This Nintendo-published WiiWare game is one of the best single-button games I have ever played.
Published by Nintendo and developed by Japanese company Mindware, Maboshi's Arcade is a unique puzzle game with one goal: score a million points at the behest of the robotic Mr. Maboshi. When playing by your lonesome, Mr. Maboshi appears, requesting that you help him to get to a million points over time. However, this simple goal is much more complex than it sounds because there are three different games that can be played cooperatively with up to three players simultaneously. These three games, all named after geometric shapes, are chosen by each player and can be played in any combination.
In the circle game, you control a ball as it rolls within a circlular area, attempting to dodge obstacles and ram into enemies. The ball is always moving, and by pressing the A button you can alternate between right and left turns. It starts out simple, but as you progress through the many different stages, the obstacles get more obstructive. The obstacles can not harm you; they only impede your progress. They range from small circles attached to rope to floating platforms that can be knocked around. The game ends when one of the enemies escapes the circle.
The stick game, the most confusing of the lot, might initially remind you of the import-friendly GBA game, Kuru Kuru Kururin. You control a stick rotating around a ball by using its momentum to rise up past each stage's goal line. The stick pushes off in the direction that it swingsThe stick seems to randomly change speed and direction, which makes the game even more challenging. The A button triggers movement, but you'll only move at the whim of momentum. Along the way, there are tons of enemies and even the occasional boss that are defeated by a swat of your rotating stick. There are power-ups that give you the aid of a pinball, which can be knocked around to destroy enemies, or invincibility. The game ends whenever the ball at the end of the stick is struck by an enemy.
The third and final game, Square, does not use the A button like the other two games, but instead employs the use of the D-pad as you control a trail of fire. The game is turn-based: time progresses and the screen scrolls up with each move. The goal of the game is to explode all of the boxes in a stage. To explode a box, all you have to do is graze it with your line and it will eventually ignite. Adding fuel to the fire are bombs which can either aid or kill you depending on whether or not you get caught in the bomb's flame. Personally, this is my least favorite of the three games, mainly because of how slow-paced it is.
Adding another layer of strategy is how players affect their opponents' games. For example, if someone playing Circle knocks an enemy in the direction of someone playing Stick, it can knock out enemies in the stick game. Similarly, the stick player could go up against the wall of someone playing Square and ignite blocks for them. And since each player's game is separate, if one player dies, he can just restart while the other players continue. Although the game is nothing more than a high-score challenge, this style of cooperation extends the length of the game by opening up an intriguing multiplayer aspect. The multiplayer could only have been better if it had online play.
The combined effect of the three games is a mix of intuitiveness, extreme difficulty, and confusion. Since all three games more or less use one button, each is very easy to pick up and play. While they all are difficult to master, the three games are very fun and employ a lot of strategy akin to difficult one-hit kill shoot-em-ups. For example, Stick and Circle both require twitch reactions to avoid being struck by enemies or letting them escape.
In addition to the main game, Maboshi's Arcade allows players to use their Mii to record their high scores, and also offers a complete DS version of game via DS Download Play. The DS version is fully featured for one player, only with far simpler graphics. Sadly, DS scores cannot be transferred back to the Wii.
Maboshi's Arcade is another in the line of quirky Nintendo-published WiiWare games with simple controls and great gameplay. Even though the difficulty is high, the variety amongst the three games and its DS Download Play make this title great.