My #1 Favorite Dream-Build-Play 2008 Winner: 'CarnyVale: Showtime'

Today we have exclusive hands-on impressions with Microsoft's 2008 Dream-Build-Play winners. Of the six winners, we've picked our three favorites…

You should be jealous that I've played "CarnyVale: Showtime." There is no reason the game isn't be on Xbox Live Arcade right now.

Thankfully, eventually it should.

Microsoft awarded "CarnyVale" the Dream-Build-Play 2008 grand prize. I agree with them. It's one of the most unique games I've played.

The problem is that it's a little hard to describe. Players manipulate Slinky the puppet with ragdoll physics through a circus, performing tricks by swinging around the environment. You have a little control over him with the analog stick. For bonuses, you collect balloons and stars. Cooler tricks -- i.e. a triple flip -- help towards a better rating the "crowd" provides at the end of the level.

It's reminiscent of the casino stages from the "Sonic the Hedgehog" games, actually. "CarnyVale" encourages players to explore the environment for hidden secrets, but a limited number of lives keeping them motivated towards the end goal: being thrown through a flaming hoop. Because you're assuredly going to miss something on the first pass, like me, you'll want to retry immediately.

"CarnyVale" has everything you'd expect from a fully featured game. There are game-specific achievements for competitive players and a working map editor. And that goes without mentioning the slick interface and impressive art.

This gem comes from Team Gambit in Singapore. They received $40,000 for making "CarnyVale" and have a shot at being an XBLA Game. They deserve it.