The summer is well and truly over, but you could still take a digital vacation to the exotic lands of Arcade Islands; a place where you can find a whopping collection of 33 family-friendly games to venture into. What we really want to know is, does Arcade Islands: Volume One have a shed load of addictive and enjoyable offerings within it, or have developers Teyon gone for quantity over quality?
Those of us jet setting off to the fun-filled Arcade Islands will come across six different themed islands in the form of Vikings, Tropic, Mechanic, Atlantis, Cosmic, and Magic. Naturally, the games on each island are suited to the themes, with more water-based antics in Atlantis, outer space escapades in Cosmic, and lots of angry looking Viking folk involved on their specific island. There are only a couple of concepts that are a bit of a stretch to comprehend how they fit in to the chosen theme and feel a tad shoehorned in, but it really doesn’t matter too much.
The more pressing matter pertains to the collection of games included and whether they’re up to scratch. Not all of the 33 will be available at the start though, with stars needing to be earned – up to three per game – in order to unlock the next island of activities. You’ll need to possess a real variety of skills to achieve the necessary star totals to advance as it’ll have you guiding a platforming fox to the highest of heights, before participating in a testing air hockey battle, whilst another will be a sequence inputting foray.
Whatever the concept for each game, there’s a description that explains what to expect and how to play it, with controls outlined for you. Only one or two of the games require a dummy run of sorts to truly grasp what’s occurring, so you can be safe in the knowledge that Arcade Islands is accessible to a wide spectrum of gamers. Some of them are a lot easier to master than others and there’s plenty of variety in the type of skill required for each one.
There’s not much point in me going through all 33, as that’ll take forever, but there are a few standouts that are very addictive, some that seem a bit too familiar and a couple that just suck the fun out of life in general. Hopper Jump is a personal favourite, which sees a grasshopper leap from stone to stone to get as far as you can within the time limit. The catch is that there are gaps to traverse and you need to decide whether a one or two stone jump must be performed to avoid taking an early bath. It’s a simplistic idea that just hooks you in for an extra go to get a little further.
Other cool games include Laboratory Work, a twin-stick shooter styled affair that has you battling hostile bacteria; Rooster Romp, an egg collecting activity where you need to bounce eggs into nests; Hex Eggs, which has you creating full lines of blocks on a hexagon board in a manner similar to that of Tetris; and Underwater Escape, tasking you with fending off sharks by firing the correctly coloured beam their way.
As for the familiar ideas, and Super Vegan Anaconda is basically a slightly modernised version of the snake game we all used to play on our Nokia phones many years ago. There’s also the old ‘which cup is it under?’ type game, a test of memory as you flip tiles to match symbols, a space shooter called Meteors (yes, it’s similar to Asteroids), and a simplified version of the match-3 gameplay seen in Sparkle Unleashed. Just because they aren’t fresh though, doesn’t mean a little bit of fun can’t be had.
Unfortunately, there are some absolute stinkers that you’ll want to get a star from and move on as soon as possible. The one that really bored me to tears is Block the Bug, mainly because you’re just taking turns to place stones on a board to stop a bug from escaping, and I couldn’t figure out the draw of it. Then there’s the crazy golf offering, which is decent enough but let down by the mechanics and unpredictable power behind each shot. As most of the games appear to be randomly generated each time, a few of them – especially Deep Cosmic Trip – were set up for you to have a much tougher run on occasion too.
On the whole, Arcade Islands plays smoothly and the controls are easy to pick up, which is ideal given that up to four players get can involved in the action locally. Not all the games allow this, but a large majority have the capability to either compete against friends and family or work alongside them. Should you prefer to go it alone, that’s perfectly fine and you can work towards rising through the rankings of the online leaderboards.
In terms of design, the games are full of colour and there are plenty of Island specific design choices that really fit the theme that’s being portrayed. The visuals won’t impress too much, but just like the audio, the job is done well enough to complement the gameplay. Although saying that, the music can be off-putting and annoying when you’re on the 15th attempt at trying to garner a three-star rating.
Arcade Islands: Volume One doesn’t short change us in regards the amount of games on offer, but I must stress that you won’t be wowed by any of them and a lot of the concepts have been delivered in a more exciting form elsewhere. There’s certainly some fun to be had though and having plenty of choice ensures you can jump in for a game here and there, especially if you’ve got a few guests visiting. You may find that some of the games are primed for one go and then you’ve had your fill, but there will be a few of them that entice you back in to improve your scores and prove your worth as the best of the best.
If you pick up Arcade Islands: Volume One, chances are you’ll find a bit of fun in the exotic island sun.