20 cents per game better be worth my money...
Touch screen mini-games have been one of the biggest fads since the release of the Nintendo DS because not only are they easy to make, but they’re also really fun when done right. Take Super Mario 64 DS for instance: The game is purely just a remake version of the original 64 version (touting much better graphics, 30 new stars, and gameplay amongst four characters rather than one) but one of the other great selling points of the title was the fact that it included a plethora of touch screen mini-games to go along with lengthy adventure. These games, though more enticing at the game’s launch due to their ability to show off the control scheme, were great additions to the game’s appeal and certainly sapped several hours from me.
In case you haven’t had your fill of compilations, mini-games, and the like over the past four and a half years of DS gaming, Atlus and Nordcurrent have provided yet another slew of touch screen based mini-games for you to hopefully waste hours of your time on. But they also leave us with many questions that hopefully will be answered, including quality of the titles included, variance of gameplay from mini-game to mini-game, as well as whether or not 101 games can actually keep you hooked for a reasonable amount of time.
101 Games Created Equal (But Not Priced Equally)
As you might have guessed, there isn’t much more to this game than a list of mini-games to choose from The minimal format consists of a coin based currency that is used for buying mini-games in which coins are earned according to your score in each game, as well as bonuses for completing games as well as breaking high scores. Players begin with 10 unlocked games and must unlock the rest of the 91 games, each of which costs more as you move down the tier of unlockable titles. At first, this seems a bit daunting due to the fact that some of the later games seem almost unattainable if merely by testament to the amount of coins earned in the earlier games but in reality, unlocking a game is as simple as completing the game before it (your reward for doing so is more than the amount of the next game in line).
The game progression obviously leads towards the notion of more difficult/more fulfilling games being the higher priced ones. However, if you are inclined to believe this (as just about any human being believes that more expensive=better quality), you’ll sure to be let down; not only are the later games no more difficult than the earlier ones, they’re also no better quality. This is my first (minor) quip about the title as a solution would be to make each of the games the same price, purely to not create a sense of anticipation for progression of quality and not live up to it.
101-in-1 does do a great job of being simplistic and user friendly, however. From the get go, you’ll easily understand the basics of the game and each mini-game includes about as detailed of a description as you would need to understand the gist of the respective game (these aren’t very complicated, so even without the descriptions, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of it).
101-in-1 Not-So-Explosive Minigames
I wasn’t too impressed with the controls of some of these games. I liked the fact that the games tried to use the touch screen as much as possible but I wasn’t too fond of only using touch screen controls. If you look across the line of innovative systems, a combination of controls almost certainly works better than purely the innovative control by itself (after all, we have been using controllers for 25 years of gaming and it doesn’t look to end any time soon). Take the Wii for instance: most of the time when 3rd parties mess up, they get too wrapped up in the motion controls and try to use them unanimously, which always turns out to be unintuitive. The same has happened with the DS over the years; take WarioWare Touched! for instance. This game was clearly the worst of the handheld WarioWare titles and this is almost undeniably because it solely used the touch screen and no other controls. WarioWare Twisted!, on the other hand, featured rotational motion control but also utilized typical button presses along with this motion. Thus, you had some of the most creative ideas imaginable for the series and in my opinion, the best title in the series.
Another issue I had with the controls was the fact that at many times, they were either not accurate or unresponsive. One game that comes to mind is juggling the soccer ball (which was darn near impossible due to control issues). I had wondered what other critics felt about controls and it seems that the soccer ball mini-game was mentioned more often than not as a testament to bad controls. And, if not unresponsive controls, the fact that they are all touch screen based leads to some awkward controls at times as well.
Also, though the title would lead you to believe so, the game just never really wows you in any fashion. Sure, the games are expected to be minimal, as mini-games are purely about score based systems and nothing more. However, I can think of a 101 better mini games on the market (touch screen or not), many of which are free (via dedicated internet sites) but a lot of which are in similar format. Sure, many of these games are enjoyable and the variance factor is there (each game is pretty different from the others included in the mix) but there really aren’t any show stoppers that would make you inclined to buy this title over any other out there.
For instance, the abovementioned Super Mario 64 DS includes many titles that are more enjoyable in my opinion but also includes a completely separate and quite lengthy adventure game all in one package at just $10 more than the MSRP of this game. My personal favorite example, WarioWare Twisted! (this is a GBA title but you can play it on your DS or DS Lite), though harder to find nowadays aside from online retail, include more polished games with many more features.
Thus, in order for a current game in this overdone genre to be a worthy purchase, you would almost definitely have to have either a knock-out library of mini-games or a unique presentation to target the large portion of Indie gamer fans out there. 101-in-1 Explosive Megamix does contain a wide variety of mini-games but none of them are ones that will keep you addicted for large portions of time. Also, the presentation is only enough to not get in the way and thus doesn’t have any appeal in itself.
Another point to consider is that points based games thrive from both popularity as well as online community/points records. What fun would a points based game be if you had no one to compare your scores to? In this current online gaming frenzy, handheld games are not even omitted from the online discussion anymore and a recent game of this nature almost certainly needs online support to keep gamers interested (note that the above three games do not have online content but this is because they existed before Nintendo Wi-fi connection was up and running). Even some sort of download play would sweeten the game’s appeal but 101-in-1 includes neither this feature nor online functionality.
Finally, you would think that a game with 101 mini-games would entail that you would at least have a fairly lengthy experience at your hands. However, if you consider that there are 101 mini-games, each of them only take around 1 minute to finish, and that you’ll probably only play each around an average of 4 times, this leads to somewhere around 6-7 hours of overall gameplay to be had (assuming you’re not excited to play the games over again, as I wasn’t). And because the game is entirely mini-game based, there really are no other features or modes to play around with to lengthen the experience.
101-in-1 Explosive Megamix had me excited to play a wide variety of mini-games but in reality left me bored after only a few hours of play. I enjoyed being able to unlock new games throughout my experience but did not like the fact that their price had no indication as to their difficulty or worth. Also, after unlocking every mini-game, I had no motivation to continue playing any of the previous mini-games. Even still, none of the games stand out as “explosive” and the lack of online functionality makes vying for high scores nearly impossible. If you’re looking for a varied experience, this game has it but don’t expect to be blown away like some of the best titles in the genre.