Plug ‘n’ play video game systems have been around for awhile. Sometimes you’ll see officially licensed versions for Donkey Kong or Pac-Man, but mostly you’ll see some astronomical of games packed into one controller for $20-40. There are some plug ‘n’ plays that you can pick up at flea markets that are collections of NES games.
I’ve never bought a plug ‘n’ play before. They are notoriously awful. Bad graphics, bad game play, bad controls. Yet you can find them in almost any store that has a toy department. This 50 game version of the dreamGEAR Plug ‘N’ Play retails for $19.99 but I picked it up at Walgreens on clearance for $5. I would’ve never bought this at full price but I figured I could get $5 worth of amusement out of this. I think I have.
Here’s what the controller looks like:
You’ve got your standard AV cables, an analog stick (which is not responsive at all and barely moves), a D-pad (which is much better but not perfect), reset button, start button, a yellow turbo button, a blue turbo button, red ‘A’ button and green ‘B’ button.
I was aware of what I was getting into. Puzzle games, racing games, side-scrollers, shooters and clones of classic games. The graphics are all 8-bit quality. Think back to how the early NES games look and that’s pretty close for a lot of these game. Now, a few words about some of these games.
I have to admit, some of these titles sound interesting. Power Robot, Dune War, Final Blood (unfortunately, not a Rambo-type game)… but the ultimate would be Mirror Devil World and Devildom Doom! These games are actually terrible, of course, but their names did attract me.
Out of the first twenty games, I have to say that Wonder Rabbit is probably the best. Right off the bat, I noticed the game’s environment looked a lot like the U.S. version of Super Mario Bros. 2. I would been totally okay with playing a clone of that. Unfortunately, the game play is different.
There are five different “rabbits” you can alternate between and each one has his own special abilities. The tan rabbit can throw stuff and jump fairly well, the green rabbit can jump really well and climb up/down, blue rabbit throws stuff (something different from the tan rabbit, I don’t know what) but doesn’t jump as well, the orange rabbit has boxing gloves to punch with and can hardly jump at all and the red rabbit has dragon wings and can fly.
None of these rabbits look like rabbits. I don’t know what they look like. The red rabbit looks like a dragon from How to Train Your Dragon. It’s hard to tell what your enemies supposed to be as well, but they seem inspired by Super Mario enemies.
A good attempt, but obviously, still a failure.
I though River Jump was interesting just for the fact that they made no attempt to avoid copyright infringement:
From this batch, Mad Xmas is probably the best. Basically, an angry-looking Santa Claus is sitting up in a cloud and throwing down candy canes, Christmas presents, lightning bolts and bombs. As an elf, you have to catch the candy canes and presents. If you catch a bomb though…
I thought Mad in Red might be a sequel, but it’s not. It’s just a soldier in a red uniform shooting stuff that falls from the sky.
Pulveration isn’t too bad for what it is. You’re a tank going around trying to destroy buildings and other tanks.
The final ten! Snowball is the best here. It’s a puzzle game where you play as a snowman trying to push the giant snowballs into the right spots with a limited number of moves.
At this point, there’s a 140 game version of this Plug ‘N’ Play but I can imagine most of those games are clones of themselves. There’s a couple of games here that are essentially the same, it’s just a different setting.
If you paid full price for this, you messed up. For $5, it was kind worth the amusement. It’s bad but it feels retro at the same time because a lot of these games were obviously inspired or copied from the early arcade & NES eras. Really young children that haven’t been exposed to modern video games might find some of these games enjoyable and a few of the puzzle games are decent time wasters (though probably would be better suited as mobile games).