Mini-game collections must sell really well because despite the universal sigh that's heard when one is announced they still keep releasing them. 2K Games, better known for violent epics like Vietcong 2 and Mafia, recently created a sub-label called 2K Play, a division of the company focusing on the casual gamer, who're apparently kids who love mini-games.
Carnival Games for the DS is just as the name and brand implies - a collection of carnival themed mini-games.
Starting the game, you'll feel the urge to crack out Animal Crossing - but why? Because Carnival Games draws inspiration from it quite heavily. You'll create an avatar and guide your little dude around the carnie grounds to find a mini-game to jump into. The experience does nothing more than to create a more interactive menu to select from, and though the blatant similarities with Animal Crossing are there, it's a good idea, and makes things a bit more involving.
Unfortunately that's where the nice presentation ends. The graphics are almost depressingly bland and the voice-work grating (don't play with the volume up)... There's an overbearing sense of developer tardiness or developer time constraints. It's more than likely the former as the game doesn't really have any competition for the rest of the year; I mean, Sonic Chronicles and The Force Unleashed... completely different games.
The game range is as you'd expect: whack-a-mole, gallery shooting, darts, all your favourites. For the most part, the games work, but the rest are either unplayable due to poor controls or because you've played them so many times before. There are a couple of highlights, and were the game $20 I'd say it was worth buying just for them.
One of those highlights is one called Frog Leap. Not only is it awesome, but you can share it wirelessly with your mates. Unfortunately, the other two games which are shareable are better kept to yourself. There are actually a massive number of games to play on your own so it's rather sad that only three made it to the wireless cut.
In the US, Carnival Games was released as a full price Nintendo DS title; in New Zealand however, we've only got to pay $49.99. For the amount of content available this represents excellent value, but because of the lack of quality of this content we're back to square one. If shooting your balls into the mouths of clowns is your thing then go for it. Otherwise you'd be better off waiting until it's half price, if only to play the addictive Frog Leap.