My 3DS is a little lacking in games right now. I did just pick it up only a few months ago along with a few RPG titles, and other than Pokemon coming out in a few months, I didn’t have much else to play besides more Pokemon DS titles I already own. Sensing a theme here? When the Funfair Party Games dropped in, I figured I’d give it a shot since my wife and I ended up enjoying the Carnival style games on the Wii and these we could take on the go and play together in a different set of Carnival style games. Some really shoddy motion controls, alternate working stylus controls and a really barebones feel to the game despite a variety to play make it hard to recommend even at the budget price point. Let’s take a look.
You’ve got a choice of eleven different fair games to choose from when you pop into the game and you can up how many tickets you have to play the different games any time you want. Most of these are timed or have a certain number of attempts before it kicks you back to your results screen. I think I’ll start by breaking down the games within the game and what they involve. Balloon Burst involves you tossing darts at balloons to pop them, trying to get them in clusters to get more at a time with a limited number of darts. Basketball involves trying to get as many baskets in the time allotted with a roaming target you can somewhat adjust and a power bar you have to try and hit the right point on in combination with the target. Camel Race is a ball rolling style game where you’re rolling balls at holes cut in the floor worth different distance amounts to your camel and playing against a computer opponent or other racers to get your camel across before everyone else. Duck Fishing involves a fake stream and a magnetized fishing pole for you to snag ducks and feed them to the waiting shark at the end of the stream as fast as you can before time runs out. Hot Wire is like a game of Operation, only you’re guiding a ring along an electrified piece of tubing trying not to touch the wire with the ring and change the orientation to follow the path as you go. Claw Crane is one of those stupid games where you’re trying for stuffed animals with a crane claw you have limited control over only you get more points for getting the animal they want you to grab.
Ball-In-The-Glass is pretty self-explanatory in that you’re trying to toss balls into glass jars on a tiered platform and get points for getting them into the jars. High Striker is the classic game of strength where you’re trying to use a mallet to hit a target and launch the indicator all the way to the top. There’s a weird way to do it with motion and the stylus version involves trying to hit the center of the target with the stylus like a mallet. Can Knockdown you’re trying to throw a ball and knockdown all the cans they have lined up. Shooting Gallery gives you a rifle that you have to shoot moving pigs and have a limited amount of ammo to do it with. They worked a reloading mechanic into it that makes it far more interesting than just aim and shoot. Last but not least, is Ball Roll which goes by many names, Skee Ball being the one I know it as. Basically you have to roll balls up a ramp and try to get them into different holes in the top of the board for points. It is a good variety to choose from at least and I admit that Ball Roll will probably keep me coming back to this collection more often than any of the others.
You’ve got two control options to play these games, Arcade which uses motion and a few buttons and Classic which is the stylus with a few buttons. I’m just going to throw this out there and say not to bother with Arcade/motion controls as they barely function and the motions they want you to do are gut wrenching as you watch your screen flip back and forth on the hinge trying to get them to respond the way they say they will when they won’t. I really tried my best to get these to work thinking it was me, but the little helper monkey that sells you tickets and tells you how to play with diagrams wasn’t steering me wrong, the developers did intend for them to work the way they’ve got it illustrated, they just barely function and will leave you cursing more often than succeeding at doing what they say. When I finally threw up my hands and almost tossed the 3DS across the room and swapped over to the Classic/stylus system I started having a lot more fun because the game actually was working.
You get so many tickets to play and can add more to the base number you get from the helpful monkey at the ticket counter who also tells you how to play each game and keeps track of the score. If you’re playing with multiple people the scores matter a little more. After you’ve exhausted your ticket supply and even when you’ve just finished one of the games it all gets tallied up and you’re put in placeholders for whoever one the first three places using your Mii. The games do play pretty well once I switched over to the Classic controls and your mileage with the different games will vary.
Visually you’re not getting a lot out of this. It feels very generic although it is colorful. Other than being able to kick it over to 3D, which works with varying degrees, the game doesn’t feel like a 3DS title especially after playing one of my other games I’ve got for it. The visuals do their job of conveying the games but there’s no real wow factor at all to this. Audibly it’s ok, but nothing really stands out with it. The sound effects do their job and that’s about it. There is some decent replayability built into the game with the option to either pass the 3DS hotseat style, play online or play locally with a friend. You also have the points set-up and trying to best scores already set in the games. Is it enough to keep you coming back to it? As a party game it’s ok, but it doesn’t feel like some of the other games we had party game wise that would keep us playing them over and over again.
For the price, I’ll admit this feels a little sparse despite the number of mini-games you’re getting with it. It feels a bit barebones even with the multiplayer options that are built in. Several of the min-games rely almost on luck and timing rather than any kind of skill or aiming value, and with the motion controls adding almost no value or ability to playing the games within I think there’s a few balance issues when you’re playing against other people, but not anything that’ll kill the overall enjoyment of the game. The game is also not terribly original considering all the mini-games you can play with this are all variations of, or complete recreations of real existing fair and carnival games. Yes the helper monkey is different but not really noteworthy enough to call it original. I’m actually reminded a lot of the Ape Escape monkeys when I look at him, now that I think about it.
So if it’s only doing about average on looks and sounds, is a bit below on balance, originality and replayability, how is it on addictiveness? Not great. Without anyone else to play with most of the games are a nice quick time killer, but it’s not going to hold your attention long. If you’re looking for a game to sink a bunch of time into this probably isn’t it, especially alone. Even playing with my wife and online I found it got a little slow and didn’t hold our attention nearly as long as some of the party games we have on the Wii and it wasn’t just because it was on the smaller screen of the 3DS. These are all games you’d play fairly briefly on the midway at a fair or carnival anyway and that’s part of the problem. Yes you can play these ad nauseum, but would you really want to? Well maybe Ball Roll because it is a decent representation of Skee Ball, but I wish the motion controls worked a little better. There is some appeal there. It’s a cheaper title for the 3DS and one you can play with a few friends and even if you only have one copy of the game between the four of you. When you use the standard controls over the motion controls the games are at least fun to play and if you really enjoy these types of fair games this is right up your alley.
Now I realize wanting to capitalize on the motion controls of the 3DS and offering that option, but the controls they have for this game motion wise are abysmal. The motions they have you doing could ultimately end up with a cracked or broken hinge on the 3DS and a lot of tears. If you are going to include them either better instructions or setting up motion controls that don’t involve thrusting the whole handheld away from you at a high speed or tossing it around like a Wii mote is not the way to do it. None of the motion controls felt even remotely natural and honestly I had to put the game down in frustration over it and give myself a countdown before I did break something. Thankfully it has the ‘classic’ controls to it otherwise the game would be pretty much unplayable.
Short Attention Span Summary
While Funfair Party Games does deliver a variety of mini-games of the Fair variety to play, your fun mileage will vary greatly. Using the motion controls to play is about right out as the way they want you to manhandle your 3DS will eventually break it. Thankfully the regular control scheme saves what could have been unplayable and ends up delivering a fun but very short play experience. Playing with friends will extend the enjoyment out a bit, but either playing hotseat or local the games and fun will burn through pretty quick. Even online won’t keep you in this forever, but quick jaunts with it will provide a welcome distraction. Overall it’s just a little under average and I think most people would be happier getting it at a slightly cheaper price should it ever go on sale on the eShop.