Atari 2600

Review by Rob "Dire 51"



Graphics: 8

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8

This review is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Leona E. Strangman (1937-1995). Carnival was her favorite VCS game of all time, and that's why I've chosen to review it.

The ol' shooting gallery. A staple of many carnivals, the object of the game was to shoot targets and win prizes. Sega created a version of the shooting gallery for arcades in 1980, entitled Carnival, that was fairly successful, and Coleco released a port of the game in 1982 for the Atari VCS. Of course, both versions lacked the prizes offered by real carnivals, but that didn't make for any less of an entertaining game.

Light gun technology was in its infancy at the time, so there was no gun you could pick up and aim at the screen. Instead, you control a small pistol at the bottom of the screen. Floating in three rows above you are several target animals, reminiscent of those from the actual shooting gallery games. There are owls, rabbits, ducks, and small white boxes with the number 8 on them. Above those is a rotating wheel of pipes that resembled a Ferris wheel. To the left of the pipes is a blank area... but more on this later. On the bottom of the screen, below your pistol, is a long blue bar. This represents your ammo. You start with 40 bullets, and these can be replenished - or eaten. Yes, eaten, but again, more in this later.

Your objective is to shoot the pipes until they disappear, then wipe out all the targets before new ones start coming out. If you succeed, you'll progress to the next stage, where things start moving faster. As you progress through the stages, the ammo bar changes color. Besides that fact that things are moving faster, this is the only indication of how far you're getting.

The blank area on the left side of the pipes occasionally lights up with one of four targets. The first is the number 500 with a plus sign next to it. The number decreases until it reaches 100, then it disappears. When you shoot the target, you get the amount displayed added to your points. Shoot the 500, for example, and you get 500 points. The next is identical, except instead a plus sign, there's a minus sign. You shoot this, and you lose points. The other two targets do exactly the same thing, except with bullets. Each dash represents a bullet that will either be added or removed from your ammo supply.

The ducks that float on the lowest row are extremely dangerous. Every so often, one of them will suddenly sprout wings and fly down towards you. If you fail to shoot it before it reaches you, you'll see a little duck head eating ten of your bullets! Luckily only one duck at a time can fly down toward you, unlike in the original arcade game, where you could have two (or possibly more) descending on you at once.

Coleco managed to recreate the original arcade game pretty faithfully, otherwise. The graphics look near identical to the arcade game, and the sounds, while not quite the same, are adequately recreated. Both games control exactly the same - pressing left or right on the stick moves your gun left and right (you can't move up and down, so don't try), and pressing the button fires the gun. The difficulty switches have no effect on the game. One thing from the arcade that Coleco was not able to include was the part where you try to shoot a target on the side of the bear, but if you've never played the arcade game you won't miss it. Unfortunately the "carnival" music that characterized the arcade game is also absent. On the down side, the pipes can be difficult to target sometimes, but that's the only real negative I can give the game.

Out of the many VCS games that have come and gone over the years, Carnival still manages to be fairly entertaining. If you liked the arcade game, or just want a good game to test your reflexes and skill, then pick this one up.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:09 AM