The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Despite knowing the astronomical odds against winning anything substantial at a carnival’s ring toss or shooting gallery, I still find myself putting my dollars down on the counter with misguided optimism. How hard could it be to knock milk bottles off of a stand, or pop a balloon with a dart? Regardless of my high confidence levels, I rarely win the novelty sized gorilla or inflatable baseball bat. Instead, I usually walk away with less funnel cake money and lowered self-esteem.
Carnival Games: Monkey See, Monkey Do makes me feel like just as big of a loser. Since this game is designed exclusively for Kinect, I was periodically treated to keepsake snapshots of myself failing.
In the 20 minigames and attractions offered in this collection, victory is often dictated by dumb luck. You play ring toss without the knowledge of the ring’s weight or its exact release point, and good luck popping balloons when the game can’t read your dart throwing motion with the precision it needs to allow for skillful tosses. You probably have better odds of hitting a 100-mph fastball in real life than you do in this game. Without seeing a physical representation of the bat or its point of contact with the ball, timing a swing largely falls on chance.
The only minigames I enjoyed were the ones that didn’t draw heavy inspiration from actual carnival games. Waving your arms quickly to grab coins as a rollercoaster races dangerously around tight corners is a fun test of your reflexes. Moving left and right to balance a stack of funnel cakes, as odd as that may sound, requires strategy and steady hands. I also enjoyed posing in odd positions to make my silhouette cover as many gold bricks as possible (while avoiding black bricks). In the end, three enjoyable games out of twenty isn’t a great percentage.
Holding true to its carnival theme, even the prizes are lame. Tickets earned in each minigame can be exchanged for a wide variety of avatar awards, many of which seem desirable at first. I spent over 200 tickets on an awesome pirate outfit, and played a horrible hot air balloon race minigame dozens of times to get my ticket count over 900 so I could purchase a wizard’s hat and robes. Unfortunately, almost all of the avatar awards are only for use in this game; they don’t translate to your avatar on Xbox 360’s dashboard or other titles. Only the unimpressive bowler hat, bowler outfit, and monkey pet carry over.
You can also hand your hard-earned tickets to the Amazing Wodin – a fortune telling machine that tells groan-inducing knock-knock jokes – or spin the Wheel of Fortune to see if you can unlock a 200-point achievement. Like most of the games in this collection, unlocking this achievement requires nothing but time and luck.
Carnival Games: Monkey See, Monkey Do is too realistic for its own good. Outside of evil carnies appreciating the attention to detail, I can’t see anyone enjoying the frustration and feeling of helplessness that undermine most of the minigames.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.