Carnival Games: Wild West

The Carnival Games series has been on a slippery slope since the Wii original. This is a fact made even worse than it initially seems when you bear in mind that the first Carnival Games wasn’t all that great to begin with. This didn’t stop it from being one of the Wii’s multi-million sellers though – 7 million copies sold, according to Wikipedia – and because of that it has become an instantly recognisable brand. Make no mistake, we’re going to be seeing these for a few more years yet.

The Kinect edition of Carnival Games was one of the most unpleasant things we’ve experienced for a very long time – every mini-game as ill conceived as the last, boiling down to sheer luck rather than skill – so you can imagine how surprised we were to find that Carnival Games: Wild West is very well made.

After messing around with the rather basic character creator you’re dropped onto the doorstep of a wild west-themed amusement park and free to roam around. There are shooting galleries of all different descriptions, quick draw shoot outs, arm wrestling and a dozen other mini-games to try your hand at. If none of these tickle your fancy then there are challenges inside the park to consider too. Bandits need rounding up – providing you’ve discovered their wanted posters first – and there’s also a long list of animals to photograph. A few people around the park also need your help and in most cases this involves winning a prize to resolve their problem.

Most of the mini-games use the 3DS’s magical innards and to an incredibly good effect. The shooting galleries use the gyroscope while the likes of arming wrestling require you to tilt the 3DS while keeping your character’s arm inside a white outline. There’s a good use of 3D too, especially during the mini-game that involves dodging projects.

The physics-based mini-games are the best on offer. Ricochet involves bouncing balls off walls and pillars to hit targets while another game entails placing dynamite under supports in a mine to make gold fall to the bottom of the screen. The tricky thing about the latter is you only get a few sticks of dynamite and the game ends as soon as you miss one piece of gold.

Just to highlight how varied the mini-games are, another is comparable to a tower defence game. Here you construct 2D cardboard cowboys and send them out to capture a base on the other side of the screen. It’s not one of the better games on offer, but it does show that the developers have tried to include things that are a darn sight more interesting than the likes of hoopla.

It’s the lack of consistency between the mini-games that’s the biggest downfall, but there are more decent ones than bad, and there are few extras to keep you playing, such as the chance to acquire a fishing rod which can be used around the park.

This is easily one of the better casual games released on the 3DS over the past few months, and certainly a welcome addition to the system’s ever growing library.

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