Carnival Games for Nintendo Switch review: A festival of mini-games

Carnival Games released to the Nintendo Switch on November 6th, 2018. It was developed by Mass Media Games who were responsible for bringing you old classics like Pac-Man Fever and Pac-Man Collection.


  • Multiplayer options
  • Fun mini-games
  • Endless hours of gameplay
  • Tournament options
  • Character creation


  • Need a lot of tickets to unlock games
  • You don't earn many tickets for playing games
  • Avatars are kind of creepy
  • Motion controls need to be unlocked

Carnival Games is a great addition to your collection for the kids to enjoy. Everything is easy to get the hang of so it takes no time at all to learn all the different mechanics per mini-game.

There are 20 mini-games available for you to play. After you get all of them unlocked you'll have endless hours of fun. Most of the games take about 1 minute to complete so it's just long enough to keep your attention without getting boring. Up to 4 people can play together and you only need one of your Joy-Cons per person.

November 21, 2018: Carnival Games received an update today!

Today Carnival Games received an update for the ticket system. Now, instead of it taking 50-400 tickets to unlock games, it will only take 25 tickets! The reward system now feels less like a hostage situation and more like something you can play to have fun. Playing this game used to get boring very quickly, but now it's easier to unlock more games I'm willing to put more hours into it!

Keeping the ambiance of a carnival alive

There isn't much of a variety when it comes to a base character selection, but there is a fun character creation system for you to make your own. This isn't like the Miis where you'll be able to make one that looks just like you or your friends. Customizing options include things like skin tone, face shape, body shape, and more. Nothing too in-depth. After you're done you'll give the avatar a name and it will be added to the selection pool at the beginning of the game.

Breaking down the games

A screen that will give you all the information you need to know appears before every game. This will tell you things like how long the game lasts, how to play the game, how many players are involved, and what your other options for control settings are. That means some games will allow you to choose a different set of controls, but that's not available on every game.

Most of the games last about 60 seconds. They all emulate a fan-favorite carnival game that you grew up playing. There are a few games thrown in there that you'd never see at a carnival (like speed racing in a rocket ship), but they're all fun. You can throw rings onto bottles, toss balls into cups, shoot some hoops, and so much more. The variety is pretty great!

One of my complaints with the games is how bad the art style clashes with itself.

The worst case of this was in the rocket ship racing game. All of the colors were too similar, our ships were too small, and the obstacles were too obscure. I spent more time trying to figure out where I was on the screen than I did flying my ship. I still ended up in first place with enough points to earn an achievement, but it didn't feel earned. It was the equivalent of falling down a hill during a race and still making first place because I fell faster than others could run.

I didn't find it to be that big of a big problem because it only came up for only a few of the games, but it was still something I noticed. If another edition of Carnival Games comes out in the future I'd like to see more colors that counteract one another and a better design of the characters/pieces used during play.

Unlocking motion controls

Each mini-game required an achievement to unlock motion controls instead of just coming standard with the games. This was done by earning a specific score in each game. The scores weren't something that was incredibly hard to achieve (like earning 400 tickets to play a game), but it was just as annoying to do it in the first place.

Working with your game options

The game options are actually pretty great to work with. The Tournament option, regardless of which type you selected, will take you through a series of mini-games. Whoever has the best score by the last round wins. You still earn tickets throughout the entire process. Free play is your option for simple gaming. This is the way to go if you want to jump in and play a few quick rounds with your friends.

The game selection option makes it remarkably easy for you to set up for your kids. If you turn on "random" instead of "browse" it will select which mini-game they'll play instead of letting them choose. This helps avoid the arguments between your little ones of who wants to play what.

When it comes to the vibration option I'm not actually sure it makes much of a difference. I played through 12 of the different mini-games and never even noticed a single vibration during gameplay.

Bring the carnival home with you

After playing Carnival Games I can 100% confirm it was made with only kids in mind. That usually doesn't stop me from enjoying a game, but it was just a little too simple for me to enjoy. When my nephews played (who are between the ages of 10 and 14) none of the things I didn't like were even mentioned.

My overall verdict is this: If you're looking for a tournament-style game for adults to lose themselves in you should look into Super Mario Party. If you're looking for a game for your young kids to enjoy, Carnival Games is perfect for them.

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Essa Kidwell

Essa Kidwell is an expert in all things VR and mobile devices who can always be found with an Oculus Go, a Pixel 2, and an iPhone 7+. They've been taking things apart just to put them back together for quite some time. If you've got a troubleshooting issue with any of your tech, they're the one you want to go to! Find them on Twitter @OriginalSluggo or Instagram @CosmeticChronus.