A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
Parents and caregivers: Set limits for violence and more with Plus
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a party game composed of the classic pay-per-play games that line carnival midways. It contains no sexuality, profanity, or violence. There are a couple of shooting mini-games, but these challenges see players firing air rifles at inanimate targets such as wooden ducks and paper stars rather than other players or characters. The mini-games are easy to learn with intuitive controls, and consequently, this is a game that parents and kids can play together at roughly the same level.
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What's it about?
CARNIVAL GAMES is a collection of mini-games that collectively recreate the classic midway experience. Players will toss coins onto small plates, squirt water into a clown's mouth to fill a balloon with air, and throw baseballs at stacks of milk cans. Each game makes use of the Wii remote's unique capabilities. For example, players need to make an overhand throwing motion to throw baseballs at clown faces, and an underhand lobbing motion to roll balls down an alley. All told, there are more than two dozen activities, almost all of which will be known to experienced carnival-goers. You can play alone to earn virtual prizes, or with up to three friends in competitions composed of five randomly selected games.
Is it any good?
Party games are a staple of the Wii's rapidly expanding game library, and Carnival Games sits comfortably in the middle of the pack. Its collection of boardwalk-themed minigames is modest but pleasant; thanks to the familiarity of midway activities like tossing pigskins through swinging tires and rolling a bowling ball on rails into a U-shaped dip. And keep in mind that, should you start to feel frustrated because you just can't toss that baseball into the bucket, it's probably not the fault of the game's natural, motion sensitive controls, but rather a testament to its authenticity -- after all, how often do you get the ball in the bucket at a real midway? On the bright side, it might just teach your family a lesson about the odds of winning a real world carnival game (and help save a bit of money on your next trip to the fair, to boot).
Still, some players have a low tolerance for games that depend on luck, as many of these minigames do. It can be frustrating to watch your coins repeatedly bounce off the plate as you toss them when those of other players inexplicably stick in place. What's more, Carnival Games suffers from a distinct lack of depth. It has no story, offers just a few simple modes of play, and there are no long-term goals other than reaching the top of the leader board. It can be fun for a while, but it's unlikely that Carnival Games will become a regular part of your family's gaming regimen.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between games of skill and games of chance. Through practice, can a player become good at Carnival Games' activities, or do they rely more on luck than proficiency? Do you find any of the mini-games more difficult than you thought they would be at first glance? This conversation can segue into a discussion about actual carnivals, and how the real-life versions of the games found in this video game are often cleverly designed to appear easier than they actually are in order to attract players.
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