A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
When the original Carnival Games launched last year, it was packed with minigames that were sometimes flawed. And you didn't get that much bang for the buck. Yet it's sold over 1.5 million copies to date. With CARNIVAL GAMES MINIGOLF, the same strange, mocking carnival barker is your host and tutor as you play over two dozen holes of miniature golf. The primary challenge here is to earn pieces of a puzzle that will allow you to open new holes. You will also want to run your golf ball over coins, so that you can purchase items like golf balls and clothing to customize your avatar.
MiniGolf's holes are grouped by themes and by difficulty (easy, medium, and hard.) Each of six courses has three holes which are kind of like Rube Goldberg devices in that many things happen at one time after you hit the ball. You aim by using the Wii reMote's D-pad; and hit the ball by pressing 'A', then swinging, then releasing the 'A' button. You can choose to play solo, with up to four friends, or with the fast-talking barker.
Is it any good?
What's likeable about the game? The holes are cleverly animated with, for instance, witches flying around and spiders crawling over the green on a haunted house hole. As part of the prehistoric theme, a pterodactyl will grab your ball and take you to a cavern for a mini game in which you use the Wii remote to fly high and low past obstacles. Similarly, in an old mine-themed hole in the Wild West section, you have to shoot ghosts in the mine before your ball comes out of the cavernous, spooky ruins and lands hear the flag. All of these mini games are a hoot and mildly challenging. One really ingenious hole has you putting the ball to hit dynamite, which then launches the ball into more dynamite and then into the hole. It's pretty exhilarating to watch.
While there's no denying that MiniGolf is entertaining, there are still flaws that set it back. For instance, you really have to whack the ball to get it to go with some speed, swinging fully of as you would in a real game of golf. The ball might roll into a corner, but the game then automatically places it in the middle of the course. You'll kind of wish there were more mini games in each hole, too, just so there would be more game here and more challenge. Along the way, you'll get prizes like a putter that looks like a train engine. But these add no skill to your game, just a cool-ish look to dress up your avatar. Also, the game would get more props if it had an online mode to play against folks who are hither and yon. Finally, younger, more sensitive players may become frustrated by the sometimes-mocking barker.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what kind of fantasy minigolf course they would make if they had the wherewithall to create their own courses. Would you make a prehistoric theme or a scary theme? What other great themes can you think of that aren't in the game? How about presidential theme or a celebrity theme?
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