Earlier this year, DSiWare had the misfortune of becoming home to Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room. A joyless collection of five dull mini-games and additional gimmicks such as achievements and an outfit customisation feature, the game was a disappointment in nearly every possible way.
Now we have a semi-sequel in the form of Chuck E. Cheese's Alien Defense Force. The idea here seems to be to streamline the experience of the first game, finding some measure of improvement simply by cutting out what didn't work.
That's a good impulse, and one we certainly stand behind, but when Chuck E. Cheese's Alien Defense Force cuts out everything that didn't work in the first game, it's left with almost nothing at all.
In the first game there were five games to play, and in this game there's one. Oh sure, there are seemingly five games to choose from here as well, but they're all identical, barring speed and the style of targets you'll be shooting at. Instead of five distinct experiences, you have one single game with multiple difficulty settings, none of which are actually difficult at all.
In fact, if you were unfortunate enough to download Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room, you already have this game. There it's called Mr. Munch's Target Practice, and it plays the same as it does here. The main difference now is that you can choose between playing as Chuck E. Cheese, who uses a water gun, and Mr. Munch himself, who throws water balloons.
To play, you tap the target. As we mentioned in our review of the previous game, the closest thing to strategy is that you have to tap slightly ahead of the target, which is something you'll already know if you've ever encountered things that move. That's it.
In the lower left you'll see the number and type of target you need to hit in order to succeed at your mission — mission, apparently, is an extraordinarily loose term — and in the lower right you'll see an icon you can tap to reload. If you fail to hit all the targets before the time runs out you'll have to play the same game again. If you succeed in hitting all the targets before time runs out, you can move on to the next machine and play the same game again. What a reward.
While we're glad the developers decided to focus on one of the few games from the original collection that wasn't broken, we're disappointed that they didn't take any steps to make it more fun. Gone too are the abilities to dress Chuck E. and collect prizes from the first game, meaning even fans of that abysmal lump of garbage will find disappointment here.
We do still have an achievements system intact, but they simply unlock whenever they feel like it, with no hints on guidance on how to get them. Once you do get them you'll have no idea how you did it. It just...happens.
The controls are fine, but when they consist solely of tapping objects that's hardly something to crow about. The music is endlessly irritating and the graphics are static faces and objects. It's an awful, awful game, and we're pretty sure we spent more time writing about it than the developers did making it. It'd be a lot cheaper and exactly as much fun to tap the touch screen with your system off.
Chuck E. Cheese's Alien Defense Force is an awful game. On the bright side, it's built entirely around one of the few games from Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room that actually worked. Unfortunately there's absolutely nothing else here, and you simply play that game over and over again. Or, more likely, not, because you have better things to do with your day. Trust us.