Arcade Challenge by eSoft
Reviewed December 2004 by Tony Peak
Probably every gamer out there has
at one time or another made the comment "I could win with one hand tied behind
my back." Well, here's your chance to prove it. eSoft
Interactive's Arcade Challenge is a collection of 10 games,
all requiring only a single button to play. Simple as it may
sound, at roughly $1 a game it's actually quite entertaining
Control in every game has been brought to a single button
press, or alternatively a screen tap. I was actually rather
confused the first time I played by the image of the joystick
in the corner, as I had expected some movement controls. The
games range from remakes of classics to somewhat original ideas,
but all are arcade style instant action. The main draw is simply
to get a new high score as the challenge gets harder and harder.
While things start easy, they quickly turn into maniac reaction
time testing affairs after a few minutes in.
Unfortunately, this means starting from scratch every time
and working your way through the rather duller opening stages,
just to get to the real action 20 or so levels in. I certainly
would have loved to seen a difficulty selection, or at least
the ability to start on a stage after you cleared it -- perhaps
checkpoints after every 5 or 10 stages. I'm sure it would have
added a lot of challenge to the title.
While it's true more games could have been included since
the controls are so simple, at least half of them are really
pretty good games on their own. Toy Factory is a block/gem
type game where you must sort toys before they pile up too
high, Captain Gravity is a clone sorta like SFCave and its
variants, The Fly has you trap a fly by closing in the outer
walls, and Aliens is much like the classics Invaders series
of games. My favorite though is Jump Bot, a rather simple game
of jumping straight up on moving platforms without missing.
The challenge mostly depends on the game. Some games like
Litter Bug are pretty easy regardless, while Captain Gravity
and Jump Bot are pretty good challenges rather quickly. Most
games start off painfully slow and take a good while to really
warm up, such as Alienz which doesn't really get tough until
the 20-25th stage. None the less, almost all the games are
fun and easy to play. The simplicity of it all can make a quick
5 minute session last much longer, and the game play of each
is quite solid.
The graphics are solid across the board, and the interface
is very clean and well presented. Although looking at a small
screen on an already small screen, the games thankfully don't
feel crowded or squished at all. A full screen mode would have
been nice, but the interface is fun with the pulsing speakers
and other nice touches. The soundtrack is high energy and very
good, though I do have to wonder how many loops one can take
before reaching for mute. Probably enough to get through most
play sessions, considering the game's arcade design.
The only thing I can really say is missing from this title
is a sense of progress. The high score list is nice and good
motivation, but there's unfortunately no online ranking. Without
any difficulty setting or checkpoint system, you'll be starting
from scratch every game. Some type of guided single player
tour through the games at increasing difficulty would have
certainly increased the value as well. Had the number of games
been higher and the amount of progress been more measurable,
this would be a truly excellent collection of simple games.
As it stands it's a great distraction in short bursts, simple
and to the point gaming without the hassle.