Carnival Island PS3 Review

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – Developer – Magic Pixel Games/Sony Santa Monica – Genre – Mini game compilation – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 3+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

Mini game collections are often hugely maligned but purchased avidly by a certain player. Ever since the inception of the Wii, we’ve had loads of mini game compilations, some of which were a lot of fun while the rest felt like half-hearted attempts. Of course with the PS3’s Move controller, we were also going to see such collections, and Carnival Island is one of them.

2K Games have enjoyed plenty of success with their Carnival Games series, so it seems as though Sony have hopped on the bandwagon and released their own version, perhaps hoping that the naive people out there will go out and buy this in their droves, thinking it’s the popular one that all their friends have been talking about. But regardless of Sony’s intentions, the good news is that Carnival Island is a very playable compilation.

Carnival Island has a fair number of funfair themed mini games, most of which makes deft use of the Move motion controller. There are varieties on bowling, hoop tossing, coin throwing, target shooting and more. There are an impressive number of mini games in the package, with some being very similar to others, although it’s still all good, particularly when you factor in that this can be purchased for under £20.

The controls are very well done, although largely don’t show the controller off to the best of its abilities. There’s definitely an intuitiveness that will allow anyone to jump in and play, with clear instructions at the beginning of each game, and while many of the games are skill-based, button presses and such are kept to the bare minimum. Controls aren’t perfect, though, with the occasional mini game just not translating as well as it should have.

Carnival Island is split into party and story modes. The single player story mode has you restoring colour and life to an island, hopping between sections, playing the different mini games, and winning tickets which can be used to purchase cosmetic prizes. Unlocking the next mini game in each game type is done by completing two challenges in the previous one, with a total of 9 challenges – split into casual, hero and pro – in each game. There’s certainly plenty of content to keep all ages amused.

The main thing that is going to keep this in many people’s PS3’s, though, is definitely the multiplayer party mode. The game can be played by up to four players, either using a single or multiple Move controllers. Smartly, all the mini games can be played from the off in this mode, which gives instant variation and there’s no need to unlock any extra content for the group play.

The game is simple in style, but it’s still visually vibrant and appealing, with cartoon animals adding in some charm. The story mode has anime-inspired cut-scenes, while music and voice over work does begin to grate after awhile. I certainly got sick of being told that “I’ve got my ball back” by a voice that sounds vaguely like voice actor James Arnold Taylor.

It’s also a shame that loading times last an annoying amount of time, and the story mode in particular will have you waiting for a large amount of the time. Surely such a simple game needn’t have been bogged down by such waiting times, and this is one of the most glaring flaws.

But Carnival Island is still a likeable enough casual game that once again shows the accuracy of Move, although perhaps not to the best of its abilities. True, the game does have its problems, but there’s plenty of content for its low RRP of £20, and you may find yourself playing it for hours in order to complete all the challenges. This is one funfair that is mostly worth attending.