|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Majesco||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Seeking to compete with Carnival Games on the Wii for a share of the casual, amusement park-themed mini-game market, Majesco released its own shoddy mini-game collection aimed at Wii-owning families and younger players.
The console version of Wonder World Amusement Park - developed by Coyote - was a complete mess. From frequently broken controls and lack of variety in the gameplay itself to confusing goals and progression issues, the game failed to impress on so many levels. While the newly-released DS version of the same title packs much of the same flavor as its console counterpart, it's ultimately a much more solid game.
Majesco took over the reigns for development of Wonder World Amusement Park on the DS. In doing so, it managed to salvage some of the better elements of the Wii title and implement enough changes to make the DS version actually recommendable - at least to its intended target audience. The game still has some minor control inconsistencies and a generally repetitive nature, but the colorful personality it exudes in each unique area theme and the fact some of the mini-games are actually fun this time around are steps in the right direction. The improvements over the past design are definitely noticeable.
Players start out by picking from six pre-designed characters with personalities and interests that will appeal to younger players. There's a girl named Brenda who likes to write, a boy named Corey who's into games of all kinds, and Adrienne, an inquisitive tinkerer, among others. While there's no option to make your own character from scratch like in the Wii version, you can unlock outfits and accessories to deck them out with as you play through the mini-games. Once you've selected a character, you'll wind up in a conversation with good old grandpa where he rambles on about how fun the local amusement park used to be back in the day. Assuring you there's a good time still to be had, he drags you off to the park. It turns out grandpa is mostly right.
Upon entering Wonder World Amusement Park, you'll have access to the first tier of mini-games. Playing the first few games available will earn you tickets that can be used to unlock other games and areas of the amusement park. The park is divided into six unique zones, and each offers a different theme. Variations on the five themes from the Wii version return - Carnival, Spookyville, Fairytale, Pirate, and Space - alongside a new prehistoric-themed zone. Only one zone is unlocked at the onset of the game; you'll have to earn tickets by doing well in the numerous mini-games found in each area. Unlocking mini-games and new themed zones is the only substantive objective in the game.
Without completely removing all the challenge, Majesco has made the mini-games much more enjoyable and playable for the handheld version. None of the exact same mini-games (at least in terms of the same visuals and matching gameplay) from the Wii are recycled, although some of the basic carnival-style activities do return. At a glance, the overall variety of activities seems quite robust. There's dart throwing, basketball, ring toss, bumper cars, racing, a dunk tank, knife throw, whack-a-something, fishing, golf, dueling robots, and many more. Each game takes only a minute or two to play, and you're rewarded with tickets and unlockable items for your character when you play individual games over and over again. The problem is some of the games are carbon copied and pasted throughout the park. There are quite a few "toss" games that feature very different visuals but play exactly the same. Others follow suit.