Exploring a new world is always fun, and Active Life: Magical Carnival
gets things right in this department. As you begin the game, only a few attractions are available. This means that the Free Play mode is pretty limited, but you can unlock new attractions by playing through the main story. There are up to four players supported at all times, making this a great party game. Active Life: Magical Carnival
has all the right elements to while away an hour or so, in what will feel like the blink of an eye. Eventually, you'll exhaust all the options and open all the attractions, but the replay value kicks in as you attempt to improve your scores. Looking for differences between this and earlier games in the franchise, we'd say the control feels tighter and more responsive as you use the Active Life
mat peripheral, and that the mini-games are better designed. An example you'll find early on is the simulated "Pirate's Life" attraction that puts you in the shoes of a junior sailor trying to learn his way around the ship. Within one mini-game you're tasked with climbing ropes, jumping barrels while navigating a wind-blown deck, and stomping the hands of skeletons as they attempt to board your ship. The blend of action in just one small segment of game extends out to most of the mini-challenges, making them more fun to replay with friends or alone for higher scores. As mentioned earlier, Free Play mode lets you skip the carnival tour and just dive into whatever individual challenges you've unlocked for play.
The essence of Active Life: Magical Carnival is its multiplayer features. There's some appeal to play through solo, but it's a bit like playing Twister alone... pretty sad image, right? The smartest idea ever for the Active Life games was using the mat peripheral in such a way that multiple players can compete simultaneously. Where you might stand in the center of the mat for a mini-game, you slide to the left or right when a second player joins. The ability to include more players gives this great party appeal, and amplifies replay since you can challenge new players as you master specific games. You can play with a Mii assigned from those already loaded in your system, or let Active Life: Magical Carnival choose one for you.