A fun trip to the fair this is not. Carnival Games VR is basically a re-release of the same game that hit the Nintendo Wii a few years back, though it’s been given a fresh lick of paint and a re-work for the game to operate with the PlayStation VR headset.
I was actually really looking forward to this one as I’m a bit of a sucker for mini-game compilations – and it’s been years since I’ve been to the fun fair and I’ve got the addictive personality that makes collecting tickets a real buzz. It’s a shame, then, that Carnival Games VR doesn’t really have the ability to keep me hooked in the same way the actual fun fair does, nor other VR games for that matter.
Let’s start with the basics: You’re a pair of floating hands and you control the game with the PlayStation Move wands while you can have a look around the game world by moving your noggin. For the most part, the tracking and controls work fairly well, though some of the mini-games leave a lot to be desired while others work surprisingly well. I started off my time with Carnival Games VR by heading into the first section of the carnival; there are four sections to unlock, and each has a few different games to play.
Looking around the first section – a cowboy-themed area – I spotted my old favourite fair ground money-waster: the thing where you throw balls at tin cans. There’s probably a proper name for it but for the purpose of this review we’ll just call it the tin-can knockdown, although instead of it being tin cans, it’s milk bottles. I stepped up to the plate and readied my swinging arm, then the chubby little mustachioed carnival chap gave me a few words of encouragement, and I was away. Three balls. Three chances. Three completely wild misses. I’m not normally this shite at throwing a ball but Carnival Games was pretty insistent on making me look bad in front of Charlie, my 6-month old son.
I took my headset off to make sure I was sat in the right place in the living room and that there was no chance of smacking Charlie in the face with the wands. Nope, all was good, though Charlie did have a look that said ‘Dad, you’re a pansy’ on his face. Damn you, Charlie, you can’t even walk yet. Idiot…
I put the headset back on and got stuck in again. After a bit of trial and error I found that throwing the ball at a bit of an odd angle to work best. It didn’t feel quite right though, and it was far from my natural throwing position and method, but it worked. This probably boils down to something that’s a bit of a problem with PSVR games: the PS Move’s glowing sticks interfering with the head tracking lights.
After a good 20 minutes of throwing my digital balls at milk bottles, I’d somewhat gotten the hang of it and had earned enough tickets to bag myself some swag. The chirpy little carnival dude directed me towards the gift shop and suggested I spend my tickets to unlock another game. See, you don’t get access to every game from the get go; you need to earn tickets to buy certain prizes which unlock certain games and new areas. To be honest, this “progression” doesn’t really last all that long, and within an hour I’d unlocked all the games available in Carnival Games VR.
Once I’d unlocked everything, I’d played everything. Unfortunately there wasn’t much that really kept me entertained for more than a couple of goes, though there is one special little golden nugget within this game: the wall climb. It’s a digital death climb where you need to make your way to the top of the castle by shimmying across ropes, scrambling up rock-climbing walls, and performing daring stunts. The last part is actually optional, though I found myself pulling off some risky maneuvers to spice things up. It’s by far and away the highlight of the mini-game compilation, but even then it’s a relatively short 3-4 minute experience.
Most of the mini-games last no more than a couple of minutes. That’s not a bad thing if every game is to your liking, but I personally didn’t really like the ring toss, balloon darts, or the game where you have to catch baseballs that come at you with increasing speed and spin, and when you’re not too keen on three of the games, that’s a quarter of the package wasted. But that’s just me, other may find every game to be enjoyable, but there’s bound to be some who dislike even more of them.
The game’s themselves aren’t bad, it’s just a little shallow. There’s a glimmer of potential, but unfortunately the best of the collection is over just as it’s getting good. For example, the haunted house is a fun little ride where you shoot at ghouls and witches and spiders and zombies, but just as I’m getting really stuck into it – boom – the ride ends. Perhaps with a few more games in the collection Carnival Games VR could have been what the game always wanted to be on the Wii.
Carnival Games VR Review - PS4/PSVR
Overall - Not Bad - 5/10
Carnival Games VR is pretty good the first time, but after you’ve given each of the 12 mini-games a whirl there’s not much else to do. There’s leaderboards, trophies and prizes to collect, but aside from that, there’s not much going for this compilation.
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