|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Dreamcatcher||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Dreamcatcher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 22, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The game's difficulty doesn't jump around too much, but there is one event in particular that will likely prove near impossible for the 6-12-year-old audience the game seems to be aimed at. The controls for Spinning Plates are an inspired idea, but the scoring system is pretty unforgiving. You'll use the analog stick to move your character around, gesture upward with the Wii Remote to toss plates atop sticks, and then spin the remote to get the plates going. It's an interesting challenge but not realistically balanced for the game's target age group.
In addition to the events in Circus School, you'll unlock an additional eight minis (encores) by scoring high in events during Showtime. A Plague of Rabbits is probably my personal favorite because of its simple use of the controllers, which offers players another unremarkable but moderately amusing bit of gameplay.
Ultimately, though, the package is very light on content, and the way in which the multiplayer is set up isn't very inviting. When playing cooperatively, you can work together to score high in events. However, the versus multiplayer will force players to each take turns, dragging these ho-hum events out for a laboriously long time.
Tying these frugal trimmings together is a completely lackluster presentation that gives players only the bare minimum in terms of what the Wii can do. Textures are bland and blurry, and there's plenty of unsightly shimmer as well. The framerate during gameplay is steady, though there usually isn't enough activity onscreen to slow things down. Overall, the game looks cheap, and folks who enjoy the toy franchise aren't getting any extras to keep them coming back. Other than the three main game modes, there are no unlockables or trinkets to fool around with, not even a museum to look at the various franchise-inspired models.
The sound and music are equally uninspired, with borrowed themes from the public domain and effects that don't offer much in the way of feedback during gameplay. Most of the background music works well enough in support of the mini-game events, though that's no great feat in a game based on circus life. As a whole, Playmobil Circus' presentation is competent, yet dull and lifeless.
With the amazing success of LEGO in the video-game world, it's no surprise to see Playmobil make an attempt to capitalize on the medium. The results here, however, are far less ambitious and enjoyable, and Playmobil Circus does nothing, really, to distinguish itself from the glut of other mini-game compilations already littered on the system. Though the price tag might seem like a bargain, fans of the franchise won't be getting much for their dollar here. If you're looking for mini-game fun, there are far better games to choose from; if you're merely looking for more Playmobil-style enjoyment, your money's likely better spent on the actual toys.
CCC Freelancer Writer