Enthusiasts obsessed with Big Buck Hunter and other popular arcade games now have a stay-at-home option that doesn't require buying pints of beer at the bar or stacking up quarters to play. Thanks to the advent of "plug and play" games, the old-fashioned gamer can connect to a TV without a game system like a Wii or XBox.
To see what the experience was like, we tried out Big Buck Hunter Pro ($39.99 MSRP), Star Wars Republic Squadron Motion Flight (29.99) and Retro Arcade Pac Man ($19.99), all from Jakks Pacific.
Let's just say that, at best, you get what you pay for.
These games are fun, but before you can get started there are a few steps. First, you have to scrounge for batteries. Sometimes lots of them. Big Buck Hunter requires four AA batteries for the rifle and three AAA batteries for the sensor you put on top of your TV. So if you're thinking about buying one of these games, add a few bucks to the price to account for batteries you'll have to buy, unless you tend to stockpile them at home or have rechargeable batteries on hand.
When you get to the actual playing, you'll find that, not surprisingly, game graphics aren't at all that sharp without a dedicated console like you have at a bar, and it's especially noticeable on a 42-inch TV like our tester machine.
As for the games themselves, this is what we found:
- Big Buck Hunter was almost PG-13, despite the arguably violent nature of the setup. There was no blood spatter when animals were hit, but there was a squishy sound as they fell to the ground.
- The Star Wars Flight game, which is made popular by Star Wars collectors who reminisce about old space flight games, had an annoying delay. Quick steering moves weren't picked up right away, so good reaction time is an asset if you want to get good at this game.
- Retro Arcade Pac Man game consisted of a small, arcade-style box with a joystick, A and B buttons and a mock coin-return button that takes you to the game's menu screen. The game itself is just like the old version, and it was definitely worth it just for the nostalgia factor.
The most disappointing, even troubling thing about these plug and play games, however, was the cord. In a wireless world, being attached to one is a turnoff, but even worse, just to get the rifle working properly, we had to stand about eight feet from the TV. That was uncomfortably close to the actual length of the cord and one false move could topple your television.
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