What Happens on the Island, Stays on the Island
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 1 Comment
A few weeks back, I wrote a pretty extensive, incredibly in-depth preview of the PS3 exclusive minigame-fest, Carnival Island. Well we finally got our review copy in, and all I can say is holy shit — I did not expect to have half as much fun as I did. I fired up a copy of the game, brews in hand with a couple of the other Wrecked guys ready to drunken-review the shit out of this game and you know what? We had a blast.
Carnival Island supports anywhere from 1-4 players with up to two PS Move controllers at once, so don’t worry about having to buy a ton of those orb-tipped wands, you can totally get by with having just one. In fact, most of the time the game doesn’t support simultaneous gameplay, you’ll be taking turns instead, so get used to passing those controllers anyway. There are 35 different mini-games split up over a handful of different categories: skee-ball, basketball, mallet games, ring toss, coin toss, and shooting gallery. I didn’t realize how many variations can stem from a simple concept like skee-ball until I played five or six of them back to back. Carnival Island sports a pretty cool playlist option though, you can select up to six different games to play with one over-arching score. So just pick your games you want to play, your character to cheer you on, then you’re good to go. Yeah, make no mistake, you don’t pick your character, you pick the animal you want to hear a steamy pile of blind encouragement from for the next hour or two.
Sean picked a fish with a scuba mask that I lackadaisically named Bubbles, Randall picked that slimy, two-faced, possibly lobotomized panda that graces the games cover, and I chose a retarded triceratops. I kid you not, you should buy this game just to hear the sounds that damn triceratops makes. You will not doubt the intelligence (or lack thereof) of that damn dirty dinosaur. Wonderful characters like these and others will make random noises and pour on more loads of undeserved compliments than the mother of the fat kid trying out an elementary school soccer team. Look, I’m all for encouraging the kids that will undoubtedly play this game, but if I’m playing skee-ball and I miss the 50 points in the center only to be graced with the measly 10 points I get for failing, I don’t want the game to tell me I did great, or that I have a good arm! How does that build character?! … Sorry, got a bit carried away.
I was immediately surprised by how intuitive most of these mini-games ended up being. Before every game, you have the option to read the rules, but as three grown men playing a game aimed at families and that weird uncle that always stays too late at all those family functions that you’re never really sure how you’re related to in the first place — we didn’t need no stinking rules. That being said, it took at worst two or three attempts to figure out exactly how to play the game, and more importantly, how to beat each other’s scores. I have to give credit to the PS Move controller set up, all the carnival games included are perfectly designed for the versatile device; allowing you to lob skee-balls with ease, toss rings away like a stripper on Valentine’s Day, and hammer your mallet til the cows come home.
Which brings me to my next point: the “Frog Bog” mini-games really are Carnival Island‘s claim to fame. Let me explain. First you strike your mallet against this flowery catapult-like device that launches a (seemingly dead) frog with a propeller-hat into a swamp full of glowing lily pad targets with varying scores. You pilot the airborne frog by moving your wand like a joystick, dangerously bouncing off mushrooms for bonus points before eventually splatting your lifeless frog atop the target of your choice. Somehow this entranced us. We made it a game-within-a-game to hit each and every mushroom before landing on a lily pad, and put our differences aside so we could yell and cheer when one of us would successfully pilot our frog around the poisonous toxins and intrusive foliage that stood before us. Yeah, I know, we got really into it.
So all you really need to know is that Carnival Island is fun — a lot of fun. It’s hardly the single-handed killer app that you need to rush out and buy a Move controller for, but if you already have one of those bad boys and you’re looking for something to play with your family or with a group of drunken friends (invite us over!) for a cheap buck, this is money well spent. At an MSRP of $39.99, it’s hardly asking much for a solid multiplayer offering from a small studio of talented guys. With only 35 mini-games comprised of variations of a few carnival staples though, it may not get you through the whole night of that dreaded family function, but it’s got enough staying power to keep you and your fam occupied until your parents drink themselves to sleep.