In some ways it feels like Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room was designed just for me. As a creepy-looking thirtysomething year old dude, it's not easy for me to have fun at my local Chuck E. Cheese's location. No matter what I wear or how much I grin, I'm going to look like a pervert. Now I finally have an opportunity to play Chuck's greatest hits on my Nintendo DS without having the police called on me. And best of all, I don't have to eat the pizza!
If this brand new DSiWare game is any indication, then I haven't been missing much by avoiding the Chuck E. Cheese's. For a mere five dollars you're given a total of five mediocre mini-games. Don't look for the germ-infected ball pit here, because this Arcade Room is about getting high scores and collecting tickets.
Up first we have Smash A Munch, Chuck's very own spin on Whac-A-Mole. Here you use the stylus to hammer down any Mr. Munch heads that pop up. There's little strategy involved here, it's just a sight test where players are forced to compete with the increasing speed and difficulty. Hammer enough Munches in a row and you'll earn extra points, miss too many times and you won't earn very many tickets.
Speaking of Mr. Munch, did you know that he also has a shooting gallery? Mr. Munch Target Practice has you throwing darts at moving targets. There are three levels of items speeding by, each full of dollar amounts and obstacles to avoid. You only have a few seconds to collect as many points, so look for the high dollar amounts and avoid Munch's ugly mug.
Up next is Basketball, which is, well, basketball. Apparently Mr. Munch couldn't come up with a clever name for this arcade game. It would have taken him two, maybe three seconds to think up something wittier than Basketball, but instead they didn't even try. That's the spirit of this mini-game, which sees players throwing basketballs into a hoop before time runs out. You've seen this in the arcades before, it's a game of speed and precision. Of course, on the DS all you're doing is sliding the stylus up the screen hoping for the best.
Do you like Skee Ball? Chuck hopes so, because he has a direct rip-off called Alley Roller. Here you toss balls into holes, just like Skee Ball. The harder the hole, the more points it's worth. You know, just like Skee Ball. In fact, the only thing about this game that is different from Skee Ball is the name.
Last but not least, Jasper Racer is here to befuddle you. This is the only video game in the arcade, and even then it's not much. Jasper Racer features an overhead motorist who is forced to avoid puddles, oil spills and other obstacles. In other words, it's a lot like Spy Hunter without the guns, enemies, spies and hunting.
After each game you are rewarded a few tickets and a star rating. The better you do the more stars you earn. With five games to choose from, Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room offers a total of twenty possible stars. This is the extent of the arcade room. Once you've earned all twenty stars there is little left for you to do. The even bigger problem? I earned five stars on three of the games on the very first try.
But don't worry, there's still something for you to do after you've earned all twenty stars. The game offers a challenge room to lengthen the experience. This mode gives you a very specific goal to accomplish on all five of the mini-games. Much like the rest of the game, there's barely enough here to call it a mode.
When you aren't trying to complete totally inane challenges, then you're probably off earning more tickets. In true arcade fashion, it takes a long time to earn enough tickets to buy anything good. In Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room you exchange tickets for articles of clothing. These hats and shirts add new attributes to the player, allowing you to earn tickets faster and have special advantages in the mini-games. It's not a terrible idea, too bad the games themselves aren't more entertaining.
Worst of all, the one thing that would have made this game competitive is nowhere to be seen. The game likes to give out stars for high scores, but there's no way to see how your scores compare to everybody else. Heck, the game doesn't even save your high score locally. This seems like a major oversight for a game trying to emulate the arcade experience.
It's important to remember that this is a simple five dollar mini-game collection aimed at young kids. Will the target audience have a better time playing Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room than I did? Undoubtedly. But that doesn't mean that they should have to put up with such a lame collection of middling mini-games. Of the five available games, I only found the racing mode to be worthwhile. And even that gets old after the second play through. The writing is on the wall: I'm too old for Chuck E. Cheese's.
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