Wonder World Amusement Park Review for the Nintendo Wii

Wonder World Amusement Park Review for the Nintendo Wii

It’s getting to the point where there are so many mini-game collections available for the Wii, developers are going to have to really start stepping it up to get players – even the most naive of casual players – to take notice anymore. The novelty has long worn off, and it’s hard to find more than a few good titles scattered among the garbage littering the sub-genre. Even worse, the majority of the mini-game collections still being released on the Wii seem uninspired and lazily slapped together. Wonder World Amusement Park is not the diamond in the rough you’ve been waiting for.

Wonder World Amusement Park screenshot

Thematically, this latest batch of amusement park oriented mini-games initially evokes sour feelings of déjà vu. Didn’t we see something almost exactly like this pop up last summer? Sadly, yes. The concept is essentially a repeat of 2007’s Carnival Games: a relatively successful yet underwhelming collection of – you guessed it – amusement park oriented mini-games. Wonder World does a few things differently, but it’s hardly an improvement.

Creating your own custom character isn’t as entertaining or flexible a process as it could be, but the options to choose from are decent. Initially, it was difficult to create a non-feminine looking male character (the first few attempts simply resulted in what appeared to be a theme-park enthusiast masquerading in drag). With a little time and messing around, it’s possible to come up with some interesting variations. Once you get this task out of the way, it’s time to get down to business; yes, that’s exactly what playing Wonder World feels like.

Wonder World Amusement Park screenshot

The five fantasy-themed areas in this unusual amusement park- Carnival, Spookyville, Fairytale, Pirate, and Space – each offer a creatively decked out batch of mini-games and an unlockable ride (basically a slightly more elaborate mini-game). Only the first tier of games is open at the start, so gaining access to each area is a matter of accruing enough tickets (by playing mini-games) to purchase a pass to move onward to a new section of the park. In many other games, this unlocking-to-progress mechanic feels fun and rewarding, but here it’s downright tedium incarnate.

Very few of the mini-games themselves are actually enjoyable; it’s a significant problem, given the game’s scope. The variety seems good at first; there’s whack-a-mole, ball toss, shooting gallery, frog fishing, and numerous other carnival style games, and each offers a wacky twist on the theme for the particular area. As you unlock other areas of the park, you’ll soon realize many of the “new” games are only slight variations on games you’ve already played earlier in the collection. There are some exceptions, but even the best nuggets are only good because they’re the least offensive to play.

Unfortunately, you’ll need a certain amount of tickets just to play all but one of the games in a particular area. This needlessly creates two added layers of challenge. In most cases, you’ll be spending hard-earned tickets to gain only a slightly greater number of hard-earned tickets, and there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed. Some activities are more expensive than others, but it’s awful to fail at a game and lose a large chunk of your accumulated paper booty in the process – especially given the painstaking grind you’ll have to face to regain it.

Wonder World Amusement Park screenshot

Though you’ll probably try all the games available in an area more than once, this system discourages revisiting tougher games. It’s easier to find the least irritating moneymaker and stick with it. Once you do have plenty of tickets, they can be spent on prizes in the area of the park you won them, but they don’t carry over when transitioning to another zone. Most prizes are worthless; they’re simply lame items you can access in one of the menu screens that have no function or value. Buying all the prizes in an area does open the single “ride” in that section of the park, and special passes can be bought to move to new areas.

Wonder World Amusement Park screenshot

Building up enough tickets to progress doesn’t take very long, but it seems unnecessarily frustrating. Compounding this problem is the fact the game doesn’t indicate how many tickets you’ve won each time you complete a challenge. This makes it harder to track your winnings. Another frequent issue is you can’t tell whether a game costs tickets to play or how to play it until you select the particular game and wait for a sub-menu to load (load times?!!). Once it does load, you’re faced with scrolling through irreverent text delivered by any number of crazily dressed barkers.

Some mini-games control better than others. Overall, the range of different controls schemes incorporated into the collection – using the Wii Remote on its own and occasionally with the Nunchuk – is good. Even without reading the instructions menu for each game, it’s not difficult to grasp what must be done. Most of the annoyances in this area come when the controls cause your limbs to ache painfully from uncomfortable repetitive motion or are simply poorly implemented.

The presentation also has its flaws. Instead of free-roaming and walking up to each mini-game booth in any given area, you’re plopped statically in the middle of them. All you can do is pan your view left or right to highlight a game. When pointing at a booth, the game’s name pops up, but no other information is given – you’ll have to plod through the slow-loading sub-menu for that. Wonder World does have some visually interesting elements – like the way each game is playfully doctored-up in accordance with the different themes – but the graphics are not particularly impressive.

Wonder World falls well short of delivering on the fun-filled amusement it promises. Almost every aspect of the game, from premise to execution, is highly derivative and substantially lacking. The for-the-whole-family appeal is certainly present, but your money is better spent taking the gang out to experience the real thing.

Keep moving, nothing to see here folks. 2.0 Control
Some games play well, most do not. You’re likely to get serious cramps from most of the games in this collection. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sparse and unexciting sounds all around. 2.0

Play Value
Too much repetition and recycling here. Only a few of the games are actually fun.

2.2 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Use your Wii Remote and Nunchuk to throw, draw, shoot, pump, grab, shake, and more as you unlock 30 different park mini-games that range from Shut Your Trap to Island Defender.
  • No amusement park is complete without exciting rides: bumper ships, pirate ship, sky cannon, castle terror, and tunnel of love.
  • Select, create, and modify your own unique character. Pick your body type, facial features, outfit, and accessories, then trick your character out with costumes you unlock throughout the park.
  • Explore the park’s five themed zones: Carnival, Spookyville, Fairytale, Pirate, and Space.
  • Play mini-games to win tickets to spend on prizes for your collection.
  • Experience three gameplay modes: Story Mode, Quick Play, and Party Mode.

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