Wonder World Amusement Park Review for Nintendo DS

Wonder World Amusement Park Review for Nintendo DS

Small Package,
Big Improvement

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.

Wonder World Amusement Park screenshot

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.

Wonder World Amusement Park screenshot

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.

Wonder World Amusement Park screenshot

Almost all of the games are controlled by the stylus, and the touch controls make the activities more fun. Unlike the Wii version (which featured mini-games with broken Wii-Remote controls), Wonder World Amusement Park’s system-specific controls actually work well, for the most part.

Wonder World Amusement Park screenshot

You’ll use the stylus in a variety of ways. Toss games typically have you dragging the stylus from the bottom of the screen to the top and releasing it to throw; shooting games have you tapping the screen; other activities generally involve a combination of the two. Sometimes the stylus swipes won’t register properly; most of the time they do. The touch controls initially take some getting used to, depending on the specific mini-game. Still, it’s easy to pick up and play with this title; the instructions for each activity are thankfully intuitive and easy to grasp.

A more pleasant, straightforward presentation further irons out some of the issues from the Wii version. It falls on the goofy side of things, yet this is likely to appeal to the younger players who will be drawn to the title. The cel-shaded look may not be as technologically slick as the Wii graphics, but it makes the mini-games in the DS version look stylish and better composed. The striking differences in each visual theme also does a great job of giving the illusion of variety, even when it’s not as present in the gameplay as you’d expect from a mini-game collection.

It shouldn’t take most players – even younger gamers – particularly long to plow through the six areas and 30 mini-games Wonder World Amusement Park has to offer. This is mainly due to the smart decision to completely do away with charging players tickets to compete in most of the game activities. The Wii version required players to give up some of their hard earned tickets just to play the bulk of the mini-games. If they failed at a game, some of their bounty would be lost, and their chances of winning more tickets greatly impeded. This system not only made it artificially tougher to progress, it made the process of determining how many tickets you’d actually win in a particular game more complicated than necessary. Taking away this frustration is a double-edged sword, since it makes it much easier to complete the game very quickly.

Wonder World Amusement Park is one of the rare occasions where a handheld version is actually far better than the console edition. It’s a decent themed mini-game collection with reasonable replay value and just enough charm to keep younger players busy for an hour or two at a time. The budget price looks about right for the entertainment value.

The cel-shaded graphics are a nice touch. 3.7 Control
Stylus-driven controls work far better here than the waggle found in the Wii version. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sound effects in each game are decent, the music isn’t particularly interesting. 3.4

Play Value
It’s a little too easy to blow through the entire game in a single sitting, but some of the mini-games will keep players coming back for more.

3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Use the Touch Screen to toss, drive, shoot, whack, fish, spin, and more as you unlock 30 different park mini-games.
  • Explore the park’s six themed zones: Carnival, Spookyville, Fairytale, Prehistoric, Pirate, and Space.
  • Play mini-games to win tickets to spend on prizes for your collection or new outfits and accessories for your character.
  • Challenge a friend using local Wi-Fi multiplayer.
  • Meet eight unique characters throughout your day at the park.

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