Come to think of it, carnivals and state fairs have long been the "original" mini-game venue. Step right up, try your luck, and all that. It didn't hit me until after the fact that Wonder World Amusement Park
is trying real hard to simulate the fun we've all had throwing bags at bottles or shooting targets in a shooting gallery. We all know that trying and accomplishing aren't the same thing, of course.
Consider the first few rounds of play, where players will make their decision on whether Wonder World Amusement Park is worth investing further time. You are launched into play with a handful of games to play, arrayed in front of you, plus a prize booth. The prizes cost a certain number of tokens that you'll earn (or lose) playing the various games. Each game has a cost to play, although some of the early games can be played at no charge. The control scheme is mostly the Wii-mote alone, but several games require the Nunchuk in combination. Each game is introduced by a rather rude hawker who pretty much puts you down, which is weird. The first games are very simple and derivative. A game where you attempt to catch frogs by positioning a hook above their open mouths, a game where you smash rodents with a hammer (that isn't Whack-A-Mole) as they pop out of holes, a shooting gallery, and a really annoying game where you try to slide a ring over a length of wire without touching the wire. Based on your success in these games, you'll hopefully earn tokens to use toward fabulous virtual prizes that aren't really functional in any way, or you can buy a ticket to visit the next area. You can't play any games in the next area until you satisfy certain conditions in the previous area, going back to the point about limiting players' freedom to explore.
Other areas of disappointment include a multiplayer mode that is often more turn-based, and doesn't create a fun, party atmosphere. The game is advertised as good for up to four players, but the bulk of the games available just don't hold up for a family gaming night. There is a character customization option that is as awkward as the general gameplay, allowing you to make someone that looks a bit like you, but never really like you. These are all pieces of gameplay that have been executed well in other titles, so it's hard to see "not-quite-there" as anything but a dismal failure. Not being able to make a mini-game quick and fun is mystifying at this point in gaming history.