Review: 10-in-1: Arcade Collection (3DS eShop)

Is it worth your hard-earned quarters?

Retro enthusiasts may be disappointed to learn that 10-in-1 Arcade Collection doesn't actually include any arcade greats of yesteryear. Luck would have it that Atari — despite decades of financial turmoil and even bankruptcy — still holds the rights to most of its impressive back catalogue. It's a similar situation when it comes to the games library of late arcade stalwart Midway, which had most of its assets picked up by Warner Bros in the wake of its demise in 2009. As a result, it's pretty much impossible — or at least very expensive — for a developer to get its hands on the licenses to these classic franchises. Therefore, Gamelion Studios has opted to do the next best thing with its latest 3DS eShop title and has instead created a retro-infused game collection that merely draws inspiration from classics such as Breakout and Asteroids, albeit with some minor gameplay changes and fresher visuals.

Although there are only ten games to choose from, the selection is quite varied in terms of genre; there's action, platforming and puzzle experiences, although the quality does differ drastically between titles. For example, Black Nightmares — 10-in-1 Arcade Collection's answer to Space Invaders — is one of those games that sits at the upper end of the spectrum. The premise is very similar to the original classic, with the most notable differences being that the enemies tend to fire off a lot more shots, and it's possible to shoot through cover without destroying it. Tangled Space stays mostly true to the original formula of Asteroids, but goes one step further by throwing black holes into the mix, which disrupt the trajectory of any asteroids that happen to cross their paths. In this regard, it's fair to say that 10-in-1 Arcade Collection does a good job of striking a good balance between authenticity and refinement. The most surprising hit, however, is Special Delivery, a platforming title in which your character moves along automatically. All you have to do is control the speed, time the jumps and avoid/defeat enemies; this sounds simple enough, but it's actually a pretty devious challenge in places, not to mention very addictive.

Nevertheless, a couple of games are a bit on the dull side when it comes to the gameplay. The main culprit here is Gem Breaker — a Breakout clone — which features a lot of levels that simply take too much time to complete. This is due to a culmination of weaker gameplay elements, such as slow ball speed and awkward designs that contain blocks which require an excessive amount of hits to be destroyed. Another game, Saucer Room, borrows the concept behind mobile favourite Snake but fails to provide the same exciting gameplay experience. It's functional by all means, but it's far too easy because the game speed never increases, and chances are you'll tire of it before you get too far into it.

Overall, there isn't a great deal of depth to be found in any of the 10 games on offer. They are, after all, based on games which traditionally are meant to suck you — and the contents of your wallet — in for a relatively short amount of time. As has been the case with nearly all arcade games in the past, it's the competition around earning the highest score that draws in most people. Unfortunately, this is where 10-in-1 Arcade Collection misses a trick. The game does save your best score for each game, but for some strange reason doesn't feature a high-score board. Yes, it may be a game on a portable system that is typically intended for just one player, but this omission makes it feel far less authentic; competition has been at the heart of arcade games for decades and there's nothing quite like forever marking your impressive legacy with three simple initials (well, until the next decent player comes along, that is). Having something as basic as online leaderboards would have made a big difference in this particular area.

In terms of presentation, 10-in-1 Arcade Collection – unsurprisingly – sports a similar retro look to games like Mutant Mudds. While it isn’t as well-crafted as the Renegade Kid hit, it’s nevertheless vibrant and pays homage to this art style of old. Moreover, the visuals are sharp and thus do not hinder the gameplay in any negative way. There’s the odd game that looks a little uninspired; in particular Devil Maze (which could certainly do with a splash of colour here and there) and Special Delivery fail to emulate the charm of most modern retro-styled games.

How much lasting enjoyment you get out of 10-in-1 Arcade Collection really depends on gaming tastes. If you’re looking for a simple, pick-up-and-play experience to entertain yourself with every now and again, then this title will likely serve you well.

Conclusion

Available for a very affordable price and containing a good variety of games, 10-in-1 Arcade Collection may be a worthwhile investment for those who want a title they can pick up and play every now and again. While it may not provide a like-for-like experience, the game does a valiant job of recreating — and in some cases revitalising — the gameplay concepts behind some of arcade gaming's most revered classics. Unfortunately, it isn't perfect; there are a few duds within the mix that damage the overall package, and the lack of a decent scoreboard system is disappointing. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a simple, yet highly playable game to enjoy in-between the 3DS' deeper experiences, then you might want to give 10-in-1 Arcade Collection a go.

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