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Carnival Games: Mini Golf Wii Review

24/11/2008 Family Family Gamer Review
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Carnival Games: Mini Golf Nintendo Wii

Carnival Games: Mini Golf

Nintendo Wii


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This seems like it should be a complete no-brainer. After all, mini-golf is one of the most iconic of family bonding activities. With its cute little clubs, crazy rambling holes, and - if we're lucky - windmills, castles and dragons. Mini-golf seems like a sport tailor-made for the Wii system. And indeed, there are a number of mini-golf games currently out or in development (King of Clubs Wii, Crazy Mini Golf Wii). The one my family chose to try was Carnival Games : Mini Golf.

One thing must be noted right out of the gate, in order to save future families hours of frustration during the initial stages of play in this game: the swing does not work like golf on Wii-Sports. If you attempt to swing the golf club as you learned in Wii Sports, you will generate no power and your poor little mini-golf ball with roll, at most, an inch or a few centimeters.

In order to swing in Carnival Games: Mini Golf , you press the A button, swing the remote back and forth to build enough power, and then let go when the power is highest. It gives an all-or-nothing effect to the swing that makes any kind of grading very difficult. The laws of physics are also somewhat less than true in this game. I spent needless minutes counseling my son not to aim at the wall and hit the ball hard, since it would bounce over the wall and out of bounds. Of course, he did just what I asked him not to do, and the ball stayed happily on the course, giving said son the opportunity for a classic 'Told you so' moment.

They all have endearingly goofy celebratory rituals.

Carnival Games: Mini Golf is not without its charms. You choose and customize a character at the start - boy, girl, woman, or man - and outfit them as you wish. They all have endearingly goofy celebratory rituals that they go through when they complete the hole. Up to four players can play a course in Multi-player, giving everyone a chance to bomb together. In Single-Player mode, you can play the Barker narrator character, whom I've read elsewhere is obnoxious and irritating. Since my family plays only the multiplayer mode, we haven't experienced the Barker's verbalizations firsthand. The game starts out allowing you to play in three, colorful, wacky three-hole theme courses; as you successfully complete the holes, additional theme courses are unlocked.

Somewhere out there exists the perfect mini-golf game that combines luck and skill.

Therein lies the rub. Each of the three-hole courses consists of an Adventure Hole (a traditional mini-golf hole), a Challenge Hole that contains mini-game challenges to complete the hole, and a Trick Hole where luck and skill must combine to net you a hole-in-one. You only have three chances on these last holes, so once they're gone, you're done. For a family with younger kids, such as my own, these trick holes are next to impossible to achieve; and playing the same three courses over and over again gets a little old. An additional small frustrations include the fact that there does not seem to be a way to go back and retrieve information about a hole if, for example, one of the smaller members playing hits the A button and skips right through the explanation.

Somewhere out there exists the perfect mini-golf game that combines luck and skill, in which kids can compete against their parents and even win sometimes, and that uses today's video-game technology to create courses that could never exist in real life. Carnival Games: Mini Golf is not that game.

Written by Andy Robertson

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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