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The original Carnival Games for Wii was a surprise hit among gamers, selling more than 1.5 million copies worldwide. Golfing games have become quite popular on the Nintendo console thanks to the system's motion controls. So it would only make sense to try and put the two together by expanding upon the putt-putt game featured within the original Cat Daddy Games title and release a full-fledged sequel, Carnival Games: Mini-Golf. Unfortunately, what might have seemed like a good idea at the time has stumbled greatly in its execution, resulting in a mini-golf experience that is definitely lacking.
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On the plus side, the game's controls are fairly simple and responsive, and the game starts you off with a tutorial so you can learn your way around. The 1 and 2 buttons are used to change the camera view. Pushing up and down on the Wiimote moves your golfer and pushing right or left allows you to change where you're aiming your shot. You push and hold the A button to initiate the swing, and move the remote like a golf club to build up power and release A to make contact. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to determine just how much power you're supposed to use to overcome the various obstacles on the courses, and there's a lot left to chance because of the way the holes are laid out. So while the game is easy to control, and in theory everything works smoothly, often times it doesn't really matter what kind of a shot you hit, since so much is left to chance.
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The game features both single-player and multi-player modes and several different themed mini-golf courses. In single-player, you can play against the Carnival Barker character or compete solo for a chance to earn prizes as well as coins which can be used to purchase new types of clothing, hats, clubs, and so on from the pro shop. All of these are used to customize your custom character. Again, in theory, this sounds great, but it's not. For a reason completely lost on this reviewer, the developers made it so you're only allowed to play one hole at a time. Also, while there are several different types of courses with varying difficulty levels, each has a grand total of just three holes. Furthermore, the holes themselves are too gimmicky, filled with pinball-type obstacles, inane motion controlled minigames, and other completely extraneous content that takes away from the simple pleasure of playing a round of putt-putt. I never thought they could completely ruin something as simple in concept, pure, and enjoyable as mini-golf, but somehow, Cat Daddy Games has found a way.
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Graphics and Sound
The visual style of Carnival Games: Mini-Golf is much like that of its predecessor, which is to say it utilizes cutesy graphics and bright colors, but it won't exactly tax the Wii's processing power or anything like that. It does have a certain charm, though, which is far more than I can say about the Barker's grating voice and continual use of puns that will make anyone over the age of 10 groan and sigh in disgust. After just a half an hour I was literally yelling at my TV trying to get the guy to shut up, and even casual spectators doing things in other rooms began commenting on how annoying the voiceovers were getting. On top of that, the game features silly post-hole skits featuring the golfers that can be amusing for a while, but quickly grow tiresome and repetitive.
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I thoroughly enjoyed the original Carnival Games, and I love to go mini-golfing, so naturally I expected to enjoy this title. What a disappointment it turned out to be. Instead of 9- or 18-hole courses with some themed obstacles, the game allows you to tackle just one hole at a time, often forces you to rely on pure dumb luck far more than actual skill, and tops it all off with absolutely irritating commentary from the shrill Carnival Barker. I'd much rather break out and replay Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour for the Gamecube or fire up the mini-golf game in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play than subject myself to another minute of the immensely underwhelming Carnival Games: Mini-Golf.