Carnival Games: Mini-Golf Review
Carnival Games: Mini-Golf box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Cat Daddy Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: 2K Play 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 21, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

I have always been a fairly large fan of miniature golf. As a child, I loved the absurdly designed holes and brightly colored golf balls. Once I got a little older, I began to appreciate the skill involved in finding each hole’s optimal shot and trying to master it. When the Wii’s controller was initially announced, I had hoped that someone would create a miniature golf game for the system that would allow players to enjoy the hobby virtually by using realistic swinging mechanics. Unfortunately, while Carnival Games: MiniGolf does give players a virtual approximation of miniature golf; it sadly manages to fail more than it succeeds in being fun.

Carnival Games: Mini-Golf screenshot

Players start off the game by choosing a character, either a child or adult of male or female persuasions. You can then customize your character’s appearance by choosing their shape, color, clothing, and golfing equipment. None of these options will actually affect your golfing skills, only your appearance. All of your options are also preset so there is actually no direct manipulation of any of these elements. The options are somewhat limited to begin with but playing through the title will earn you tokens that can be used to unlock additional items to choose from.

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Once you’ve got your character’s look settled, you would think it’s finally time to hit the course for some miniature golf. Sadly, the single-player aspect of Carnival Games: MiniGolf doesn’t actually have any courses, traditionally speaking. Instead there are nine different themes to choose from, each containing three disjointed holes. These themes’ difficulties range from easy to hard, with the hard themes being unlocked by successfully completing the easy and medium ones.

Carnival Games: Mini-Golf screenshot

Each theme consists of a trick shot hole, a challenge hole, and an adventure hole. For the trick shot hole, precision is the key to victory. These holes can require quite a bit of trial and error, as you need to sink your ball in one shot to complete it. This can be especially challenging considering you’ll often need to time your shots perfectly and even make use of ramps to send your ball skyward. Challenge holes are more traditional miniature golf affairs, with the lowest possible stroke count being your ultimate goal. Adventure holes are very similar to challenge holes, with one exception. In every adventure hole there is a, often obvious, shortcut to be found that can lead to a quick hole-in-one. When you hit this shortcut, you will need to complete a mini-game that fits the theme of the hole on which you are playing. Success will earn a hole-in-one while failure results in your ball being placed somewhere far from the cup on the course. These mini-games are fairly enjoyable, ranging from a point and fire on-rail ghost shooter to catching eggs in a moveable basket by tilting the Wii-mote.

While the basic hole designs are well done for the most part, the game’s controls ultimately guarantee frustration. Aiming your shots is easy, adjusting your stance and aim with the D-pad while raising and lowering the camera with the 1 and 2 buttons to get a better look at the hole’s layout. Once your shot is lined up, players will need to hold down the A button and swing the Wii-mote, releasing the A button to make contact with the ball. There is absolutely no backswing required so just flailing the controller in any direction will work. It is incredibly difficult to judge how much power you are putting on a swing. I performed the same swing three times without releasing the A button and each time it resulted in a different maximum power on the swing meter. This kind of inaccuracy is ridiculous considering how precisely you’ll need to hit balls in the game, especially during trick shot holes.

Carnival Games: Mini-Golf screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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