Carnivals and funfairs are always filled with a range of games aimed at sapping your money and your dignity as you spend £10 trying to throw darts at what seems to be that easy to hit twenty pound note, or attempting to hook a frog with a fishing rod. You’ve now got the chance to experience all this over again within the confines of your own warm house courtesy of your PalyStation Move and Carnival Island!
Utilising the Playstation Move you get to play a series of carnival games which involve tossing, throwing, spinning, rolling and slamming. Carnivals are usually fun-filled, full of colour and better when visited in a group. Carnival Island attempts to replicate this on your PS3 by having over 35 carnival attractions to get to grips with, presenting them all in a very bright and bold way, with participation for up to 4 players.
There is a good variety of games to play with that are grouped under particular stalls found around Carnival Island. The Mini Bowl stall contains Mini Bowl, Snake in the Grass, Jackpot Lane, Knock ‘Em Out and Rollin’ Racers. These games require you to manipulate a ball in the right way in order to achieve the desired goal. For example, to play Jackpot Lane successfully you need to roll the balls into certain colour co-ordinated holes to get as many points as possible. To do well in Snake in the Grass you have to try to uncover the snakes to score the most points by rolling balls into the holes that represent the hidden tiles on screen. The Ringers stall has a range of ring throwing relating games that includes the appropriately named Ringers, Rockets and Narwhal Rigs. There are also stalls that revolve around shooting and throwing. The variety of games that are playable is large enough to keep you interested short term whilst the Playstation Move works really well in replicating your movements.
The story behind Carnival Island (which is a reasonable attempt to make the game more than a series of mini-games) begins with two children stumbling upon a pair of tickets that reveal a hidden and magical carnival. You, as one of children, attempt to bring the colour and fun back to the carnival. This story is brought to you via a somewhat interesting and playful animation. The basic premise is that you play one of the carnival games, try to unlock the challenges (Score 300 points, Get the Jackpot etc) which then in turn open up new games to play. When you complete a carnival game successfully you get awarded with a new pet that comes out and joins your motley crew in cheering you on. Your score is also turned into tickets which in turn can be used to purchase collectibles. Opening up all the games on a particular stall brings that stall back to its former colourful and wonderful glory.
The Playstation Move is the ideal tool for this kind of fun because the movements required are quite simple to repeat i.e. a throwing or bowling motion is a basic action that is really easy to replicate. The only issue is that the games are very simple. It’s not like they become any more difficult the better you score. After an hour or two it can become a very repetitive process. The loading times between the games and moving between stalls is also far from acceptable. Considering the simple nature of the games on offer, it’s very hard to understand why the loading times are so long, for younger players or group situations this will become frustrating quite quickly for the participants.
The animated cut-scenes suit the bubbly melodies that inhabit Carnival Island whilst the general ambiance of the whole experience gives you a pleasant feeling initially. The little animals you collect are quite cute looking and their support for you is sort of endearing. Unfortunately, as you start each game you’re presented with the ‘How to play’ instructions every time. At first it’s not an issue, but for every game, every time it becomes annoying.
The main problem with a casual game like Carnival Island is that the appeal is limited to being short term and is most enjoyed when played in a group. Having said that, Carnival Island is fun and entertaining on a short term level. There is no way you’ll play this on your own for more than an hour or two, but within a group Carnival Island can become quite competitive. Carnival Island is obviously aimed at a younger age group and to some degree succeeds in being an adequate compilation of mini-games that wouldn’t embarrass you in a party situation. If Carnival Island was a funfair ride then it could be comparable to the waltzers. Quite fun for a limited period of time, better than the teacups but not as good as the big rollercoaster everyone tells you to go on.
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