Ahhh, good ol’ resale shops and the like, as I’ve gotten quite a few good gaming deals out of them. One visit in particular a couple of years ago resulted in three Sega Genesis’ (one original model, two of the second, both of which I sold, and two out of three of them work, since I didn’t have a working RF box for the second models, so I couldn’t say for sure if those worked or not), two controllers, two games, an RF box (with the out wire cut, unfortunately), some various odds and ends and a Targus carrying case for only $20 U. S. total (which is insane, since the Targus bag probably cost dozens of dollars new ALONE!). I also got a Sega 32X with the box, RF box, and most of the attachments for only $2 a year later, which was also pretty crazy (good ol’ ignorant resale shop people when an item doesn’t have a price on it!), plus it was also good to back up my 32X.
Likewise, the price tag on this unit was only $4, which...well, it’s hard to sum up how this went, actually, since I spent a crapload of time going through all the games for a write-up on a plug and play wiki (plugplaytvgames.wikia.com/wiki/25_Games), as I think this unit got the best of me, which you should be able to figure out why.
Anyway, the DreamGEAR company has -- among other items -- made many “Plug ‘N Play” consoles over the years (as of this writing, in 2013, they’re up to a 140 games in 1 unit right now). Their 25 in 1 unit was released in 2003 or 2004, which I am pretty sure this is a pirated version of, due to having most of the same games (I’ve seen YouTube videos in regards to the real thing) and the title screen was altered, removing the copyright date and DreamGEAR logo and such (tsk, tsk). There’s also no company name to be found as to whoever made this, plus the actual unit itself is an exact copy of another unit called the vs. Maxx 10 in 1 Casino Game, except the molding is a different color (double tsk!).
As far as the unit itself goes, it has a reset and start/pause button, the a/v cord to connect to a device to play the games on (tv or whatnot) is pretty luxurious, being over seven feet long (which is about the only good thing about it), it runs on three AA batteries, its got the obligatory D-pad, and the action buttons have two redundant spares each in case either of the main buttons wear out or you prefer using the shoulder buttons (although none of the controls respond real well in general, so does this really matter?). The menu is pretty standard, as you press left or right on the D-pad until you find a game that you want to play and press start, and that’s pretty much it.
Now, after that lengthy background intro, are the games worth the wait with all that build-up? Hell no! Take a look!
Bingo Zap–good lord, how boring! You control a ball on a screen filled with several holes; when one hole flashes, that’s where you move your ball into. You’re just given several holes over and over again without any increase in difficulty, like no obstacles or moving stuff to delay you before you run out of time or anything. Please, try harder next time with a simple, boring concept!
Birdie Nest–what a weird, terrible game! There’s a bird overhead and you must avoid its poop and catch its eggs. Only thing is, you have to keep your hand underneath the bird at all times; if the bird strays too far from the dotted line leading from it to your hand, the bird will drop down to the ground and the game will end. Say what?
Catch the Egg–many birds fly overhead, dropping eggs that you must catch, but you have to avoid bombs that will kill you. This would be easy except they gave controls like the Vectrex game Hyperchase, making it no fun at all due to the control. I quit without even playing through one entire game.
Dart Champion–I can’t really rate this one, as I could be missing something without the instructions. What the deal is, multiple clay pigeons quickly fly across the screen and you have to fire at the appropriate time in order to destroy them. You can’t do much in regards to aiming your gun, as one button has you shoot left, and the other right; other than that, a cursor slowly rises to the top of the screen, then jumps like crazy as targets come into range (which is kind of hard to describe here in print). If you don’t score enough points during a round, the game will end, which always happened to me. I would say this game was just too challenging, but then these games were recommended for the ages five and up (which I’ll get to at the end), so I doubt that. But who cares either way? This unit is awful.
Dragon Fire–freakin’ Christ, how many MORE “snake” games will be made until the end of time? You’re a dragon that eats balls of fire, and you grow with every ball you eat; you must clear 20 in each level to pass without hitting a wall, obstacle, or yourself. Nothing new here...
Elfland–this starts out good and different, but as per usual, gets to be the same old, same old. You control some *thing* where you’re pursued by other things in this platformer. You must jump on a house (or something) to change your color, then hit the creatures that are the same color as you to remove them from the game. Its just the same thing over and over though, unfortunately, not getting any harder as you go through round after round after round. “Snoreland” is a closer description of it, really.
Excel Racing–here’s a game that I liked long enough to play two entire games of (several games were so awful I never played an entire game through!), but even it was screwed up. Like the arcade classic of Rally-X (or New Rally-X) that it was ripped off of, you maneuver a car through a scrolling playfield, collecting flags while avoiding pursuit cars (which I’ll admit is more satisfying to stop them with a rock on this version, unlike with a smoke screen on the original). Unfortunately, your car moves fairly slow, and the instant you let up on the D-pad it stops, which is annoying. Too bad, as this is one of the very few games that I somewhat enjoyed for a whole 10 minutes (or so) total.
