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Coleco Mini Arcade Games... Reviewed!

On the outside looking in... these mini arcade machines may look like cooler looking versions of the old LCD handheld games, but leave your assumption here (dump them right in here).



Jazzed up LCD games, that's the assumption I was leaning towards before taking these min-arcade machines out of the shipping box. Before I present you with the reasons why I was wrong, let's unbox, shall we?

Let's start with Rainbow Brite: Journey To Rainbow Land

For those who don't know, Rainbow Brite is a TV series that was launched by Hallmark back in 1984 and quickly became a household name across the world. I had no idea Hallmark was behind the show but as a kid... I didn't care... I more so saw the toys and socks owned by my cousins.

Rainbow Brite was this cheerful character who used her magic belt to protect the colors of Rainbowland from the evil Murky & Lurky. This game delivers classic top-down RPG-style action.


Now on to Robotech!

I won't say that I was saving the best for last... but for me it is. Robotech was also a part of pop culture and emerged a year after Rainbow Brite. The anime (or Japanimation as it was considered by some at the time)... is a sci-fi franchise revolving around pilots and their mechs, which were created by way of alien technology discovered at a crash site. The technology was then used to take on alien invasions in the name of defending the earth.

This particular mini-arcade game is based on the initial Robotech: The Macross Saga... and delivers the experience as a 2D side-scrolling shooter where you take on the alien invaders.

These are far from the super limited old school handheld games from Tiger, and I had a slew of them. Fun at the time... but I'd never go back unless it were just to showcase them in an article (I even had a Batman game/watch back in the day). Gaming and I go wayyyy back.

Anyway, as far as quality goes... these are some durable little machines with full-color LCD displays. I probably wouldn't want to drop it from about 5 or 6 feet because it might end up with a crack somewhere, but I think the heavy-duty plastic shells would be able to take a small tumble or drop off of a table. The buttons are more like the ones on a gamepad... versus the actual arcade buttons, along with the little joystick of the same material, but they're fitting and... they accurately follow your movements + presses (they don't lag).

You get an on/off switch up top that works for the setup, along with a little speaker up top that reminds me of the placement on some full arcade machines. Down on the front left side, you get a headphone jack to the left of a volume slider. I won't get into the audio quality right now... I'll save that for the actual games.

Oh yeah, the mini-arcade machines are charged by a mini USB and... run on a lithium-ion battery pack. To give you an idea of the battery life, I've been able to play and beat Rainbow Brite several times without charging the machine.

One thing I want to point out about these mini-arcade machines... is the fact that (at least for me) I can hold them in my hand and play the games like I would a gamepad (or the old LCD games). Based on the game of the front end, it allows you to hold it with ease and use the joystick as you would an analog stick... and the buttons are right there for your right thumb to do what it has to do. So you can play them in two ways which is a nice touch.


Rainbow Brite: Journey to Rainbow Land is the same game that you'd play on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), so imagine that on the small screen which looks... okay. The game runs smoothly and if you're up for a dose of nostalgia... you should enjoy this game.


Robotech: The Macross Saga's visuals are a lot better... and give you multiple layers of visual goodness not only in the background (with this parallax effect) but also with your mech (when it's in flying mode). While going up or down you will see the top and the bottom of your mech, and you get little touches in the game like fire and even the dirt kick up when your mech's thrusters are aimed at the ground. I like these touches because they make the game more lively during your adventure.


When it comes to Rainbow Brite's gameplay... I got into the game after the first level. I'd probably say that I got more into it after I figured out where the heck I needed to go in the second level (a certain area may look like there is no way through it... but there is, just start walking and feel your way around from one opening to the next).

One thing I had to get past was the fact that you can't actually destroy any of the baddies except the characters in the boss fights. If you shoot baddies... they... just... sort of... freeze (momentarily), then it's back to the regularly scheduled programming (pun intended).

I won't even get into the music, I'll just say that I'm glad that I was able to turn to the volume down or off. It wasn't my cup of tea, but overall my experience with the game wasn't bad... I was able to navigate Rainbow Land, save a baby, a magical horse, a friend, and a sprite (now I'm thirsty)... in my journey to make the land a brighter place. I actually looked forward to taking on the boss characters.

If you find that you're getting your butt kicked and may have to start the game over from the beginning, no need trip... you can continue. Certain boss fights (where I took an L), I was able to pick up at the beginning of the boss battle.

I guess the ability to continue in this game kinda sort lends itself to replay value, but overall... the replay value is low. This is the only reason why the game would score at all, because if you're able to beat the game in one gameplay session... you aren't going to experience anything new. This is a collector's machine in my opinion and those who want to relive or want their children to experience a childhood game they enjoyed.

I'll be fair and say that you also have a hard mode in this game, but that merely adds more enemies to the level. It is what it is for the time it came out. If it were a game developed and released after 2020, I'd have a cow. You get 6 levels in the game.


