only get a few seconds to press the button to begin, before the game takes over for you. Once the ball is in motion, the spin you can apply, only impacts the ball at the beginning, by the time it has moved halfway down the lane, it matters not what you do. Playing through a dozen or so rounds, when I unlocked motion controls, I thought the game would be better, sadly I was wrong, it got worse. The arrow is still there, moving on its own, but now instead of pressing the A button to begin, you flick your wrist, then with the ball in motion, you have to twist the Joy-Con in order to control its general direction, but that same issue is present that it only matters for the first few moments.
That is just one example of how bad the motion controls, when you consider that a launch game, the launch game for the Wii managed to get motion control ten pin done, there is no reason that a game made 12 years later can’t even get close. But controls and bizarre levelling are not the only problems with the game, the visuals are akin to HD PlayStation 2 era graphics, most of the characters look like they are hyper-realised Claymation, thanks to their plastic looking faces, but they are also locked into place. If you wanted to create a version of you, then you are out of luck, you get a half dozen options or so and that is in, you can change what the character wears, using tickets to unlock items, but that is in, faces are not changeable at all.
The announcer of the game is loud and has a voiced pulled from the 1930’s, much like people you would find spruiking on an America boardwalk of that time, it suits the game quite well. The issue with him, is that the lines he says are dad joke level at best, cringe worthy at worst and from the first game, they never improve. The playable characters rarely make any noise, it's just the announcer for most of the time, about the only thing you will hear all the time is the music, the bland and repetitive music.
Carnival Games for Switch is a game that I honestly can’t recommend to anyone, the controls are awkward to begin with and horrible with motion, the games are bland, and most are not fun to play. The games levelling system is kind of cool but given the crazy high number of tickets you need to earn, in order to unlock the games, which are not great, make it pointless to try. If you are desperate for some Carnival Games action, locate your nearest show and use the real ones.
Review copy provided by 2K