This game is full of potential but marred by questionable design decisions.
Go Play is a new series of games envisioned by Majesco Entertainment that hopes to achieve the success of games such as Carnival Games and the Mario Party series by presenting easy-to-learn gameplay and themes of wide universal appeal. The first two games under the Go Play banner are Go Play Lumberjacks and Go Play Circus Star. Both games tout Balance Board support as well as fun and gentle intuitive gameplay. Unfortunately, one of thoese games, Go Play Circus Star, is dampened by some poor design choices.
When the game loads for the first time the player is greeted by the cheery rhyme-spouting ringmaster who prompts players to create a profile and select a character. The goal of Go Play Circus Star is to perform well at each circus-related event in order to gain money and fans. If you fail at the events, you lose a significant amount of both. This is important because you unlock the rest of the venues and mini-games by earning enough fans and money.
This is where the game's biggest issue comes into play. This unlocking method forces the player to repeat the same set of mini-games until he or she earns enough money and fans to get more. It forces replay and is a cheap way of extending gameplay. Also, even if you manage to unlock a venue, you only get three new mini-games, with the rest merely being harder variations of earlier ones. Worse, in order to play all of the mini-games in multiplayer, you need to unlock all of the games in the single-player mode. All of this creates a game that is not as accessible as it is expected to be.
Luckily, the mini-games themselves are solid and fun despite being redundant at times. All of them are based on popular circus events like the tight-rope walk, elephant-riding, and unicycle-riding. Before each game you are given the option of playing with the Wii Remote or the Balance Board. The Balance Board controls are solid, but every time you play a game using the Balance Board, you need to turn it on, wait until the game registers it, and then you step on it. This is a process that repeats itself over and over, even when replaying a game, and hampers the immersive experience the Balance Board offers. The Wii Remote simulates the Balance Board and offers the quickest control setup.
While the mini-games themselves are fun, they tend to repeat the same concept: maintain balance or move left and right while sometimes avoiding obstacles or thrown objects. There are a few exceptions to the rule, though. For example, one game has you throwing knives and hitting balloons while avoiding a dummy in the center of a spinning wheel. Another mini-game has you aligning your canon so that the character passes through the rings and landsing on athe safety mat. Many of these games give you an on-screen indicator that tells you how your balance is shifting so you know how to properly master the event.
Go Play Circus Star also suffers from other issues that prevent it from being something special. The game has some glitches, such as when the screen goes black with just the on-screen commands and icons visible. The loading times are also frequent, even during simple transitional moments. Finally, the visual style is slightly off-putting due to some drab colors, weird character models, and the lack of true widescreen support.
Go Play Circus Star does an admirable job of preserving the fun and excitement of the circus through fun mini-games, and solid Wii Remote and Balance Board controls. However, everything is ruined by the poor decision to force the player to earn the mini-games through forced replay, and an off-putting art style and glitches. This is one circus you’ll be glad to see leave town.