Review: 101 in 1 Sports Megamix (Nintendo DS)
by Aaron Sirois on December 22, 2010

101 in 1 Sports Megamix
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Nordcurrent
Genre: Minigame Collection/Sports
Release Date 09/14/2010

It’s hard to look at this game and not remember the old handheld devices that claimed to contain five hundred games. I had one as a kid and was pretty excited to play it. Of course, I found out that most of those games were barely noticeable variations of about four or five games types. It was inevitably a letdown. So, when I saw the cover for this game, I was expecting more of the same.

Thankfully, I was wrong about this game. It does, almost legitimately, have one hundred and one different mini games to play around with. Sure, there are a few that are near carbon copies of each other, but for the most part there is a lot of variation.

But does that make it any good?

Modes

There are really only two options in the game: a single player game and a multiplayer game.

If you’re going solo, you start off with ten different games based off a number of sports. Right away you notice some staples like Volleyball and Tennis. The other ninety-one games are locked. To unlock them, you need to play. Each time you play, you earn points that also serve as your high score. If you reach a predetermined score, you can also unlock a huge cache of bonus points. When you’re at the game select screen, it is as easy as tapping an unlock button to purchase a new game. Once purchased, the price is replaced by your high score. It is a pretty basic setup, and it makes it so you can unlock the games you want in the order you want.

There are some huge oversights. For starters, you can’t preview or read about a locked game. There’s no way to know what style of game Baseball will be. Will you be playing a nine inning outing, running the bases, or is it simply a home run derby. You won’t know until you unlock it. Once unlocked, you can read some instructions that relay the controls and goal of each game. Sadly, even these are vague and often don’t explain the situation completely. I still have no idea how to play the drifting game. Another issue is that you can’t customize your games in any way. You can’t chose an avatar, set a score limit, or change venues. While understandable given the sheer number of minigames, it forces a lack of depth on the game that makes it hard to get into.

Perhaps the biggest omission is the ability to search for a desired game with any degree of functionality. The games are seemingly listed in a random order. It isn’t alphabetical, nor will you find any theme to the order of things. If you want to play a particular game, you have to slide slowly over to it, which can take a while because only a small handful of games are visible on the screen at any time. It makes finding your favorite game a chore, which is never good.

Multiplayer is a strictly multi-card affair, so I didn’t get to try it out. I do know that a good number of the games are available for this mode, but that you aren’t likely to get much use out of it because of the problems I mentioned before (and more to come). What fun is it if you can’t chose your own character or fiddle with the settings to a make a longer (or shorter) game? It is nice that the option is there, but the fun it offers is limited.

Overall, there are plenty of games to play to be sure. However, a poorly implemented menu system combined with a lack of customization options spoil the sheer intrigue that having over a hundred different games to try offers.

Graphics

Considering the game focuses on sheer quantity of games, you’d expect graphics to be an afterthought. In that regard, you’d be right. The game on a whole is maybe a step above those annoying flash ads that task you with swatting a fly or something equally simple.

To start with, most of the human figures in the game are blank slates without faces or personality. There are some exceptions. For example, the games representing weight lifting and arm wrestling have expressive faces, but this is mostly a form of function rather than style. The strain on your opponent’s face as you slowly grind his arm to the table is mostly there to show you how well you’re doing. These games stand out, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Tennis is the worst of the bunch with figures that aren’t really recognizable as humans.

The biggest thing going against this game is a complete lack of interesting animations. Matches often feel like games of Pong with larger characters, but little to no lifelike movement. It makes the game boring to watch in motion.

One good thing the game does is make full use of its color palette. Colors are bright and cheery, and there are plenty of them, making most games look at least aesthetically different from each other, even if they’re functionally similar. This great use of color is all that’s saving this game from receiving a near lowest score possible.

There are uglier games. That’s the best you can say here.

Audio

There are a number of nifty little tunes in the game that play randomly from one game to another. They’re mostly high temp bits that are meant to accentuate the action. They’re not particularly memorable, but they’re at least halfway decent for background purposes.

The rest of the aural package is pretty much nonexistent. What sound effects exist are extremely cheap sounding and uninteresting. It proves once and for all that presentation wasn’t a focus for the developers. I often ended up playing with the sound off because there was no benefit to keeping it on.

Gameplay

101 in 1 Sports Megamix is designed so that each game makes use of the touch screen, and just about all of them use both screens. You’ll also have to occasionally hold the DS sideways like a book. You’ll be able to tell which way you need to orient your DS by looking at an icon on the select screen.

As far as how well each game controls, I’m not going to list every sports title and how each of them control. That would take up way too much time and space here. If you really want a full list, it’s readily available online. I will say that the game tries to keep things simple with you rarely having to do more than make easy gestures or circles. For many games, you’ll hold the stylus down on your avatar and direct them to where you want to go. Other games, such as boxing and pro wrestling, take direct control out of your hands in favor of onscreen buttons that you tap.

