5-in-1 Arcade Hits – Lots of Games for Little Money
5-in-1 Arcade Hits from Grip Games is more truthfully described as 4 classic or traditional games and 1 arcade game. It’s a bit of a puzzle why they called it that, because it seems like it would attract the wrong audience, and at the same time not attract the audience that would most appreciate the game.
You could also make a case it’s more than 5 games, because some of the one player vs two player variations could be enough to be considered a whole different game. Regardless of the name, it’s an intriguing package.
This was originally called Patience, but these days is probably best known as Solitaire. Although it’s not exactly difficult playing this with a deck of cards, it’s very popular on computers, at least since they invented mice (and Windows included a version). This is the standard, Klondike version.
You have two options, Easy and Hard. Hard you go through the remaining undealt cards in threes (which is how most people play it), while in Easy you go through them one at a time (and really is easy).
The interface is well done. As I mentioned, you really didn’t see this sort of game on the computer until the mouse became popular, because a mouse mimics the gameplay of moving cards around so well, and without one it’s suprisingly complicated. So translating the gameplay into a d-pad wasn’t so effortless. But they did a pretty good job.
Not only is moving the cards around to the various piles easy, you can simply hit the Triangle button to put a card from the lower area (tableau) to the upper one (foundation).
This is completely top down, 2D only. Since it’s only 2D, it’s very easy to sink balls into the pockets, especially as it gives you arrows showing where the balls go. At least as long as other balls aren’t in the way. You also can’t really do any trick shots since you can’t put any sort of spin on the ball, really.
You can play either one player or two player. One player mode is for score, and rather than being 8-ball vs a computer opponent, you have 10 balls that you must sink.
Two player mode is more or less traditional 8-ball. The tricky thing in this though, is that either by a glitch or by design, the 8-ball is not the traditional black, but a light blue. It shows a black path when you aim at it, so I guess it is probably a glitch.
This is what Americans (or at least me) call Concentration and Hasbro calls “Memory”. Basically you have a set of cards laid face down. Every turn you flip over two cards. The goal is to find a matched pair. But since they are face down, you need to rely on your memory (or your psychic powers).
This has three difficulty levels. Easy uses pictures of objects. Normal uses numbers. And Hard is very hard indeed, it apparently uses some sort of Asian writing – Chinese? Japanese? I don’t know. Maybe even Mayan? But something unfamiliar to me and probably most people.
You can play with one or two players. Probably more fun with two players, since that way you can see what is revealed on your turn without costing you any moves.
This is really the only “arcade” like game of the bunch, though it is about as classic an arcade as you get. Depending on how many players you pick, it’s basically either Pong (Two Player) or Breakout (One Player, though it keeps the horizontal layout of Pong).
Controls really make or break these games, especially on something like the PSP that has a d-pad, but they really did a great job on this. It was very easy hitting the ball with the paddle, a basic task in these sort of games that can be almost impossible with poor controls. But more often that not you do have really bad controls.
In the one player option, you control a paddle on the left side of the screen and you can move it up and down with the d-pad. You then bounce a ball off bricks that are on the right side of the screen. When you hit a brick, generally it vanishes. Though some bricks take more than one hit to destroy, while others explode, taking neighboring bricks with them.
The catch here, is that the rows of bricks moves towards you (this was in Super Breakout, so it’s not that new a twist). When they reach your paddle, game over. The bricks seem to come in patterns, but these patterns appear to be random. I think this hurts this game, because sometimes you start with a pattern that is almost impossible to destroy all the bricks of quickly, while other times you start with one that is.
I would have liked this a lot better if the wall of bricks didn’t move. An option for this (like in Super Breakout) would have been nice.
In the two player option, it’s like Pong, each player controls a paddle on one end of the screen. The d-pad controls the left one, the buttons control the right. In the middle there are two columns of bricks, presumably one for each player.
The first player to get 10 points wins, a point being obtained by the opponent missing a ball (again, like in Pong). I didn’t get to try this with two players, but just with one person it seemed rather a lot of work to get a ball past the paddle because you have a lot of time to get ready for it. More dangerous is the ball hitting a brick and bouncing back on you.
At first I had no idea what this was. Then I realized it was one of those old sliding puzzle things. Basically you have 15 numbers (from 1 to 15) in 16 squares, one being blank. You try to arrange them in order (1-2-3-4 on the first row, 5-6-7-8 on the second row, and so forth) by sliding or exchanging places.
At least you do on Easy. On the normal setting, you have a picture of a star, and on Hard, you have a picture of a Scrubbing Bubble (I have no idea what it is, that’s what it looks like).
This has an interesting history, it was sort of like the Rubik’s Cube of the 19th Century and still is around today, as evidenced by its inclusion here (and I had a plastic version as a kid, which I solved by taking apart, which I also did with the Rubik’s Cube, actually)
I think these are for those people wired a certain way, though. Just like you can solve a Rubik’s Cube really quick by basically applying a computer like algorithm to it, so you can with this. But how many people enjoy thinking like a computer? If you do, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you probably will play it a little bit, get frustrated, then annoyed, and quit.
All in All
Is it better to do a lot of things, or do one thing really well? This went for the former. That said, even for the lesser games, like 15 Puzzle and Pairs, they gave you three different options that are quite different. It’s a bit strange that this didn’t extend to Tetroid and Solitaire, which do give you some options, but perhaps could have used a few more.
Personally, out of these five, the only two I would probably play on a regular basis are Solitaire and Pool. While $4 for 5 games seems like a good deal, $4 for 2 games is less of one, especially considering how lacking in frills they are.
Then again, these sort of games have a timeless appeal. This isn’t one of those Minis you’ll play for a few hours, beat, and never play again. You’ll likely be firing it up now and then for as long as you own your PSP to play a hand of Solitaire or a round of Pool or one of the others. Even the one (well, more like two) arcade game in this, has been around for over 30 years and people keep making clones of it.
Also, fitting the pick and play nature of this, the loading times are quite quick, 15 seconds to get to the main menu from the XMB. If that’s not a record, it’s got to be close to one. It also has the online leaderboard function, which was too much work for me (after two tries, I couldn’t pass the captcha for signing up for a new account on their site so gave up), but a very clever idea.