Now on to Robotech. You will be playing the Macross Saga game... which is quite enjoyable. I really don't want to compare both games because games are expected to be different... but (but but but... but) for me, this game stands the test of time a bit better.

In Robotech: The Macross Saga, you're playing a side-scrolling shooter (aka Bullet Hell for some). You aren't just playing a slow-paced game, it's action-packed and challenging. You have your standard gun, as well as a limited amount of heat-seeking missiles that you use to take on the invaders.

Like any other bullet hell game, you also get powerups that allow you to change your gun and bombs for a limited time. One of my favorite powerups is getting support from fellow pilots who fly in to cover me from 12 and 6 O'Clock. You have multiple Mech mode types to switch to in a level in realtime... based on how you want to play. You can go from the jet to that half jet half mech (I know someone has a name for this), and of course the full mech. When you're in jet or that half mech mode... you're scrolling through the levels, but you're stationary in the full mech mode and it gives the game a different feel.

I don't know the benefits of being in full jet mode, because you can be hurt by touching the ground or a platform... but not in half mech mode. Maybe you decrease your hitbox with the full jet mode, but both of these allow you to only shoot straight ahead aside from utilizing those heat-seeking missiles. On the flip side, when you're in full mech mode you can shoot into any direction... and this ability is justified when you have to shoot the Zentraedi coming in from 9 O'Clock.

You get 10 levels in this game... but all are not side-scrolling levels, you also have top-down levels where you're walking around with a huge mech. This is a perfect segway into the replay value because you have options in this game that allow you to go back and enjoy the game again and again. You get four huge mechs to choose from in these top-down levels, which allow you to go back, again and again, to try out the different ones.

These huge Destroids are called the Tomahawk, Spartan, Defender, and the Phalanx. Each has its own speed, armor, and weapons power. The pilots have power, stamina, strength, piloting, and speed... but... the replay value is increased even further because based on your performance you gain EXP which allows you to further build up your ability.

To dive into the replay value even further... you have the character's that you're able to unlock. Not just one, or two, or three, not even four... but six unlockable pilots. Six.

To go even deeper into the rabbit hole... (I might need a rope to climb out because) you also have a co-op mode and a versus mode. I'm sure this is done by linking two Robotech Mini Arcades together. I don't know if you can link any of the other mini arcade machines with the Robotech for co-op play, but... if not... I think it is a missed opportunity to allow for a feature on all the units that allow them to be linked. A mode could be on all of these mini arcade machines that allow them to go into a certain mode where they're available to access another machine for co-op action (regardless of what their primary game is).

Overall, I enjoyed the experience in Robotech: The Macross Saga. It was challenging, engaging, it was fun, and... I'd go back to play it again even after completing everything just to see if I can play the perfect game (untouched) or just to get my fix of bullet hell action.

The music was okay, I didn't think to turn down the volume so it checks out. I also let my 3-year-old daughter play the games... and Robotech was her go-to machine also.


Price-wise, these mini arcade machines come in at $39.99... which is okay from a collector's standpoint. If I were to purchase one for this price, I'd buy the Robotech machine because the value is there. Rainbow Brite is a collector's item for me and I'd probably say that this game should be $24.99 because the gameplay is limited.

My one complaint about the mini arcade machines isn't the ones I've reviewed, it's the ones I haven't reviewed... which are the limited edition ones. I mention this in the price area because the limited editions come in at full game console prices. Some of you might say "Well they're collector's editions", and while that's true... that's part of my gripe. These are collector's editions, so... I would have loved to see more attention to detail on these.


I can't hate on the actual machines, but I'd probably give them a slight bump up in price (maybe $10 bucks at the most) for the limited edition colors. Here you see the Robotech Limited Edition Gold, and even if it looks cool, I'm not paying $199.99 for it. What I would pay (perhaps) between $99.99 to $149.99 for is an arcade replica of Robotech with an authentic joystick, authentic buttons, a rubber bumper around the machine, and perhaps a wooden body or a stronger aluminum body of sorts. 

The same applies to Rainbow Brite's Limited Edition Silver, which comes in at a jaw-dropping $249.99. I don't want to sound like a hater, but I need to see more to justify the purchase. I'd even go as far as throwing in a Rainbow Brite plushie. I can't say if anything else comes in these L.E. boxes... but there was nothing listed that told me it does.

Overall, (believe it or not) I enjoyed this blast from the past and I look forward to what else Coleco plans to bring back. There are plenty available now, so if you want to get your nostalgia on... check them out. I want to get my hands on PacMan.




Coleco's Rainbow Brite Mini Arcade Machine
 
Quality 5

Sound 1

Function 5

Price 3


3.5 out of 5 Cool Points


Coleco's Robotech Mini Arcade Machine
 
Quality 5

Sound 4

Function 5

Price 5


4.75 out of 5 Cool Points




This concludes the review, shout out to Coleco for supplying 
the machines... and I hope the constructive criticism
proves beneficial to Coleco + supporters.

Feel free to share the review, and until next time... game on!



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