Shenanigans I expected. Shenanigans I did not receive.
PUBLISHER: Hi-Tech Expressions
DEVELOPER: Mind’s Eye
GENRE: Early Childhood
RELEASE DATE: November 1990
“So you see I’ve got a funny face/I’ve got no worries.” This is a line from Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel the Noize” (spelling very much theirs), but I think it pretty much sums up the mantra of the Muppets. They’re such feel-good, bizarre creatures that any party they throw is a happening shindig (yes, even “Muppet Treasure Island”). Chaos at the Carnival doesn’t feel like what a Muppet game should feel like: a series of hilarious mishaps that result in lessons learned and a party earned. No, it’s a “kids game,” which is an insult to the Muppets. The Muppets strive to bring everyone together, not just children. But more than that, this game is less a game intended for younger children than a masochistic exercise in tedium. How long can you stomach playing Chaos at the Carnival?
There are four events and I almost tapped out at the second, Animal’s “Crash Car Course.” In that particular love affair, you clumsily navigate a bumper car through roadblocks, like large rubberbands, bombs, and oil slicks. The positions of the roadblocks repeat all the time, resulting in significant boredom, but the controls are even worse. Animal’s bumper car moves at the drop of a hat and it’s incredibly easy for him to get turned in the opposite direction. Should you press on and beat the level, get ready for Grover’s “Lost in Space Ride.” Grover is in charge of a spaceship, but instead of the ship calmly gliding through space on its own (like every other shooter ever made), you have to control the ship by pressing ‘A’ ever so softly to thrust the ship in the right direction. Left and right on the D-pad steers you, and ‘B’ fires your weapon, and the ‘Power’ button on your NES console is used to turn the game off. I do not recommend playing this section for more than five minutes unless you absolutely need higher blood pressure. The other two courses – Kermit’s “Raging River Ride” and Fozzy’s “The Amazing Ice Cream Maze” – are bland, but tolerable. After you beat all four courses, you proceed to the boss, the ever-eternal Grumpasaurus. Thanks to Grover’s unpredictability and willingness to die, I never saw this legendary creature.
I don’t consider this a Muppets game and, I’d be willing to bet, neither would Jim Henson, God rest his soul. Chaos at the Carnival is a game with Muppets in it, soulless Muppets who have black holes for eyes, move without the help of human hands, and can’t make amusing quips because, let’s face it, they’re not real. Do the presence of these Muppet automatons make this the most evil game of all time?