Developer: Magic Pixel Games
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 1-4
Carnival Island is part of Sony’s attempt at bringing family-friendly games to PlayStation Move. As the name suggests, the game is set on a magical carnival island which has become run down due to a lack of visitors. The game mainly consists of lots of mini games, 35 in total, which can be played with up to three of your friends, but do also have a story mode for those of you who’d like to play alone, and also tells the story of the carnival’s past history.
The story mode has you play as one of a pair of siblings, a boy and a girl, who stumble upon a pair of lost tickets and travel to the island. Upon reaching the island you’ll be met with a choice of an animal companion from a wide range. This companion doesn’t affect the story in any way, but can be seen cheering you on during the mini games. The game has you trying to restore the various areas of the carnival back to their former glory and bring its collection of animal mascots back to life. These mascots each have their own, often wacky, description when unlocked, such as “He loves Bacon”, but other than that offer little to gameplay, only appearing in the background cheering you on in a similar way to your initial animal companion.
The story does have the occasional cut-scene, told through beautifully designed animated cartoons, that add charm to the game, but apart from these the story itself is pretty much a wrapper for the mini games. The island itself is split into four areas, with each area having four stalls, two of the stalls are mini-games, one is a balloon vendor, and the other a prize stall. Each mini-game stall has five different games all based on one overall theme, such as hoops. In the story mode only the first mini-game for each is unlocked, and this must be completed to unlock the subsequent two. Completing a mini-game helps bring life and colour back to the area it’s in, showing off the game’s beautifully colourful graphics.
The mini-games are what you would expect to find in a carnival, with hoop toss, coin toss, and basketball hoops present, but there are a few unexpected twists, with one having you hit a pad to flick a small frog onto point-scoring lily pads. Each mini-game is easy to play, with intuitive controls using the Move motion controller’s in-built accuracy, for example in hoops a simple flick of the wrist throws the hoop towards the targets; miss and the required adjustment to your wrist flick can easily be worked out. Some of the games can be slightly fiddly to get to grips with initially, just like some are in a real carnival, but overall you could easily complete them all within a couple of tries. When you first select a mini-game instructions are shown on the screen, which is good for the first play but they are subsequently shown every time you play that game, which can get a bit annoying when replaying the game to get high scores.
As the story mode can be completely quite quickly the game does offer extras to keep you playing, this consist of challenges and reward tickets. Each mini-game has a set of challenges, ranging from the really easy to some devilishly tricky ones, with there being over 300 in total. You have to complete two of these challenges in a mini-game to unlock the next one in the series, and completing certain numbers of challenges will unlock new animal mascots. The tickets are rewarded for completing mini-games and basically act as the in-game currency, allowing you to purchase balloons, ice creams and other objects for your character, allowing you to customise them, but as the character is only seen when moving from area to area there’s little enticement to purchase them.
Apart from the story mode the game has a multiplayer mode for up to 4 players, and can be played with a Move controller each or as is more likely for most in a pass-the-controller fashion with a single controller. The players are represented in the game by their choice of the animal mascots, and their chosen animal will be shown sitting in the background in each mini-game. There are then two modes to choose from; Part Time, where the mini-games are randomly chosen by the game, and Pick and Play, where you chose the mini-games to play yourself, but one of the choices is surprise where a mini-game is chosen at random. All the games are unlocked by default in multiplayer, allowing quick access to the game. A nice feature in the multiplayer is the colour of the move control will be different for each player, and when playing with one it makes it easy to see whose turn it is.
Overall Carnival Island demonstrates the accuracy and what can be done with the Move controller well but offers little to keep you enticed once the story mode has been completed, and multiplayer games, although fun in short bursts and perfect for kids, become repetitive after a while.