The Nintendo Wii has been a breeding ground for party game collections and that's exactly what 5 Arcade Gems for WiiWare is. It doesn't pretend to be anything else either, especially with the game's title. But with so many other options available to players, does 5 Arcade Gems live up to its own billing and provide gamers with some great gameplay, or is it simply another title that will be forgotten relatively quickly?
There are, in an unsurprising move, five titles present within the game, and they are: RC Buggy Madness, Jungle Pizza Delivery, Lumberjack Trials, Templar Bashing and Whirling Rangers. They are all rather odd sounding, but they are very apt descriptions. Each game is completely different to each other, but they are all designed with four players in mind, whether it be four humans, or one human and three AI.
The main problem is, and it's quite a significant problem, that none of the games are actually any good. They're all competent at best, but with a title promising 'gems', the actual games present can't help but disappoint, in a big way. Each of the games uses the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in different ways, but each of the games also suffers from being extremely boring, whether playing with friends or against the AI. Playing against the AI is actually a lot worse though, as games simply end when the player goes out, so it's possible to win by being eliminated first.
RC Buggy Madness is anything but mad or frantic. There are four RC Buggies and the object of the game is to pick up as many batteries as possible and take them back to the coloured square. Players can also nitro boost and ram other RC buggies in order to steal their batteries, but everything is just so slow that there's literally no excitement. The same appliess to Whirling Rangers, which is an arcade shooter set in space. Players control a ship which can only stick to the edges of what can only be described as a wormhole, as they shoot at objects coming their way. Again, the action is exceedingly boring and the graphics make it actually quite difficult to discern what's actually meant to be shot at.
The other three games don't really do much either, as Lumberjack Trials actually involves only one trial, and that's axe throwing. Unfortunately, while there is a crosshair provided, it's mostly redundant as the objects bounce around so randomly and it takes so long for the axe to actually hit the crosshair, that it's more about pot luck. Templar Bashing actually has a decent mechanic, as players have to avoid an object that's swinging at them in a circular motion. They can either hit it back at opponents or jump over it, but that's all the depth there is aside from it speeding up gradually to make it a bit more challenging.
The remaining game, Jungle Pizza Delivery, is just as random as it sounds, but it's probably the best game out of the bunch. Players have to waggle the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in the generic peddle motion, but they also need to avoid objects at both high and low levels. The only real problem is that no matter how fast players are, there is a maximum speed that stops them from getting too far ahead of the opposition. It's nice though, because the longer players survive, the harder it gets - lots of different obstacles are added and it can actually become quite challenging, unlike all of the other games.
The uninspired gameplay is complemented by equally uninspiring graphics, which creates for an overall game that's, well... uninspired. The music and sound effects do little to help tip the balance either and it just promotes a feeling of disappointment about the whole package - something that's a real shame. There isn't really much replay value either, as it really depends on how much people want to play it. Going through each game once can literally take 10 minutes, so an hours session will mean a lot of games will have been played. It's unclear how long gamers could really put up with playing these games without simply getting bored and moving on to the other games available on the Wii which do a much better job.
It's a shame, but describing any of the mini-games found within 5 Arcade Gems as 'gems', couldn't actually be further from the truth. Each of the games is bland and boring and it's difficult to see anyone really finding even decent amounts of entertainment from playing them. There are much better collections of mini-games available for the Wii, so it's probably best to ignore 5 Arcade Gems.