Recently I read the review of Tornado by z36, and think I may have found a game to give Tornado a run for its title. Wonder World Amusement Park is far from a rollercoaster ride and leaves you with nothing but sticky shoes from a trash filled carnival and an upset stomach from too much cotton candy. But wait, that is not all. You can earn cool swag like a creepy clown painting that hung in John Wayne Gacy’s house, or maybe a pirate patch for your toon. As you can see from the introduction you can tell where this review is going. But it is not a total loss as there are some shiny aspects that may appeal to certain demographics.
Wonder World Amusement Park is listed as an action type of a game, but I felt it ranked more in the arcade genre. It is stylus driven and you interface by dragging the stylus to targets. Whether you are throwing darts at balloons, dunking a pirate, or throwing rings on swords, the game is easily exploited for tickets to open other areas of the game. There are some variations of this in the plethora of mini games provided. All the games do factor in weight and varying dynamics in throwing to give the player a feel that they have thrown an object with adequate force or not. Thus you adjust fire, but once you have made the target you spend the rest of the time repeating the process and cashing in on tickets. The repetitive process reinforced with a weak reward system had my hopes soon diminishing to bring home that extra large stuffed koala.
Thinking that this was just one of those games that did not strike my demographic, I let others give it a spin. From a five year old, a pre-teen to adulthood and on both sides of the gender fence this game could not hold an attention span longer than ten minutes. So I trudged on, like a good soldier, earning more tickets to open up all the areas of the amusement park. The park consists of six zones where the player starts in the most general and works his or her way into the themed areas. There is a pirate realm, a haunted realm, and space themed realm, a general carnival realm and an extra one that will not be named due to the spoiler clause. You play the games and earn tickets which open up new areas. In these areas you can earn prizes if you are so inclined to keep at it. The bonus being, you can play for as long as you want, and not lose a dime. The prizes you win range from objects to themed clothing to wear on the character you choose to journey through this magical carnival.
A note on the characters; from the initial menu you choose a character toon to represent you through a magical journey to this Wonder World Amusement Park. They present themselves as having unique attributes; there is one who likes to tinker, one who is a gamer, and another who is inquisitive, and so on. I found no advantage of one character over the other given his or her storyline. You just see them when you go to the reward screen to try on a new item of clothing, like the pirate patch, or place a new doll you won at your feet, within a still image. Pretty weak and I felt almost punished rather than being rewarded.
The sound is as you would expect circus themes and a calliope within the general area of the park. The themed areas play respective arcade style music, like a cheesy spooky theme of ghosts as you throw bats at graves in a graveyard. The sounds of the action did match what was taking place. The balloons sounded as if a balloon popped and roller balls sounded like they do when they are rolled down alleys. So they got a plus for the incorporation of sound with the appropriate action taking place.
The graphics and aiming system with this game felt sub-par and flawed. As I mentioned previously, you would send a volley to determine where you threw an object and adjust fire accordingly. This was often off target with the stylus on the screen, but once you tracked where they wanted you to go and began hitting the targets you were able to volley objects with ease and in turn the challenges of the game were soon mitigated.
Wonder World Amusement Park is rated E for everyone, published by Majesco and does have the capability for two players to play simultaneously. One hosting the other joining, but my question would be why? Ok, I am not playing nice I know. I did review the official website for the game. I thought the website was more interactive and fun than the DS version. The site also was geared to the Wii version of the game where they look as if no expense was spared. The DS version was but a footnote.
It is obvious in this situation in whose basket went all the eggs. The DS version of Wonder World Amusement Park was watered down and submerged into the murky depths to be forgotten in comparison to the Wii version. Even the website was more interactive and fun than the actual DS game. A bad decision on behalf of the developer in my opinion when you consider the market clearly favors the DS having sold over 10 million units last year in the US alone, also given the state of the economy. With those factors, the handhelds will prove a giant against the consoles in the months to come. I rate this game a 3.5 out of 10. There were a couple of fun mini-games but again considering overall ease of exploitation of the game and weak reward system, left me feeling robbed like when a carnie soaps the dishes at the coin toss.
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