Review: Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room (DSiWare)

Cheese Louise

We're not sure why UFO Interactive bothered to get the Chuck E. Cheese license for this mirthless assortment of half-baked minigames, but we can conclusively say that it wasn't worth its time or the effort to do so. Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room is, in a word, awful.

The first major issue is the stingy number of games available. We're not sure how many games it takes to qualify for the title of "arcade room," but we'd certainly have expected more than five, especially when two of them feel like identical duplicates of others; thereby leaving us with an even more measly three.

Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room is essentially just a menu from which you select these minigames. There are a few attempts at padding out the experience, which we'll get to in a moment, but the games on offer are the main attraction, and they're uniformly abysmal. For starters, there's Basketball and Alley Roller (you may know the latter as Skee Ball), which are both controlled the same way: flicking the stylus upward on the screen. That's it.

The angle of your throw and the speed are both controlled by this single flick of the stylus, which means that once you stumble upon the correct flick to hit your target, you never have to deviate from it. In fact, you'd be foolish to, and you'll find yourself scoring perfect games almost immediately. As evidence of this, the first time we played Basketball we had a streak of 10 or 11 baskets. The second time we played we got 89 without even having to try, simply by repeating the same simple swipe. After that, there was really no point playing. Ditto Alley Roller, wherein you only need to hit the 1,000 point target once, and then just repeat what you've done until you're out of balls. It's clearly a broken experience and, as you might expect, not very fun at all.

The second pair of duplicate games are the cumbersomely named Mr. Munch Target Practice and Smash a Munch. The first one is a simple shooting gallery into which no care was put whatsoever, as evidenced by Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room's carefree attitude toward its spelling, sometimes calling it Mr. Munch Target Practice and other times Mr. Munch's Target Practice. For a collection that didn't provide any guidance at all in its own help file, this fits pretty well with the overall level of care invested in development. To play, you tap the target you wish to hit. You should aim a bit ahead of where your target is moving, which is probably common sense to anybody who's ever encountered a moving object in their lifetime, but since that's all the game has to offer in terms of strategy we thought it was worth pointing out.

Its duplicate is Smash a Munch, which you might recognize as a variation on Whac-A-Mole. We say "variation" because the main difference here is that it's not any fun: you use the stylus to tap Munch as he appears. If you think that's worth 500 of your hard-earned points, then be our guest and download it immediately. The small screen and slow movement of Munch make for an incredibly easy game, without any variation whatsoever.

The outlier here is a game that's alternately referred to as Jasper Racing and Jasper's Racing, because Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room wants to rub our nose in the fact that it really doesn't give two hoots what you think about it. In this game you control a motorbike that's driving forward: pressing A causes you to speed up, and you can also move left and right.

This is the most unique game on offer, and there are still two major problems here. Firstly, this is the only game that isn't controlled by the stylus, and since you can't even navigate the menus without it that means you'll have to put your stylus away for a quick round of Jasper Racing (or Jasper's Racing), and then dig it out again as soon as you finish, even if all you want to do is start it up again. This is a pretty unnecessary annoyance and perpetuates the feeling that you're playing a very unfinished title. The other problem is that its obstacles are randomized, meaning you can sometimes drive directly forward throughout the entire game, without having to move even once. How common could that problem possibly be? Well, we played through it four times, and that exact situation happened twice, so you be the judge.

There's also an option in the arcade to play Dress Up. Here you have a picture of Chuck E. Cheese himself that you can customize with different hats, shirts and pants. It's exactly as fun as you'd expect, and completely unnecessary. Most of his clothing is locked, but you can unlock it by buying a single item from the Shop.

The Shop contains various items you can buy with your tickets, which you earn from playing the games. Most of these items do nothing at all, so there's no real incentive to unlock them. The only one potentially worth getting is the one that unlocks additional clothing options for Chuck E. Cheese, but somehow we didn't see that as much incentive at all. Call us sticks in the mud.

There is also a section called Challenges, which sees you trying to achieve a particular score or other condition on each of the five games. The bars are set quite low here and we cleared them all the first time we tried. Our reward for doing so? Nothing, unless you count never having to play Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room again.

And we do.

Conclusion

Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Room is, simply, awful. It's a meager collection of five games that range from tedious to broken, and the in-game incentives to keep playing — tickets and challenges — just serve to underscore the dullness of the experience on offer. There is nothing worth recommending here, and with far superior games available for fewer points, this one feels like outright robbery. The graphics are passable and the music manages not to be irritating, but the experience as a whole is just plain unsatisfying. Colour us cheesed off.