Carnival Games Review for the Nintendo Wii

Carnival Games Review for the Nintendo Wii

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Unless you have kids, you might not have gone to a fair for quite a while. However, everyone knows it’s kind of fun to go out, play some of those silly games, eat a corndog, some cotton candy, and go up on the big wheel.

Carnival Games screenshot

Most carnival games require very good luck and actual skills. The reality is few people have actual abilities to win those kinds of games. That’s why it’s such a good deal for the carnies and such a bad deal for us. What do they have to lose? Nothing really; just a couple of stuffed animals or a cheesy FM radio made in China. And what do we lose? – A couple of bucks every time we play, because most likely we won’t win. In any case, playing carnival games is just for fun; no one plays with real expectations, other than the actual enjoyment. And that’s what you should expect from this game, right? However, that’s questionable too! Carnival Games for the Wii might not be the party game you’re looking for… I’m just letting you know, and I hope it’s not too late.

Carnival Games contains a couple dozens of minigames, all inspired in traditional fair challenges, with variations of target-shooting games (like shooting rubber ducks, clowns, etc.), ring-toss, mini-putting, dart shooting (pop the balloons!), and ball throwing (like the one where you knock down milk bottles or the one where you throw the ball towards the target in order to plunge the carnie into the water tank). My personal favorites are Nerves-O-Steel (you move the ring along the electrified wire without touching it), which is kind of weird to play with the Wii-mote, and a couple of Skeeball variations, which feel as good as bowling on Wii Sports. Some minigames might keep you interested for a couple of rounds while others were designed so badly you’ll just wish the game to end – like coin tossing games, where you try to aim towards the “lucky cups” with the Wii-mote and at the same time you have to simulate a throw. The time you spent aiming ends up being a waste because the coin is going to go wherever destiny takes it, plus it bounces a few times before it lands in a cup. All these games are distributed between four different groups, at the end of which you’ll unlock a classic fair attraction, like the fortune teller’s booth, the strength contest (where you shake the Wii-mote first, instead of just hammering it down fast), horse races, etc.

Carnival Games has been designed with kids and parents in mind. However, if you would like to find a new game to enjoy with your kids because you’re tired of Wii Sports, you ought to look elsewhere. Carnival Games could have been fun, and although the graphics don’t look very promising when you turn it on, somehow it seems like the game is going to be decent. Don’t be fooled, though; learning to play some of the games is more trouble than they’re worth, and the Mii-looking characters have less customization options than the Miis themselves (I’ve always wanted more clothes for the Miis, more realistic noses, and different hair colors). The prizes you get are not motivating enough and, most importantly, the controls are poorly designed in many cases, which results in dreary and undesirable gameplay.

Carnival Games screenshot

So, what’s good about Carnival Games? The number of minigames available and maybe the character design, along with a handful of games that are a bit more challenging and better designed. I like how the carnies look like shady swindlers ready to abuse your innocent hopes of winning the next round. The characters you create are goofy, three-dimensional people that look a lot like a Mii. Unfortunately, the character creator is so limited that the fun ends before it starts. You’ll obtain some new accessories after playing a few rounds of minigames, but nothing too special: just some funky shoes, hats, etc. The other prizes you get are stuffed animals of various sizes and, eventually, advanced versions of some of the already played minigames. Once more, we know the game could have been designed with much more attention to detail and higher-end visuals; however, nobody seems to enjoy pushing the Wii’s envelope and the game looks just slightly better than a GameCube game. It is very colorful and images look sharper than on the good ol’ cubed box (though with jaggies) but it doesn’t really do much for gamers with a more exquisite taste. I guess kids and parents wouldn’t care because all they want is to have fun.

The soundtrack won’t win an award either, but it’s not horrible, just mediocre. You’ll hear the tunes you would when you hang out at the fair or when you pass by the Merry-Go-Round at the mall. The carnies make fun of you when you’re trying your luck at their minigames, and they yell at people to make them participate and hope for a prize, contributing to the overall ambiance of a street fair. They sound as trustworthy as they do in real life, to say the least.

Carnival Games screenshot

To be honest, one has to be “Wiified” enough to enjoy this game. The Wii is a great tool for entertainment, but that doesn’t mean we have to take whatever they throw at us. Carnival Games was a good idea, but it turned out far from satisfying or entertaining. It’s merely a gimmick to play with your friends once when they come over, if anything. However, if you have kids you might play it a couple of times a week, after a half hour of hearing “Daddyyy!! I wanna play it again…. Please, please, please! Can we?” That’s why I recommend a rental at most, if you like to try out the games available for the Wii; it’s just not worth the money.


  • Over 25 family-friendly games including: Frog Leap, Clown Splash, Ring Toss, Dunk Tank, Day at the Races, Lucky Cups, Hoops, Shooting Gallery, Hole-in-One, Nerves of Steel, and even The Great Swami, the mysterious fortune teller.
  • Advanced game physics combined with innovative Wii controller actions.
  • Win over 250 virtual carnival prizes like goldfish, pirate swords, and giant stuffed animals!
  • Have fun personalizing your in-game characters with wearable rewards like the famous Viking Horns and “Bling” necklace.

    Rating out of 5 Rating Description


    Over simplified, cartoonish graphics merely do their job.


    Although some of the minigames work decently, control flaws make this game boooring…


    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Remember the last time you passed by the Merry-Go-Round? That’s what you’ll hear – over and over again.


    Play Value
    The controls are complicated enough kids can’t play by themselves to start. Parents won’t have too much fun and might not be up for playing a second time around.


    Overall Rating Fair
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

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