Many things in life are cheap. A banana, for example, is around 30p and is considered to be a tasty and healthy snack. A Matchbox toy car is 99p and will keep a child entertained for hours. A high quality magazine publication can be found for around £4 and will keep an adult male quiet for at least half a day. All of these things are cheap and so is 5-in-1 Arcade Hits, for PS3/PSP, at only £2.49. At such a low price it is a mere drop in the ocean of video games and yes, technically, it is 5 games in 1. But, sadly, it is not as entertaining as a magazine or as tasty as a selection of fruit.
So what are these five games? Well, first up there is that age old classic, pool. You can play this on your own or with a friend through local turn based 2 player. Sadly, while it is nice to just pop on your PSP and play a little pool, there is no AI opponent to play against. So it becomes a game of potting all the balls on the table as quickly as possible with only your own top score to beat. Alongside this, the game only offers d-pad aiming, failing to utilise the analogue nub or a DualShock 3’s analogue sticks, meaning it can be tricky to line up the perfect shot. Another issue is that the speed and physics of the balls on the table seem a little out of kilter. A relatively slow cue ball can often result in the other balls bouncing around the entire table. Sometimes it can be more effective to just hit at full power and hope than actually take aim and thus taking away any skill from the game. Having said that, pool is a known quantity and is an enjoyable past time, this just isn’t a very good representation of it.
One thing that 5-in-1 Arcade Hits does feature is leaderboards and Facebook integration. Being a minis title, full online features are not expected, however how 5in1 Arcade Hits gets around this is quite neat. It saves your high scores for each game. Then, you can input a code form the game in to Grip Games (www.grip-games.com) website. From there, you can see which medals (the in-game trophies for reaching certain scores) you have achieved and compare with other peoples scores. Then, you can link this to their Facebook page and your account to see the scores of your Facebook friends who have played the game too. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a single friend who also owns the game, but it is a nice feature that works well. Another positive is the music used within 5-in-1 Arcade Hits. Whoever composed the music has created extremely addictive tunes that nest in your brain all day. The only problem is, only one song plays per each of the 5 games, so after a while the sound grates and the mute button if often used.
So how about a spot of Tetriod? Sounds very similar to some game called Tetris to me. But in actually fact is block breaking. Just like Shatter, or a million variations for free on mobile phones and iPods. So, the rectangular blocks are encroaching further to the left of the screen, while you move your cursor vertically up and down the screen to bounce the shiny ball in to the blocks and breaking them. The game ends when the blocks reach the far left. We’ve all seen and played it before. In this particular version of the game, if you miss the ball, you don’t lose any lives, another one simply respawns. So, in the case of Tetriod, on occasion it might actually be better to deliberately miss the ball, move the cursor to the right position and then hit x to launch it again on a specific block that needs breaking. The blocks do encroach rather quickly and it is surprisingly challenging so there is fun to be had, but that fun wears off very quickly indeed.
Next up is Solitaire. Yes, as in that game you already have for free on Windows and got bored of 10 years ago. Not much can be said about this really. You probably already know if you are a fan of the game or not and it works in much the same way as any other Solitaire simulation. Only this time you don’t have a mouse to play it with, which makes each turn just that little bit longer to take. Having said that, the controls are easy to use. If you have never played it before though, there is no manual, instructions, guide or a tutorial level (this goes for all 5 of the games).
15 Puzzle is also a variation something you will have encountered before. Put simply, it is exactly like one of those picture puzzles where the image is broken up into several blocks. You then have to manoeuvre the blocks around until the image looks correct. Only this is with numbers and not a picture of a car or a flower. You have to place the numbers in order from 1 through 15 and that’s it. It’s never really enjoyable and you will almost certainly play it once and never go back. The weakest of the five on offer here.
Pairs is also one of the games included. There are 32 overturned cards. On each card is a picture. There is two of each picture and you have to find all the pairs. This took me back to my days of a 5 year old, but despite the nostalgia, was this ever really considered an arcade hit? The other games maybe, but playing a game of pairs was only ever interesting for 10 minutes when I was young never mind in 2010. Sure enough, the game works, but it is certainly not enjoyable, challenging nor original. Really, the inclusion of Pairs in 5-in-1 Arcade Hits highlights the issues with this title as a whole. There are just so many more original, more inventive, more playable and crucially more enjoyable minis titles out there already for a very similar price.
- Neat Facebook score chasing.
- All the games will be a known quantity.
- Can be enjoyable…..
- ……But that enjoyment is short-lived.
- 5 average interpretations of games you have already played years ago.
What you have here is a compendium of 5 games that you have already played at some point in your life and even the first time round weren’t exactly enthralled by. It sounds mean to knock 5-in-1 Arcade Hits because after all it is a minis title and not a full blown PSN or UMD release, but minis titles shouldn’t be excused of dull gameplay and zero imagination. Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess, Age of Zombies and Fieldrunners show what is possible. Unfortunately, 5-in-1 Arcade Hits is not up there with the best minis have to offer and instead will languish at the bottom of my minis playlist.