Score: 6.5/10 | PARTY | ARCADE | FAMILY
“Carnival Games works well as a party game but isn’t something I enjoyed playing just for the grind for tickets.”
No matter what age you are, there’s a certain joy and excitement when it comes to playing games at a Carnival. As soon as I booted up Carnival Games, I felt like I was being transported to another world once I heard the fun circus music. Mass Media, Cat Daddy Games and 2K simulated this experience in the comfort of my own home. But as much as I got sucked into it’s colourful world, it wouldn’t take much effort to pull me away.
The games premise is pretty simple, play any of the 20 carnival games on offer either solo against AI or with family/friends and win tickets. After dressing up my avatar in clothes from the Player Store, I was ready to shoot some hoops and play skee ball. However I quickly learnt that less than half of the games were playable, while the others required me to trade my ticket winnings to unlock them. Playing through the initial 8 playable games at least once won me enough tickets to unlock a couple more. At this point I had already picked which games were favourites and which I wanted to steer away from. This came down to factors like how the controls handled and more importantly, how many tickets I was able to win to unlock more games.
Playing a game like “Batter Up” gave me 20+ tickets per game which became an instant winner for me, where as a winning match of “Roll-R-Derby” rewarded me less than 10. It was a noticeable inconsistency in ticket winnings which had me playing the same few games repeatedly to grind for more tickets. If anything the repetitiveness became more tedious than fun, as I was slowly left with the more expensive unlockables. Tickets didn’t just unlock additional games. I was also able to buy new outfits for my avatar and unlock additional game music, which also came at a high price. As I gained more variety in games, I still got hit with low rewards in some.
After giving the free-play mode a thorough run through, I tested out Tournament mode. It works the same as free-play with the same game rules and same amount of ticket rewards. It instead keeps track of everyones score over the length of either the Decathalon or Unlimited tournament. This is the mode you want to fire up if you plan on playing this at your next game night.
At first I was pretty satisfied with the controls as they were very basic. The joystick and one button are the absolute most you have to use in most of these games. Although when it came to the shooting gallery, I was left borderline frustrated as aiming the cross-hair didn’t feel as smooth as aiming in a first-person shooter. This frustration lowered once I unlocked the motion controls, improving my aim by a mile. And yes you read correctly, I had to unlock the ability to use motion controls in each game. But thankfully they aren’t exactly a necessity in a lot of the other games as the motion controls acted a bit clunky in some. To me I thought it was a bit pointless in hiding them behind a score achievement when they could have just given you the option by default.
Although Carnival Games has its flaws in regards to mechanics, most of the games can be a joy to play. They’re all teamed with bright 3D level design and cheerful music. And like the controls, game rules are so simple that the youngest of children can join in on the fun. A couple of the games did feel a little out place to the traditional carnival setting though. I was caught off guard once I saw drone racing as a game option. Character models seem a tad last gen in my opinion but I guess they do match the cartoony aesthetic the game is going for.
Carnival Games works well as a party game but isn’t something I enjoyed playing just for the grind for tickets. With the versatility of playing on Nintendo Switch you can take the fun with you and become the life of the next party you attend.
Not only is Carnival Games available on Nintendo Switch but also Playstation 4 and Xbox One right now and I give it a 6.5 out of 10.