Fire Fighter–THIS is a bit different, and a halfway decent game, although it’s a bizarre take-off of the old games of Clowns from the arcade and Circus Atari for the Atari 2600. What the deal is, there’s burning buildings, and you control two guys with a trampoline that must keep a fire fighter in the air; every time he makes contact with a window, the flames will die down (what a magical, dangerous job!). He also has to rescue victims in the windows as well. This game was cool at first, but once you get through all 10 stages it just cycles back to the beginning; drat. This showed promise, but ended up flaming out due to the low difficulty level (plus this is reportedly a pirated version of the Famicon game Flying Hero, by the way).
Fish Catcher–bizarre, fast-moving “twitch” game where you control a hand at the bottom of the screen while fish jump out of the water above. You must catch as many fish as possible within a minute by moving the hand and pressing a left action button to extend the hand upwards (huh?) to catch a fish. You don’t catch enough during a round and you lose a life; also, if you catch an apparently evil black fish, you’ll lose a chance there as well. The premise isn’t bad, but this isn’t much of a “catch” (sorry, and this is one sorry batch of games on this unit!) of a game since it gets old quick.
Golden Arrow–here’s another one I can’t really judge, since, again, I don’t have the instructions and I couldn’t get far with it at all. You have to shoot arrows (actually they’re darts) at a moving target, racking up as high a score as possible in order to qualify for the next round, but if you don’t make enough points, the game ends. However, whenever I hit the target, it usually looked like I came close to the bulls eye, but then on the onscreen indicator my “arrows” were actually far off (note: the target is shown from the side, then one area of the screen shows where your arrow landed). I never made enough for a second round, so maybe I’m missing something, but just about all of these games are missing something, like many improvements to making them into good games!
GP Race–this reminds me of the arcade classic of Spy Hunter, just without the fun. You start off with 99 units of fuel and have to avoid other vehicles and rocks that litter the raceways; hitting either of these will cause your motorcycle to crash and use up a bit of fuel before a replacement cycle appears. It gets old fast, as barely taking a hit has you careening off to a fiery death, which is what should’ve happened with this 25 Games unit in the first place.
Grass Cutter–wow, doesn’t the awesome name make you really want to play this game? Of course not! It’s just one of several in a line of crappy, non-grabbing game titles (as well as crappy games), as this one requires you to cut 100% of a lawn’s grass on every level. There is no possible way to die unless you run out of time, which I never have played a full game of this, it was just so boring! Good comic relief, though, is a super fast moving rain cloud of doom that will instantly cause a new patch of grass to appear, but relief doesn’t save this game at all (nor any of the others!).
Jewel Master–take a wild guess what this one’s about. Yes, match three jewels in a row to remove them from the screen (like Sega’s Columns). With every 80 jewel pieces collected, the next level begins, which you’re rewarded with a bomb that will destroy everything of the same color that it lands on. It takes several levels until it starts speeding up, and the programming’s such a joke that there’s a pause in between matching three, the rest of the jewels on the screen falls down a notch, and if three MORE underneath the ones you originally matched ALSO match up, you get another pause there! I’m serious! This is pretty sad, really.
Last Cabra, Aero Engine, Bolt Fighter, Star Ally–these are all lumped together because they’re pretty much the same game, just being scrolling shooters. Last Cabra gives you the same enemies (plus one boss) over and over; it’s ridiculous! Bolt Fighter is a little better, even though it gives you the same enemies over and over (again), but also a crapload of power-ups and different bosses, at least. Star Ally’s the best of the bunch and THE only game on here that I actually played for a few weeks. Pretty much everything was done right with that one, as there’s only four stages/bosses at the end of each, and it has a somewhat decent ending, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. As far as the rest go, though, learn how to make a decent scrolling shooter that can stand out against a bunch of clones from over the last 25 years, please.
Motor Rally–this is a racing game where you must avoid other cyclists and roadblocks that appear on the track; colliding with either will instantly grind everything to a halt and you’ll lose time until you can get back to racing again. The game gets annoying with the instant stops (do the roadblocks have some kind of powerful anti-motorcycle magnets or something?) so you’re not going to want to bother with this race (along with probably any of the others!). This was somewhat improved with VR Racing (which you’ll see later), but not by much.
Move Fun–another very gripping game title (not), but maybe it’s short for “Move onto something else that’s actually Fun, like a bunch of games on the older, but still more superior Atari 2600 or Sega Genesis”. This is one of those millions of “match” games where you match three objects in a row (at least) to remove them from the playing field. I’m sure you can guess how the rest of it goes from there, and especially how I’m going to end this by saying it’s not that great, and with the millions of other similar games to this, you can find a better one elsewhere (this is becoming pretty predictable by now as a review!).
