Despite its seemingly universal embrace, only certain people should expect to find fun at the fair. Sure, for those yet to experience puberty, it's a magical place full of exciting stimulation - loud music, flashing lights, sugary snacks and gut-wrenching rides - while those slightly older are happy to indulge in the illicit atmosphere as a location for sneaky fags, cans of superbrew and fumblings at the front of the rollercoaster.
Into your mid-twenties, the transformative powers of the funfair will probably have weakened significantly though. It becomes difficult to summon up much enthusiasm unless you're living vicariously through your kids, or, alternatively, you've taken a heavy dose of mind-altering substances. (We recommend you don't attempt both simultaneously.)
Sadly, neither strategy will much improve time spent in Carnival Funfair Games. For one thing, it's single player-only; something we thought Nintendo frowned upon in these caring, game-sharing days. Indeed, this lack is demonstrative of the wider collapse in standards both on DS and Wii, as Nintendo opens its gates to low-quality shovelwave. As for the benefits of playing this on drugs, at the thin end of the wedge, several rounds of vodka and Red Bull merely had us wide-eyed in disbelief at the overall paucity when it comes to collections of touchscreen-based mini-games. Of fun, we found none.
It isn't the case that Carnival Funfair Games is a terrible game though. It's just a very unloved one. Like one of those 'saviour babies' supposedly enabled by genetic engineering, it owes its existence to a Wii game of the same name, although in this case, we assume Carnival Funfair Games DS is more of a 'profit saviour' for the franchise; i.e. it won't have cost much more to make it, so any additional sales are pure profit. In this way, it's perhaps the perfect example of a tacked-on port.
And for that reason, most of the 20-odd mini-games are shared between the two consoles. There are a couple of DS exclusives that involve the use of (or not, as the case may be) the inbuilt DS microphone. Other than that, the MySims-style graphics, avatar customisation, item/collectibles progression and funfair hub - with its slightly creepy, overly booming master of ceremonies - are the same for both.
But the real kick in the teeth for anyone who happens to buy/play this game (even considering the budget price) is that around half of the mini-games could be worth spending some time with, if they weren't let down by the poor implementation of their touchscreen controls. In the interests of fairness, we caned some of them in the hope of squeezing out some enjoyment - as if from a stone. Our first choice was Frog Leap, where you had to ping either a frog, a duck or a cannon ball off a springboard towards the appropriate moving target - respectively a lilypad, duck's nest or pirate ship - as they moved across the screen in two streams. Such was the sensitivity of the pinging mechanism however that only the bottom set of targets could be consistently hit. Similarly flawed with inconsistently were Balloon Darts, Alley Ball and Buckets of Fun.
The other main gameplay option consisted of that old favourite - a simple task made harder by the cunning mechanic of speeding up the action - witness Wild West Showdown, Clown Bonk and Meter-O-Love.
In fact, the only two mini-games that offered any sort of worthwhile skill progression or satisfaction didn't use the touchscreen at all. The basic topdown racer themes of RC Raceway and Bumper Boats meant you could actually improve your score with a bit of practise but as they are the sort of games you can get for free on any Flash games portal, they're hardly worth the price of admission.
Equally, as success with the mini-games either rewarded you with tickets for playing more mini-games or items of clothing to add to your avatar, which because this is a single player game, you can't share or show to anyone else (apart from the imaginary friends who live in your head presumably), makes the whole Carnival Funfair Games experience a bit of a non sequitur. Which is why this is one fairground attraction best avoided.