Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Game Review: Go Play Circus Star

Go Play: Circus Star
  • Publisher: Majesco
  • Developer: N-Fusion
  • Release Date: 9 June 2009
  • System: Wii
  • Genre: Minigames
  • Players 1-4
  • Rarity/Cost: Common, US$5-20

There's a certain theme I've found to be surprisingly under-represented in video games: the circus.  The last one I can think of is Circus Charlie, made by Konami back in 1984, and even that was basically a glorified Donkey Kong.  Welp, I've found another one, but to get to it, we'll have to wade into the world of Wii shovelware.  (DUN DUN DUU~UN)  I'm talking about a world that kept Wii Play on the top of the sales charts for years, so yeah, this is gonna suck.  Enter Go Play: Circus Star, which comes from the Majesco-published, budget oriented Go Play line of titles.  Proving their priorities are kind of... differenty, the last entry in this series is about being a lumberjack.  ...A lumberjackAnd not the kind that puts on womens' clothing and hangs around in bars, either.  But they switched out the developer this time around, so let's have at it!

There are five events that play just like this one.
The structure of this game is vaguely styled after Rock Band, in that you earn fans and money from good performances, with your ultimate goal being to collect 5,000 fans.  Along the way you will be able to buy access to new acts and venues, and by doing so the potential rewards you can earn will increase exponentially.  The problem is, the act of doing so is where the trouble starts.  Of the 15 events (6 are available from the start) you can play, quite a few recycle mechanics from some of the other games.  For example, there are five events (Tightrope, Unicycle, Elephant Ride, Rola Bola, and Trapeze) that involve balancing the Wii Remote left/right or forward/back to hit targets without going too far.  On the other hand, almost all of the events give you the option of using the Wii Balance Board.  I do appreciate how well-integrated the Balance Board is in this game, even if I was unable to test it.  After all, I've got enough expensive controllers lying around the house as it is - and I think that half-broken Guitar Hero drum kit would agree with me.
The special stunts you can perform do nothing to add immersion.
Consistent good performance will fill up a meter; once it's filled up at least one time (out of three), you can press A to perform a special stunt that earns you more fans.  While these can be used strategically to interrupt the action at critical moments, you have no control over the specific maneuver being performed.  Not helping matters is that these cutscenes are rather poorly animated; combine that with the N64-quality character models and you've got a very low-rent experience.  You have the choice of six characters which you can't change after starting a profile, nor customise, and their voice acting is as dorky as... pretty much everything else in the game.  And then there's the ringmaster... like, gag me with a spoon!  He sounds like Dr. Eggman and sports the worst beard I have ever seen in a video game.  (Come to think of it, the real Dr. Eggman would be a better choice.)  Fortunately, you can turn him off, thanks to the ONLY option on the options menu!

Despite my disdain for this type of game, I'll admit I could really get into if it was, you know, better.  Specifically, I would've included a greater variety of events, drawing inspiration from circus styles around the globe.  Individual tricks could be done at any time through Ton Hawk-style button inputs.  I'd tighten up the graphics, obviously, and set up a character and outfit customisation system.  Going hand-in-hand with that would be a re-structured career mode where you could build up your character's stats through training games in-between shows.  And if I really wanted to push the envelope, I'd add some sort of manager mode where you could set up your own shows, customising the acts and themes.  Also it would be a tie-in with the Kaleido Star anime, so yeah, I'm kind of a wishful thinker.  But better to have a big imagination that doesn't go anywhere than be stuck with a game that won't even hold your attention for the span of one rental, amirite?

Control: 3 stars out of 5
Design: 1 stars out of 5
Audiovisual: 1 star out of 5
Value: 1 star out of 5
The Call: 40% (F)

Next Episode: On the topic of Kaleido Star, you can expect a review on that in the near future.  But for now, I've got to get back to Bond.  Reviews of Thunderball and You Only Live Twice are up next.

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