5 Arcade Gems
WiiWare | Nordcurrent | 1 Player / 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 700 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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14th June 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
As the name of the game suggests, there are 5 different mini-games all with an alleged arcade feel to them. Whether or not you agree with that statement is another story. 5 Arcade Gems does offer the ability to play on your own against three CPU opponents, but this title is almost solely meant for multiplayer enjoyment amongst friends. In order to play, though, you'll need to ensure that each player has a Wii Remote and a Nunchuk ready. If there aren't enough human players, the remaining slots will be filled by computers. Your goal in each mini-game is to be the last man standing. In most games, this would ultimately mean a tense fight amongst competitiors to stay on top. Is this the same case here?
Going in a clockwise direction from the wheel on the Main Menu, 'Templar Bashing' is the first game you can select. Players are situated on platforms in a circular arena, equipped with 4 lives. In the middle of the tower is a spinning trap with an iron ball at the end of it, prepared to knock out whomever touches it. As it approaches you, you have one of two choices: shake the Nunchuk to jump, or swing the Wii Remote to knock it back in the direction it came. If you manifest poor timing in your jumps, your opponents can catch you off guard by hitting it back towards you, causing you to land on the mace. As I played this, it reminded me of the 'Mud Jumpers' mini-game from THQ's Barnyard. I found that to be kind of enjoyable but kept thinking, "Too bad this doesn't have multiplayer", and here it is. Especially when playing with a group of friends, Templar Bashing can be fun and it so happens to be the best one in the whole game.
Second is 'Whirling Rangers', the mini-game with the strongest arcade feel to it. Inspired by a specific sub-genre of space shooters, players fly through rings, facing off against waves of asteroids and alien ships with a limited amount of health. Using the analog stick on the Nunchuk, you can move clockwise and counter-clockwise, forward and backward as you try to dodge attacks from the enemy. You can also fire your own sets of shots back using the A Button on the Wii Remote. The game uses a simple presentation with an outer space background and a camera that can take some time to get used to. In particular, seeing enemies come toward you can catch you off guard by the way the game is configured. In any case, this one may be fun but I personally didn't think much of it at all.
'Lumberjack Trials' is the weirdest game in the whole set. A bearded fellow in the middle of the screen will throw targets into the air for you to throw axes at (with no protective gear at all, I might add). You take aim using your Wii Remote's pointer and shake the Nunchuk to throw. Hitting normal targets will earn you points depending on when they're destroyed, while targets with a skull on it will reduce your number of lives. Each round, you'll be asked to move further back, making it even harder for you to hit the objects. The controls work well but it's not terribly fun. In fact, beyond the peculiarity of playing it for the first time, it doesn't really hold up strongly to warrant continued plays for fun multiplayer sessions.
In 'Jungle Pizza Delivery', you've apparently upset the local tribesmen, and are on the run to avoid getting trampeled on, so you can fulfill your pizza order. They must be really angry with you, because the noises these crazy inhabitants make at the start of the game are quite annoying. The camera will take on a side-scrolling view, and along your route, you'll need to watch out for ill-mannered animals as well as traps that will impede your progress. To build up your speed, you shake the two controllers alternatingly without exerting too much force. Pressing the C Button the Nunchuk will get you to duck and pressing A will perform a jump. This mini-game is pretty straight-forward in its execution, and it can be moderately fun, maybe even slightly-comedic.
The final game in the collection is 'RC Buggy Madness', where you take control of tiny RC cars in an enclosed area. In this collect-a-thon, players use the Nunchuk's analog to control their vehicles, gathering batteries and bringing them back to their base to accumulate points. Holding the B Button will accelerate, and if you get stuck, you can hold Z to reverse. You can carry up to 5 batteries at once for maximum points, so you'll need to evaluate the situation to see if it's better to head in with just a few or a full inventory. What makes the game more enjoyable is the fact that you can ram into opponents to make them spin out. Pressing A will activate your boost, and if used properly, you can make them lose whatever items they had in their possession. Because of this feature, the tables can turn rather easily, requiring players to stay on their toes as they play. However, some may find this game feels a bit dull rather quickly.
I was surprised to see that the controls are accessible for the most part, despite requiring the secondary peripheral. More than half of the mini-games could've had controls mapped to the Wii Remote on its own, but this would've likely increased the risk of problematic controls. As such, although you might think otherwise, the use of the Nunchuk in all games is justified, even if it makes it a bit harder to get a multiplayer game going.
Looking at presentation, the graphics are decent; namely, they don't impress, but they're not dissatisfying either. Music isn't even worth discussing at all, as the audio is just really plain. The framerate is pretty consistent in all games with the exception of Jungle Pizza Delivery, where I did notice a slight drop. I also encountered a technical issue when playing RC Buggy Madness, but it seemed more like a rare instance than anything else. Games like this don't really need to have strong presentation values, and 5 Arcade Gems instead decides to focus more on simplicity than visual impressiveness.
Thinking back, I can honestly say that only a sample of these are worth playing again and that's not that great considering there's a small number of games to begin with. But at the same time, at least the games aren't terrible. Playing on your own gets boring very quickly, and you'll likely tire of it within 5 or 10 minutes. What's more, not being able to apply your name to high-scores on each game or compare them by means of a true leaderboard hurts this title even more. Multiplayer can be fun when you get a group together, but how much fun is it when compared with other WiiWare titles? Well the service could certainly use more multiplayer titles, so I do applaud the developers for giving something like this a try. However, a majority of the four-player games currently available offer much more enjoyment than this title, plain and simple.
When it comes down to it, this game is simply not representative of good value, especially when other games offer a stronger, worthwhile experience. Some of these can be fun for a very limited audience, and as such, parents may want to look into this for their kids if they've already given other games like Let's Catch a purchase. Even still, I can't really describe the mini-games as "gems", making the game something you won't feel guilty about skipping over. If the game looks appealing, simply ask yourself if you really want to pay $7 for a game where you may only truly enjoy one or two games, if any.
15/30 - Below Average
Gameplay 6/10 - Controls almost always make sense, some of these can be somewhat comedic on your first play, had potential but feels lacking in execution
Presentation 5/10 - Decent graphics, 'meh' audio, framerate is almost always consistent, nothing offensive or impressive either
Enjoyment 2/5 - Only one or two can be seen as worthwhile with friends, add an extra point if you're a child, playing on your own becomes boring
Extra Content 2/5 - Five games, limited high-scores, price is hard to justify because of the quality of the games and what other titles have packed in for less
Equivalent to a score of 50% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)