A horror-themed light gun game from Midway Games, CarnEvil is about... well, an evil carnival, which is set somewhere in Iowa (if you can believe the opening cutscene). The game starts off with a hayride/ghost tour making its way through a cemetery at night. One of the patrons, called Jacob in the manual, hops off the ride and locates the grave of Professor Ludwig Von Tökkentäkker, which seems normal enough... save for the evil-looking jester statue on it and a token sticking out of a slot on the tombstone. Curious, Jacob takes the token and puts it in the jester's mouth, where it promptly comes alive and nearly chomps his hand off. Next thing Jacob knows, a carnival indeed comes out of the ground and traps him and presumably his tour inside of it with all manner of nasty and bizarre monsters. Luckily, he stumbles across the shooting gallery, which has real shotguns; Jacob and his friend Lisa grab them, and with their hapless friend Betty tagging along, prepare to blast their way out... or die trying.Released in 1998, CarnEvil is considered one of Midway's best arcade games note though still unreleased on a home console, giving House of the Dead some competition (both games came out the same year). But what people remember the most about the game is its rather surreal and dark humor, as well as its highly disturbing premise. Definitely not one for the kiddies.
Day Old Legend: The Trope seems backwards. Despite the fact that Jacob is drawn to the grave by an old legend about an evil carnival, a lot of it seems to have been based on very modern carnivals, including things like a tilt-o-whirl and a Food Court.
Dem Bones: Skeletons appear, of course. The ones working in the Rickety Town food court even bleed.
Distressed Damsel: Betty, Jacob and Lisa's friend, who you have to avoid shooting. Most of the time, the monsters are chasing her, and a few scenes suggest they caught her for the moment (showing her in a cage or in stocks), and a few bizarre scenes show her in the next car on the same carnival ride you're on, barely scared at all.
Excuse Plot: Well, a teenager is curious about this old story so he goes to the cemetery - dragging his girlfriend along - and then conjures this place up because he's curious. That's the whole excuse for him to beat the hell out of zombies. (In fact, bringing his girlfriend is just an excuse for her to appear from time to time for something to avoid hitting.)
Exposition Fairy: Umlaut at the start of every stage, giving the player a cute little poem about what they're in for. He's also the second-to-last boss.
Fake Difficulty: On occasion, enemies can hurt you even if they aren't onscreen, making it look like you're taking damage from nowhere.
Pixel Hunt: When you encounter a swarm of bats in the Haunted House stage, only one will actually attack you, but figuring out which one is nearly impossible. The same applies to Junior/Deaddy's barf attack.
Say My Name: All of the bosses, except Hambone and Junior, are announced to the player. Of these, Eyeclops and Evil Marie introduce themselves when they appear, Tökkentäkker appears on a giant video screen when you reach the center ring of the Big Top, and Umlaut gets called out to the fight (Tökkentäkker: "Umlaut! Get him!")
Shoot the Bullet: A lot of enemies throw projectiles at you, especially in the Rickety Town stage. You can use your own weapon to deflect them.
Shout-Out: The Museum of the Slightly Curious from the Freak Show level features a caveman from Trog! encased in a block of ice. You can see it in this video at about 1:54.
Soundtrack Dissonance: A happy, wonderful Christmas jingle is played during the Slay Ride portions of Rickety Town.
Stepford Smiler: The Smilin' Bob and Flap-Jack enemies never stop smiling, even if they've barely got a face left to smile with.
Too Dumb to Live: Jacob, who not only decides to tempt fate by bringing the carnival up in the first place, but decides to do it again after you win.
Betty, for running around in your crossfire while not even trying to help you fight the monsters. Even worse, she sometimes gets very close to a Power-Up that you only have a few seconds to aim for. That said, even she knows Jacob's the bigger idiot for putting both of them through that mess, and has the common sense to try to tell him NOT to do itAGAIN.
There are some scenes that suggest she's trying to help. For example, there's a torture chamber in the Freak Show where she slams the door of an iron maiden, trapping a zombie inside. Unfortunately, that only means she's really in your way when you try to shoot at three other zombies.