Carnival Games VR is currently on a 75% off right now on Steam, and so I guess I will take this opportunity to review this game here.
2K Games’ Carnival Games series is a game series, that is targeted towards the casual gamer audience. It made its mark on the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and 3DS system, as well as XBox 360’s Kinect, as a series that strings various carnival games in video game form.
The series are mostly designed as a showcase title for friend’s gathering, being designed most often around the unique features of the system (especially the control system). On Wii, it uses heavily on the Wii motion. On DS and 3DS, it uses the touch screen and the 3D effect, and on XBox 360, it uses the Kinect motion. Perhaps this is also a result of the studio exploring these special features.
Virtual Reality is on the rise, so a Carnival Games VR seems fitting, allowing the studio to take this opportunity to test out VR, as well as releasing another game in the series. This also marks the series debut on the Playstation, as well as PC platform.
The content you can expect is rather blatant: it is a video game that allows you to play carnival games, in virtual reality using the motion controllers. There are 12 carnival games in all, each showcasing the different possibilities of VR in a basic way, spread across 4 alleys (so there’s 4 carnival games in each alley) with unique playroom themes.
Your result performance determines the number of tickets that you can obtain. These tickets can be used to exchange virtual prizes and game modes. These virtual prizes are kept in the Play Room, where you can interact with them (they serves to improve the replayability of the game). Collecting the virtual prizes unlock achievements too.
These carnival games sport better visual and better physics over its predecessors. Many of these mini games has appeared in previous titles, but is being optimized for VR to various degrees. Take for example, the “Funnel Cake Falls” from Carnival Games: In Action (for XBox Kinect) makes a return here. In both games, Funnel Cake Falls is a mini game where you have to catch funnel cakes (using a plate) that’s tossed at you from far. Here’s a comparison picture:
On the left, is the Xbox Kinect version, where the mini game is played with this angle of view, while the cakes are simply dropped down from the top, and you try to catch it with a plate. On the right is the VR version, where your avatar is now situated much further away, with the funnel cakes being tossed over the air to you. Your view is not locked, and you are able to look around freely to see where the cakes end, and you now hold 2 plates.
In another example, is the “Ring Toss” game (on the left is from Carnival Games: In Action, on the right is Carnival Games VR). There isn’t much difference in terms of the basic gameplay premise for this, but you have more freedom of view, revamped visual, a more accurate tossing of the rings (thanks to much better tracking) and elements like scores and leaderboard.
The same thing also applies to the other mini games, such as the “Spilled Milk”, where you have to toss balls to knock down stacked milk bottles,”Dunk the Punk” where you toss ball to hit the target in order to dunk the character. Replaying these games in VR are rather refreshing.
This game also sports its original mini games too, take for example, the game where you have to race against time as you climb and scale tower to reach the destination.
Some of these on-rail mini games however, suffer from lack of depth. Take for example, there is an on-rail shooting gallery which consist of only 1 short stage, which in my opinion, will have been better if there are multiple stages to choose from, to give the player more variety with the same gameplay.
Also, despite being a game catered for family session, this game is designed around solo play. It will have been better if social element is incorporated somehow, allowing multiple headsets or local crossplatform (eg another player plays on the flat screen monitor with another sets of motion controllers). On the good side, the mini games are rather easy to get into, and that their difficulty is rather fine.
This is a must-get title (especially at its dirt cheap price point of its 75% discount), and is a great showcase title of VR for your family and friends, due to its low barrier of entry, intuitive control and easy gameplay. The physics are much better compared to its predecessors, and the games in this compilation is rather fitting for VR as well. The game is rather lively too, with AI characters playing along with you as well as just simply hanging out at the carnival in general. The game is also highly polished too, and has a rather short loading time as well.
On the bad side, the games are rather shallow, and the carnival Barker is more annoying than entertaining at times. Its highly entertaining, but don’t expect to sink numerous hours into this game at one go. Its a title where you will go back for short session once a while. It also lack social aspect as well. There’s not only a lack of local co-op gameplay, but there is no multiplayer gameplay feature as well. It will have been great if you can compete with other VR players in real time in a basketball tossing game, but sadly you can only compete your score in leaderboards.
Carnival Games VR is available for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Playstation VR. If you like such mini-game compilation for VR, you can also check out Pierhead Arcade (for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift) and Retro Arcade: Neon (for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift) too.