Tropix is disappointing. Like Sally’s Salon, it is a DS port of a RealArcade title. Unlike Sally’s Salon, this port didn’t turn out too well, and yielded an overpriced collection of games we’ve played before. If you don’t mind playing average casual games and are looking for a tropical-themed mini-game collection, Tropix provides another option. You may want to shop around before settling on it though.
While most casual mini-game collections don’t really have a goal, besides just playing the games for fun while waiting for a bus or something, Tropix does. You start out with five games, and are tasked with buying and building up islands to unlock more. This is accomplished by playing the games available to you to earn sand dollars. You then spend sand dollars on island accouterments to make it comfortable, filled with food and fun. Once an island meets the three criteria, you get a new game and can work on saving up for your next island.
My biggest qualm with Tropix is the dreaded unlocking. The game proclaims, “11 games in one!” on the front cover. But, you don’t get all 11 games right away. You don’t even get Sudoku or Mahjong initially, two titles listed on the back of the box. Instead, you start with Puffer Popper (a Zuma/Luxor clone), Coco Bowl (bowling), Jungle Jump, Solitaire, Water Words (Boggle-esque) and Cascade (match-3). If you want other games, like Sudoku, you have to improve your island.
But you don’t even get to unlock games like Sudoku and Mahjong right away. Completing your first island, Outset Island, unlocks Shell Game. Yes, Shell Game. All you do is pick which shell the pearl is under, betting more and more money each time. Hardly enthralling. The next cheapest island is Big Beach Island, and completing that unlocks Parasail, an easy action game where you guide a parasailing monkey through a brief level as he collects bananas.
Some of the games are entertaining. Puffer Popper, Cascade and Water Words aren’t without their merits. But they’re very basic games, and there’s nothing to really make them special. Puffer Popper often has backgrounds which obscure the trail of bubbles you have to eliminate, or have items on the screen that you can’t tell are obstacles until you hit them. Cascade is a fairly typical match-3, where you have to match fruits before icons freeze, but there’s really no sense of motivation or accomplishment. Water Words is probably the best of the three – its a word game where you make words by connecting letters in bubbles to letters next to them.
Others are lackluster. Coco Bowl and Parasail are two of them. Coco Bowl is a bowling game, where you roll a coconut at bottles positioned at the end of a sometimes moving or populated (depending on the difficulty) pier. But, the controls are far too sensitive. You can end up unintentionally rolling the ball before you’re ready, or sending it careening in the wrong direction. Parasail has you using the stylus to drag the monkey around the screen, collecting items and avoiding obstacles. Its incredibly easy, and quickly loses your interest since you don’t have to work that hard to navigate levels, or even defeat bosses.
Then, there’s the shameful. I’m talking about the Shell Game. I guess I just still can’t fathom including the Shell Game when it isn’t really a mini-game. Its more like a micro-game. I’d expect to see it as a three second segment in one of the WarioWare titles, not as an actual attraction in a mini-game collection.
Tropix also isn’t very pretty. It doesn’t sound all that good – its filled with generic, tropical musak for the background music. The graphics seem muted at times, and don’t really look appealing. In the case of games like Cascade or Solitaire, it can be difficult to keep track or see the icons on the cards or tiles.
I also had some problems with the touch screen controls. It wasn’t in all the games, for example, controls in Water Words, Shell Game and Puffer Popper were fine. I did have some troubles in Coco Bowl and Jungle Jump. Like I mentioned earlier, Coco Bowl has extremely touchy controls, and it can be difficult to perfectly release the ball. As for Jungle Jump, it can be difficult to gauge the proper motion to make the monkey leap from one vine to the next.
If Tropix cost $19.99 or less, I’d probably be willing to be more lenient on the title. But, it costs $29.99. For that price, you’d expect things to be more polished and the best games available initially. I’m surprised, since the PC version of Tropix is $19.99.
To be honest, I preferred the PC version of Tropix. Somehow, it seemed better than the DS port. If you really are in desperate need of a mini-game collection, and don’t mind a generic gathering of average games, then Tropix is a viable option. Otherwise, I don’t see Tropix as being worth it, unless there’s a price drop to $9.99 or $14.99.
Images Courtesy of RealArcade.