Parents' Guide to

Arcade Islands: Volume 1

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Simple mini-game collection quickly becomes dull to play.

Game PlayStation 4 , Xbox One 2018
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This collection of mini-games is very accessible, but the engagement and entertainment wears off quickly. Arcade Islands: Volume 1 is easy to get into and most of its games are intuitively designed, but it feels more like a collection of simplified mobile games than a living room party game. Part of the problem is that only some of its games are made for multiplayer, which will disappoint anyone hoping for a true party game experience. A bigger issue is that many -- perhaps even most -- of the activities are blatant rip-offs of other games. Whether you're tapping a button to stay aloft, whacking a ball in a 2D golf simulation, or blasting marbles at a snaking line of orbs, chances are you'll experience some serious déjà vu. But the greatest hitch keeping it from offering at least an adequate mini-game anthology experience is that there's no connective tissue between islands or games and no tournament mode to take solo players or groups on a journey that lasts longer than just one game. Without some sort of overarching structure, it simply feels like an uninspired collection of cloned games.

All of this said, a handful of games do manage to stand out as being at least challenging, if not entirely original. One involves simultaneously controlling two groups of running birds – one moving left to right, the other moving right to left – that must leap over obstacles. It requires a Zen-like multitasking mental state achieved only through practice. Another game forces players to shoot an energy blast that matches the shade of oncoming enemies to defeat them. With six colors to choose from -- three of which require tapping a shoulder button to subtly shift the shade of the other three colors -- success is no easy feat. But these activities aren't the norm, and without any grander mode to tie them together, it's hard to come up with a good reason to invest in this bargain bin collection of copycat mini-games.

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