Mini-game collections have always run the quality gamut, but it's fair to say that the numbers are weighted much more heavily towards the negative end of the spectrum. For every Game & Watch Gallery there's a seemingly infinite number of Chuck E. Cheese's Arcade Rooms. So if we really wanted to look for a silver lining, we guess we can at least say that the utter awfulness of Arcade Classics 3D doesn't come as an unexpected surprise.
In what might be an eShop first, starting the game launches you right into the main menu. There's no developer's name displayed before Arcade Classics 3D begins, and we can't exactly blame them for that; we wouldn't have put our names on this garbage either.
The first thing you are likely to notice is that the 3D effect is almost overwhelming. Much like Gummy Bears Magical Medallion, playing the game with the 3D slider up all the way is a physically nauseating experience. That means that the only new feature this title brings to the games included — the 3D — is best left unused. Not a great start.
Actually, that's a bit unfair. Arcade Classics 3D does add one more difference to the games: it makes them all absolutely terrible.
While it might be nice to list the games in increasing or decreasing order of quality, the fact is that they're all equally lousy, so we'll just list them in the order of the menu: Jewels is a clone of Bejeweled, Bounce & Break is a clone of Arcanoid, Impacts is a clone of Asteroids, Pop it Up is a clone of Bust-A-Move, Swap is a clone of Columns, and Blocks is a clone of Tetris.
Those are all games that would be nice to have in the same place, but not when the cloning process is this thoroughly inept.
Jewels, Swap and Blocks all suffer from needlessly sluggish movement. For games that don't amount to much more than shifting geometric shapes from side to side, that's inexcusable. It's particularly problematic in Swap and Blocks, because gamers are used to immediate response when dealing with the falling shapes. After all, that's the only way anyone could ever have gotten good at Columns or Tetris. Here, however, trying to move a piece left or right results in a slow, agonizing glide that makes it feel like the piece is falling through a vat of heavy syrup.
The original appeal of games like this had to do with how frantic and demanding such a simple task became, whether it was completing lines or arranging colours. Now, however, that urgency has been totally erased, and it's been replaced with nothing. The end result is a lesser copy that somehow manages to make you wonder how you ever enjoyed playing the originals. Arcade Classics 3D isn't just bad...it feels retroactively bad.
Jewels also seems to suffer the additional problem of the game playing itself. We lost count of how many levels ended simply because we lined up three jewels of the same type — without even thinking it through — and then sat patiently while stream after stream of like jewels rushed into the empty spaces, disappearing over and over again. The level was "solved" without us having really done anything, and since the game was doing so well without us we didn't see the need to continue playing.
Bounce & Break features its own spin on the unresponsive controls, as the paddle will continue gliding in one direction after you change it another, which turns the simple action of bouncing a ball into a nightmare of impossible prediction. As in Arkanoid, power-ups will fall from some blocks that are broken. However these fall excruciatingly slowly, and the game is extremely picky about recognizing that they've touched your paddle; they will often phase right through. What's more, collecting a power-up causes an opaque "explosion" effect to obscure your view of the paddle, making it incredibly easy to miss the ball simply because you can't see where you are.
Pop it Up is probably the most shameless of all the clones, as it actually lifts specific level arrangements right from Bust-A-Move. It wasn't just the concept that was cloned, it was the actual puzzles, meaning no real thought went into this one at all. It controls decently enough, which is nice, but the evidence of laziness is truly revealed when the game comes to a dead stop after around two dozen levels. Arcade Classics 3D stole just enough level design from Bust-A-Move to trick you into thinking it was worth playing. In truth it offers just a handful of levels...and then unceremoniously stops.
Impacts is the last game, and it sees you flying around space, firing lasers at asteroids that then break into smaller pieces. There's some attempt to spice this one up, as there are two different types of guns you can use and a shield meter that prevents every collision from being an instant kill. However the bad far outweighs the good, as the graphics in this game make it difficult to tell the asteroids from the background. Not helping matters is the fact that moving objects will sometimes soar harmlessly by behind you, though in the heat of the moment it's easy to get fooled by them and end up dodging something that wasn't actually an obstacle.
Like Pop it Up, Impacts just eventually comes to an end. Perhaps the developers just had a feeling that no human being in their right mind would play long enough to see this happen, but there you go.
None of the games include instructions on how to play them or what to do within Arcade Classics 3D itself; you'll have to switch over to the manual for that, which is pretty bizarre as the touch screen isn't utilized except for navigating the menu, and it would have been more helpful to have the basic instructions posted there than it is to see the clip-art level drawing of a robot that eats up the space instead.
Also, as you're selecting games, you can see an arcade cabinet rotating on the top screen, the front of which displays the game you are about to play. This is an issue when you're trying to find a particular game by sight — we wouldn't blame anyone for failing to memorise the names — because the cabinets rotate extremely slowly, and you'll often have to wait for the thing to turn all the way back around again before you can see the screen.
Yes, that's right: Arcade Classics 3D even botches the simple act of having you select a game from a menu, which is pretty much the final word on how much the developers cared about quality of the product that they now expect you to pay for.
There's also a high score screen, which displays a single score for each of the six games and doesn't allow you to enter your initials, which sort of makes us wonder if the people behind Arcade Classics 3D have ever been in the arcades that allegedly inspired it.
Arcade Classics 3D is more than just a lousy collection of inept minigames; it's lazy to boot. With sluggish response to your inputs, painfully strong 3D effects and a steadfast refusal to twist in any way the experiences of the six much better games it shamelessly clones, this might rank as one of the worst eShop releases yet. The one thing we can say in its favour is that the controls do technically work; as its press release worryingly advertised, these games are indeed "playable." Why anybody would want to play these particular versions, however, is a question for which we don't have an answer.