The Game: Step right up, put your quarter on the table (well, okay, technically in the slot), and take your best shot. There are plenty of targets to hit, but no big plush bears to win. If you don’t take out the ducks before they reach the bottom row, they don’t cycle back to the top like the other targets – they start flying and can take serious amounts of ammo off your hands and end the game early! (1980, Sega)
Memories: In the wake of virtual shooting gallery games like Space Invaders, Carnival arrived on the scene to make the shooting gallery metaphor more literal. Well, more or less – killer ammo-grabbing ducks aren’t exactly standard issue at the state fair. (But seeing how much finesse they add to Carnival, they should be!)
But the unique novelty of Carnival is ultimately what kept the game from making too much of a splash. Why shoot at ducks, even killer ammo-stealing ducks, when you could be shooting at space creatures? Still, Carnival got enough attention that it was translated into home cartridge form by Coleco, who turned out an excellent version for the ColecoVision (and somewhat scaled-down versions for the Intellivision and Atari 2600), and it was eventually followed up by Razzle Dazzle, which is essentially the same game, with a late-80s-style graphics and sound set.
Not a total miss by any means, but somehow it didn’t score a bullseye with the coin-op consumer.