Indie developer Skunk Software sent me a download code for their Wii U eShop game called Mini-Games Madness Volume #1: Hello World. Kind of a generic and excessively long title, but I gave it a shot. It normally sells for $4.99 in the Wii U eShop.
The game consists of four mini-games which can be chosen from a glitchy, flashing menu screen that looks like it’s playing on a badly warped VHS tape from the 1980s. It has to be the worst menu screen I’ve ever seen. I’ll talk about each of the four mini-games separately:
Eels and Ladders
This is a board game for 1-2 players. If you’ve played Chutes and Ladders, you’ll know how this works. You and your opponent (human or computer) start out at the bottom of the screen and work your way up 100 numbered spaces; whoever reaches #100 first wins the game. By touching a tiny icon on the gamepad, you roll a die to see the number of spaces you move.
As the title suggests, there are eels and ladders on the board. If you land on a ladder, you will climb up the ladder–taking a shortcut. If you land on the mouth of an eel, you will slide down to the eel’s tail–taking you backward.
For some reason, the game board is quite narrow–it only takes about one-third of the screen width. Why not make it wider and use the full TV or gamepad screen? It would be easier to see the details (not that there are many) and it would look better. But not many wise decisions were made in the design of this collection, as you’ll soon see.
Games of Eels and Ladders are simple and quick; they won’t take much more than two or three minutes to complete. The music isn’t bad, and you have the option to choose the background image of the board, but there’s not much fun to be had here. My rating: 2/10
This farming mini-game starts with an audio tutorial from a man with a stereotypical southern accent. You start by planting seeds with the A button. And then you wait for a tiny indicator (which isn’t very noticeable at first and resembles a shadow on the ground) to slowly enlarge and turn green. Press the A button while it’s green to water the seeds.
Another indicator will then slowly grow and turn green; it tells you when to harvest your crops. But you have to be quick, because you only have a few seconds to collect your veggies before they die!
The left control stick moves the camera around your farm–but it moves quickly and erratically. It’s extremely easy to overshoot your target. There are five types of vegetables you can grow, but it gets monotonous in a hurry. Watching that indicator grow and pressing “A” when it turns green is all the gameplay you get. This isn’t Harvest Moon where you can explore, participate in festivals, and talk to other characters: This game has none of that.
However, you can upgrade parts of your farm, including your storage sheds, water tower, windmills, and vehicles. Each upgrade will increase your production rate by a bit, and that allows you to grow crops slightly faster. Fully upgrading your farm will take 10+ hours of play time, so at least it does give you a goal to work towards–even if the journey there is mind-numbingly repetitive.
You can save your progress by using the green arrows to back out to the main menu. But I’ve noticed that not all of my money is there when I return! It may just be a few thousand dollars, so it won’t take more than a couple minutes to earn it back, but still…why?
If there’s a fee for saving your progress, well that’s just stupid. The in-game manual makes no mention of it, but the in-game manual is pathetic anyway and does a poor job at explaining anything. I figure the loss of money at startup is likely a glitch.
Some of the music in Mini Farmer is relaxing and enjoyable, and that’s the best thing I can say about it. The game itself is tedious and monotonous. I fully upgraded my farm only from a compulsive need to complete it before posting this review, but I did not enjoy the journey. My rating for Mini Farmer: 3/10
You control a helicopter as it flies through a cavern, avoiding walls and platforms. You use the left control stick or the A button to make the helicopter move up. It’s played just like Flappy Bird, really. But the graphics are so simplistic, barren, and drab that they actually make Flappy Bird look like an artistic masterpiece in comparison. Heck, most Atari 2600 games are more visually appealing! Even the font used for your score is tiny, narrow, and virtually unreadable.
Your score goes up the farther you go without crashing, and the speed gradually increases as well. As for the fun factor, it never gets off the ground. I’ve written a previous post about a good game in this style called Superflx DX: It’s a free, homebrew game for the Atari Jaguar no less, and it completely obliterates Copter in absolutely every way. Seriously.
Even in a compilation full of bad games, Copter is so horrible that it feels out of place. It never should have been included. In anything, anywhere, at any time. My rating: 1/10
This mini-game has you constantly running forward through a cave as you avoid obstacles, jump over gaps, and collect gems. Once you miss a jump and fall off the path, your game is over. Your score is based on how far you traveled and how many gems you collected.
This mode may keep you entertained for several minutes, making it one of the better mini-games in this collection. Of course that’s not saying much. It’s repetitive and it gets old quickly. But I made it a bit more enjoyable by purposely running through fire–just to see my character burn his butt.
To put it bluntly, this collection is awful. The mini-games feel like incomplete demos (especially Eels & Ladders and Copter). I’m sure there are some 6th graders out there that have done projects that were better than this. Honestly, I’m surprised that Nintendo even allows “games” this bad in their eShop. I do not recommend buying this game.
My overall rating: 2/10
One interesting thing I noticed on the Skunk Software website is their slogan: Stinking up the competition. Are they purposely publishing bad games? Are they trolling Nintendo? That slogan really makes me wonder.
Disclosure: Skunk Software provided me with a free copy of this game. This fact has not affected my review in any way.