Pinball Track–oh good, a pinball game! Uh, no it’s not. Too bad, that might’ve helped. Well, if it’s not pinball, what IS this exactly? It’s a bit of a different oddity, as you go through these tubes to collect a key and make it to the exit. Only problem is there’s holes or something that destroys your ball on contact, and it’s hard to judge if you’re going to make it through certain tubes or not without getting killed, as the holes look to be the same size; you can’t tell if you’re going to make it or not by looking. I didn’t feel like trying to figure out which paths were safe and which weren’t, as I was getting pretty tired of playing crappy games at this point and gave up on this promising premise, and upon doing research on the actual legit 25 in 1 unit, I found out this game only has four levels, but I never took the time to try to figure my way through them.
Push the Ball–this is somewhat like air hockey, but it takes a while to build up speed to compare it to that, as you push a ball towards your computer opponent. The more times you push it forward and the computer knocks it back without a goal being scored, the faster the ball becomes. It takes 15 or 20 goals before you move onto the next opponent; I quit my only game of this after getting to the second level, it’s just as boring as its boring name (yet again!).
Sea War–like an old arcade game where the name escapes me (could be Depth Charge), you control a ship at the top of the screen and you drop bombs at ships below while dodging their fire that comes up at you. This is one of the fastest games on the entire unit, along with it having some of the best, most colorful graphics, but it gets old quick, its just one long level that will eventually end when you run out of ships. Too bad...
Ultra Doggy–this is an interesting, and could have been a good clone of Frogger, but ultimately it is not. First off, you only have a few places where you can move your doggy out into the traffic. You move v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y...until you get the boot power-up, then things are better. At the top of the screen, you need to grab a key to unlock an area up there, then you have to go back and get another freakin’ key to get to the exit. At first this was good, but then you’re given very little space in between rigs (and you move too slow) to try to last for very long; too bad. This, along with just about every game on here, IS a dog (the irony).
VR Racing–this is almost the exact same game as Motor Rally except for a few differences, one being that you have to avoid puddles, rather than roadblocks that appear on the track (makes it easier and less annoying than having a roadblock stop you cold). The most obvious difference, though, is that you’ve got four different tracks this time around, along with curves in the road, which you’re warned with an onscreen prompt which way to turn beforehand, along with the additions of having brakes and different BACKGROUNDS to these tracks (gasp!). However, none of that really helps this game; I played through it once, beat it, and that was it; no looking (or playing) back for me, as per usual with many of these games.
Wison–this could keep you going for a while, if you like this kind of thing, but you shouldn’t play this unit (nor the official 25 in 1), so what does it matter? Anyway, the reason for keeping you busy is that Wison (whatever that means) has 54 puzzles to choose from to play, as you’ve got 200 units of time in order to figure it out: at right are several puzzle pieces that you must choose and make them fit into one completed puzzle in order to win the game. Once I completed a puzzle I never messed with this again; they can be challenging, but as per usual, I didn’t find this to be very fun. Ho hum.
So there ya go, there were a bunch of games I hated, several I liked for about five minutes before they got old, and only one I flat-out liked period (Star Ally), which is pretty sad. But then, these units clearly state on the box (at least the official 50 in 1 unit I had seen at Walgreens about a year and a half before I snagged this did) that they’re for ages five and up, so unless you’re either a hardcore game collector, no older than 12 and/or terrible at video games, I’d steer clear of these DreamGEAR units, as I’ve looked around on the net and many of the above game names appear on their current units, as they’ve just added more and more games from their older units onto their new ones.
This has been a rather *interesting* (but not good!) experience, as whoever was responsible for it (who deserves to be shot), obviously English wasn’t their first language, due to the “Engrish” in various games, such when you clear levels on many of them, it just says “win”on the screen. Also, people that you rescue in Fire Fighter are known as “guests” (huh? And it also kind of makes you wonder how much worse it gets if a printed instruction book was included with it, as I got this as is, with no box or anything), “Last Cabra” was originally titled “Last Cobra”, and plus the monstrously boring names of several of the games (among other things) make this a pretty epic fail.
I give this a pretty dismal 3 out of 10, and probably a point should be deducted from that due to it being a pirate unit, as pirates don’t deserve much credit due to them not making any of the games, but I’m just rating this thing as is. Even though the 25 in 1 unit reportedly ran off of Famicon hardware, you can still make decent games, even with yesterday’s technology (ending levels for Sea War would be nice, for instance, but noooo, you get one long, unending level, and that’s it), but that’s not the case here.
“Win” my ass. 3/10