Carnival (Colecovision) Review

Carnival is perfect for those times when you feel like playing Space Invaders, but can’t handle the extreme stress of being solely responsibile for the safety of the Earth. Compared to fending off thousands of aliens, plinking cans with a low-powered bb-gun at a carnival is no sweat. Yeah sure, carnivals can be scary places, with grizzled carnies barking at you, dangerously unmaintained rides and tattooed packs of stabby Mexicans giving you hard looks, but this is an introduction, not a dissertation. And unlike a real carnival shooting game, the gun you’ll be using in this game doesn’t shoot at a 45° angle.

For a game which consists entirely of moving along the x-axis while shooting slowly scrolling targets (which don’t shoot back), Carnival is surprisingly complex. Nothing that would blow your mind, but there’s quite a variety of ways to wrack up a mega score. Most of the game’s strategy (and challenge) is derived from careful management of limited ammo. While you’ll initially just jam away at the fire button in an effort to assassinate as many of the ducks and bunnies and whatnots as quickly as possible, you soon discover that that’s the quickest route to the game over screen, which comes as quite a shock since those words are usually displayed over smoldering ashes rather than an empty peashooter.

The only direct conflict you’ll be faced with is from the afore-mentioned ducks. If given a chance to build up their courage, these foul brutes will magically come to life and begin wildly flapping their wings, to give you a sporting chance. If you, preferring video games over sports, refuse to perform the grim task of assassinating them, these unfeeling birds will devour a number of your bullets. Other than these avian menaces, you can plink away at a pretty leisurely pace. Though haste is necessary for a number of the scoring opportunities, and manic play certainly has it’s rewards, carefully aiming all your shots is an equally viable option, since you’ll tend to live longer.

Once you’ve shot down everything on the screen (including all the arms on the difficult to hit “wheel”) you’re treated to a very fun minigame, after which the process begins again, without a very drastic increase in intensity. Carnival is a fun little game that, while having the appearance of a rather lame Space Invaders clone, is actually a much deeper (though decidedly less exciting and mesmerizing) experience. It’s surprisingly unique, with a number of cool ideas that hadn’t been seen before nor have they been seen since. It’s not exactly relaxing, and the higher difficulty settings can be shockingly beastly, but the metallic *pink* when you hit your targets is highly satisfying, and the game is a terrific alternative for those times when you don’t want to have to worry about getting shot at. In that respect it’s one of the most pure shoot-em-ups around, and it’s surprising that we haven’t seen more shmups where you can concentrate solely on scoring big without having to split your attention between aiming and dodging.

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~ by Krooze L-Roy on December 31, 2008.

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