Choosing a game for the entire family is a lot like planning a vacation. Puzzle fans would like to relax by a mountain lake while fast-paced arcade fans are most likely scouting out the ski slopes. Fortunately, just about everyone loves the beach and Tropix is an oasis for all gamers. Plus, you get to bring along a monkey!

An archipelago of unique game islands, the Tropix world holds eleven individual games in one gamer’s paradise. Puzzle fans will enjoy matching exotic fruits in Cascade, a match-three challenge of strategic swapping featuring explosive power-ups while word gamers can search for the highest scoring words in Water Words. For the “extreme” gamer, there’s Jungle Jump, an adventure through the Tropix rainforest where swinging from vine to vine is the only way to avoid giant spiders and carniverous fish. Puzzlers who prefer a little more action will want to try Puffer Popper, a pretty good variation of one of the most popular casual games models today: fire colored balls at the oncoming line to clear them before they reach your sand castle. And, of course, there’s the ultimate quick break – computer solitaire. But this is just the beginning. There are uncharted islands in Tropix and as you play more games are there to be discovered. Parasailing, Sudoku, and even a, “keep an eye on the ball” shell game are just some of the extra diversions to be found. Every time you play your score and progress earns you sand dollars which are central to advancing in the game.

You and your primate pal begin your adventure on Outset Island. Although your journey begins on a small speck of land surrounded by the sea, this is merely the first stop of five destinations that include Mystic Island and Sunset Lagoon. In order to move to the next island, though, you must satisfy your monkey’s desire for food, comfort and fun on each one. But, in order to do that, you’ve got to go shopping and the Tropix Trading Post only takes Sand Dollars. Featuring Sombreros, Beach Balls, Tiki Torches and more, each Tropix location contains unique products to help you meet your monkey’s needs. Once you’ve purchased an item, place it on the beach, sit back, and watch as the monkey and his friends explore and play.

Tropix is undoubtedly the premier bargain in casual games. One download able to deliver eleven variations on the most popular games today is a heck of a deal. The games are quick, easy to learn and play, and feature a well-detailed tropical theme. The graphics are state of the art and the stylized characters make for whimsical fun. The Tropix Trading Post is full of quirky items and a screensaver featuring the islands you created and your monkey is an excellent addition. Really, just watching your monkey roam the beach and play with everything you’ve given him is pretty fun.

But, ultimately, Tropix is suffering from a lack of focus. The games are very basic versions of games already on the market and, in their simplicity, have not been given the attention they would have had they been created as unique challenges rather than as part of bigger package. As a result, they tend to be missing the nuances and polish that can be found in many other titles. Although it is possible to earn enough sand dollars to advance in Tropix playing only one or two of the game types, those with a more specialized taste for games might want to look elsewhere. There are more intricate, challenging, and rewarding versions of all of the games in Tropix.

For the family looking for a break that everyone will want to be a part of, though, there’s no better option than Tropix. It delivers quick fun at a fantastic value, is easy to get lost in, and is appropriate for all ages. Now, I’m off to the Coco-Bowl; monkey wants a barbeque.