A Carnival that is only a little bit creepy.
Starting out almost like a “Ghibli-esque” anime movie, Carnival Island for PS3 shocked me. I went in expecting a fairly generic collection of mini-games, not being the first collection centered around a Carnival. Then I was greeted by this colourful cartoon pre-story (yes, amazingly, there is an objective) that set up the game. Finally, I was thrown back to reality with a selection of mini-games that, again surprisingly, are actually based around Carnival attractions.
The massive push of PlayStation Move titles ready for the holiday period, of which this is but one, continues unabated. The emphasis of this sudden tidal wave of games to be played with the ping pong ball and wand controller that is Move, is all about family friendly fun, and why not? Christmas is coming and we can’t be letting the Wii get all of the festive action.
So, Carnival Island starts you off with a quite impressive intro that shows two young children finding what appear to be magical Carnival tickets. With these, they run to the strangely black and white Carnival and are told that it is down to them to bring colour back tothe Carnival by playing the various games found within. Oh, and they are also told that they will be accompanied and cheered on by a rather large Panda that seems slightly obsessed with cup cakes.
The Panda is indeed the first animal of many that the layer will have following them around and giving them moral support. By completing challenges within the games, the player will unlock new animals, each with their own story, that will cheer the player on and, once enough animals are unlocked, make the Ferris Wheel work again.
The Island has four areas, each of which need to have their colour brought back. Each area has two different game stalls, although one of these stalls is simply a photo booth, meaning seven game stalls in total. The games themselves are exactly the sort you would expect to find at a Carnival, such as a shooting gallery, ring toss or basketball hoop shooting.Each of the games has nine challenges assigned to it, such as achieving a certain score and such, and once the player has completed two of the challenges, they unlock the animal for that game and also unlock a variation of that game. With each game having multiple variations, there is actually quite a lot to do.
The variations are all based around the theme of the game in question.For example, the shooting gallery first had me shooting moving targets in an alleyway. Variations on this may include me having to shoot all of the cans and bottles in a bar with only a limited number of bullets, or shooting one colour of ball fired from a cannon while avoiding the other colours. In the grand scheme of things, they are all fairly similar, but fun nonetheless.
Playing the mini-games will reward the player not only with unlockable animals and further variations, but also carnival tickets. These can be exchanged for balloons, of which there are a fair number of varieties to discover, or prizes from Granny’s stall. I am not really certain as to the purpose of these prizes, most of which the player can either carry or store in their backpack and some of which can be placed in the carnival park, but there are plenty to collect and the player will have to play a lot of games to get the necessary tickets.
Family friendly is the name of the game with Carnival Island and as such the games are not exactly taxing. Some of them may prove a little tricky, but they at no point become frustrating. Thankfully the Move controller performs really well through all of the games, allowing for precision rolling, throwing and even shooting. Most of the games are really easy to control, and they all have a picture before the game starts showing how to play.
The visuals are bright and bold with an abundance of colour – except for the areas that are black and white which the player has yet to bring colour back to. There is a moment when the player does bring the colour back to an area, that the colour is so vivid that it actually seemed to bleed on our TV. Thankfully it calmed down straight after, but for that brief moment the effect was quite jarring.
Carnival Island ticks all the right boxes to be a firm favorite amongst the younger gamers. Everything works really well, there is a decent variety of games and plenty of things to collect, ensuring players come back for more. The games, although authentic to the Carnival theme, are not exactly exciting, but they are enjoyable and relaxing, especially with multiple players taking things in turns. It is not a massive game, and it is not a game that will be pulled out after a party. But for families with young children wanting some light and easy PlayStation Move entertainment, Carnival Island fits the bill quite well.