Carnival Games: In Action

Another mini-game collection for Kinect? My word! Goodness gracious! Well I’ll be!

And now that my sarcasm has found an outlet, onto the review!

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Carnival Games in Action is the latest game in the — yep — Carnival Games series of mini-game collections. Previously on the Wii, the latest title has found a new home under the unblinking gaze of Microsoft’s eerily smart camera. And just like so many similar games that have come before, it’s an aggressively average affair that will provide moderate fun for a moderate amount of time.

As you can probably guess, all the mini-games here are carnival-themed, so you’ll be throwing rings onto wooden spikes, wielding a hammer as hard as you can, throwing darts at balloons, and so on. There are also more fanciful events, like a roller coaster with collectable coins, a robot punching bag, and imitating a dancing monkey.

Some games, as always, are more fun than others. That roller coaster one? Surprisingly cool, and oddly reminiscent of the special stage of Sonic 2 (is that why I liked it?). Contorting your body to match a pre-made shape in a brick wall as you slam into it? Hilarious with a few drinks! But on the flipside, of course, there are boring, banal and downright frustrating activities — I don’t think I’ll return to the one where you need to slowly and painfully guide a rocket ship through an obstacle course, which really isn’t as fun as it sounds.

One big criticism I have is the lack of activities sporting simultaneous multiplayer. C’mon guys, the Kinect is more than capable — why can’t two of us ride a roller coaster together? As it stands, you’ll have to generally wait in line to have a go. Oh, except for the activities that only support one player, which you won’t find out about until you’re already there.

Graphics are pretty basic, and sometimes look like they were lifted from the Wii versions. It doesn’t really matter in a game like this, but games like Kinect Adventures certainly look a ton more polished. The audio is best left muted, in my opinion — I don’t suffer ‘wacky’ hosts at the best of times (die, Buzz!), and the one in Carnival Games is just a tad too annoying.

So there you have it: another casual, family-friendly mini-game collection. If you’re looking for a single such title to pop in your Xbox 360, I’d still recommend sticking with Microsoft’s efforts: Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures. They remain the best on the system. But if you do grab Carnival Games in Action, it’s not the end of the world — there’s certainly enough in here to entertain and tire out the kids on a rainy day.

"Very middle-of-the-road, but not a train wreck at least."
- Carnival Games: In Action
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 5 Min


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