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 wasnâ€™t all that great to begin with. This didnâ€™t stop it from being one of the Wiiâ€™s multi-million sellers though â€“ 7 million copies sold, according to Wikipedia – and because of that it has become an instantly recognisable brand. Make no mistake, weâ€™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 weâ€™ve experienced for a very long time â€“ every mini-game as ill conceived as the last, boiling down to sheer luck rather than skill â€“ 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 youâ€™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 youâ€™ve discovered their wanted posters first – and thereâ€™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 3DSâ€™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 characterâ€™s arm inside a white outline. Thereâ€™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. Itâ€™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.
Itâ€™s the lack of consistency between the mini-games thatâ€™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 systemâ€™s ever growing library.