Welcome to another installment of Wiikly WiiWare Wiiview. The games this week are 5 In 1 Solitaire, Tumblebugs 2, and Tales of Monkey Island: Rise of the Pirate God. Because I have already reviewed the PC version of Tales of Monkey Island, I will not be reviewing the WiiWare version. The two are nearly identical—aside from very slight controller differences—and reviewing it again would be pointless. It plays the same as previous installments, so the main focus is on the story. If you are interested in my opinion on it, feel free to read my previous Tales of Monkey Island review. Otherwise, check out the other two titles we have this week…
5 In 1 Solitaire
Once again, Digital Leisure has brought us another game that we don’t really need. It makes sense to make handheld card games because something like Solitaire Overload can be great for a long trip, but I will never understand why they keep making these games for home consoles. And I especially don’t understand why they are usually solitaire games because if you have a deck of playing cards at home—which most people do—you can already play these games at any time. And if you don’t have a deck of cards, you can easily buy one for cheaper than US $5 (the price of this game). In fact, for my wife’s birthday last year, I had an Alice In Wonderland theme and I bought 20 decks of cards (as party favors) at a retail outlet for very close to the same price as 5 In 1 Solitaire.
For those familiar with the DSiWare game of the same name, this is identical, aside from a few Wii-related tweaks here and there. The game contains Klondike (what most people know simply as Solitaire), Freecell, Spider, Golf, and Gaps. The first three of these come with almost all computers these days, free of charge, so they don’t hold a lot of appeal. The latter two games were new to me, so I spent more time playing them, but I found neither of them to be particularly interesting, and I discovered that Golf is basically an easier version of Tri-Peaks. I also had a bit of trouble remembering some of the rules, which brings me to one of the game’s several faults…
Every card game within 5 In 1 Solitaire has a helpful tutorial, but these can only be accessed before you start playing. If you have started playing and wish to be reminded of a particular rule, there is no in-game hints/tips feature. Instead, you have to exit your game and go through the whole tutorial again. You are able to save your progress and continue later, but it is still a hassle. The same goes for all options, actually. The few options and settings available are completely inaccessible while playing a game.
The ability to change certain game rules adds some extra appeal, but it isn’t anything that we don’t see with any other digital card game. The only thing that might set this apart is the action of pointing and clicking with your Wii remote, but even that isn’t a new feature for card games anymore, as this is only the newest of several very similar WiiWare offerings. In fact, 5 In 1 Solitaire actually takes a step back by having only a single boring—and borderline annoying—song in its soundtrack, as well as graphics that are almost painful to look. The images have been stretched so much that many cards are almost unrecognizable. The screenshot seen above this 5 In 1 Solitaire review looks significantly better than the actual game.
The only redeeming quality to be found here is that the card games themselves are enjoyable, but Digital Leisure had no part in this, and I contend that you could actually enjoy these games more without playing them on your console. If you don’t believe me, do a quick search online and you will find all of these games online absolutely free. Or better yet, do yourself a favor and buy a deck of cards. It’s much cheaper and it allows you play hundreds of solitaire games at any time. Not a bad deal, eh? Now, go enjoy yourselves while we wait for Digital Leisure to make a coin-toss game.
Tumblebugs 2 is one of many ball-popping adventure games, a genre that surprisingly hasn’t seen much action on the Wii despite its immense popularity on the PC. Of course, this work’s greatly to its advantage because while it nearly drowns in the competition on the PC, it stands as one of the top contenders on the Wii. And rightly so because regardless of the number of competing titles on either platform, it is actually one of the better games available in this particular genre.
The game greatly resembles Zuma, but it is definitely far more appealing visually, using brighter colors and better-refined visuals. And while it initially seems to play the same, Tumblebugs 2 actually has a lot more to offer, allowing players to call upon animal friends for assistance and even giving you the ability to sometimes relocate yourself on the playing field. It also has some interesting power-ups that aren’t normally seen in other games, such as the arc shot that lets you over rows of colored bugs; something that can be extremely useful at times, especially considering that this is slightly more difficult than what you are probably used to.
Another new addition that I particularly liked was the use of two backup shots rather than just the one that is seen in other games. If the ball you currently hold isn’t what you want, you now have two other options. And you will want to use this advantage to its fullest extent when you start getting to harder levels that always have you near loss. Controlling with the Wii remote isn’t quite as fluid and precise as using a computer mouse, but it only takes a few minutes to get a handle of things. The only problem is that, like with many Wii games, your arm and wrist will get tired, which might make you physically unable to play for as long as you would like.
As you work your way through the 89 levels, you will also unlock levels in Endless Mode and Rescue Mode, which is essentially a harder version of the main game. The main story mode alone will keep you occupied for hours, so these additional modes are unnecessary but very welcome and very much worth the modest 800-point price tag. Tumblebugs 2 is at a slight disadvantage by being yet another game in an already-overcrowded genre, but it certainly proves itself to be worthy of playing with the big boys. Luxor 3 has always been the preferred source of ball-popping action on the Wii for my household, but it may be time to lay the pharaohs to rest and let the bugs come out to play.
5 In 1 Solitaire was developed and published by Digital Leisure.
Tumblebugs 2 was developed and published by Gameshastra.
Tales of Monkey Island: Rise of the Pirate God was developed and published by Telltale Games.
All titles were released for WiiWare in North America on 2/1/2010.