Most of the games are playable, but aren’t very fun. For example, volleyball merely has you moving your character to the ball. They’ll automatically hit it back as long as you’re close. Sure, it’s simple, but it pretty much sucks to play. You can’t do anything but bump, you can’t aim the ball in any way, and there’s no way to alter the speed of your character. Worst of all, this is one of those games that require you to hold the DS sideways. This means that the ball will fly between screens. More often than not, you’ll have to simply guess what angle the ball is coming at, and by the time you realize your mistake, it will be too late to recover.

Other games suffer from a complete lack of depth. Take Pro Wrestling, for example. You don’t directly control your wrestler, but instead give him prompts to follow on the touch screen. The only attacks you have available are punches and kicks. You can’t grapple, go to the top rope, use weapons, or anything like in even the most basic of wrestling games. Worse still, you don’t even pin opponents. You simply beat them into a state of unconsciousness. Pool is another example here. While it plays all right, there’s no depth. You only have standard eight-ball rules, you’re automatically preset as to what color you’re supposed to target, and there isn’t any penalty for pocketing the cue ball. There are a good number of better pool games on the DS.

Then there are the flat out unplayable games. Tennis is the worst game of the bunch. You have vague, blocky characters that you control with the stylus. You’re supposed to drag the player to the ball and chose the direction you want to hit it back by the direction and angle you come at it from. The problem is that you’ll almost always just bump it at an extreme angle that knocks it out of bounds or into the net. It just isn’t possible to react as fast as the game demands. Heck, even the AI can’t do it. As such, every game devolves into a bunch of aces and faults. It’s unbelievable. They took the most basic video game, PONG, and managed to screw it up!

This game sacrifices functionality for simplicity. It was a big gamble and it didn’t pay off. The games are nothing but poor, shallow, and unfun representations of the real thing. The best of the bunch would probably be air hockey, and that’s only because the controls actually work.

Replayability

There are one hundred and one games! Any time you get bored with a game, there are three digits worth of other games to play around with. This game has near endless replay value! Right?

Wrong.

Most of the games are throwaways. You’ll play them once just to see what they are. You’ll end up getting the high score and therefore have nothing left to do. The game isn’t fun, and you’ve already beaten it. All of this took maybe a minute of your time.

It took me a few hours to play through everything, but that was because I started out determined to beat each game before I moved on. The only reason this strategy was taking so long was because there were several games that were nigh on impossible. I still can’t score any points in the drifting game, and I’m certain the high score is actually impossible to reach in boxing.

You’ll get at most a few hours out of this game. And even that will be conditional on your enjoyment and/or determination.

Balance

I’ve already gone on a few rants about how some of the games are impossible. Let’s just recap here, shall we? There are games I haven’t figured out how to score a single point in, let alone beat. Scoring strikes in boxing is already hard enough, but it gives you so few points that you can’t reach the goal. I’ve played the wingsuit game probably a dozen times. Each time, I get farther and farther, scoring more points, but I still haven’t come anywhere near the goal.

Some games make it impossible due to ridiculously small margins for error. In Olympic Handball, you’ll need to pretty much make every shot to pass, and the game is so poorly designed that this is harder than it should be to accomplish. It just gets frustrating after a while.

Still, getting that top score isn’t impossible. In fact, it is sadly easy for more than half of the games. At the time I’m writing this review, I’ve beaten seventy-five of the games. Many of these were beaten on the first try without having read the instructions. Some I didn’t even understand and I was able to win. Others, I did horrible, but the game was so broken that it didn’t matter. The Foosball table practically played itself, and the points almost always went in my favor. It was bizarre.

There are maybe a small handful of games that offer a proper challenge and have reasonable goals. The problem is that they still suck.

Originality

I don’t want to bother wasting time on this section. This is nothing but the typical mini-game shovelware that publishers have been throwing on the Wii and DS for the past four years. On top of that, most of these “games” are the kind of thing you’ve played on the PC for years. You know those little flash ads that pop up all the time? That’s what these are.

That adds up to a score of Worthless.

Addictiveness

I’ll admit that I was slightly addicted at first. I didn’t know how each game would play out and there were ninety of the darn things to unlock. Curiosity overcame me and I pushed on just to see what the game had to offer.

This feeling lasted all of ten minutes.

Once you realize that none of the minigames have anything to offer, you’ll be hard pressed to pick this game up, let alone struggle to put it down. At this point, I can’t see myself ever having the urge to pick this up at any point, even to play for a minute or two.

Appeal Factor

Well I suppose there are some people out there that like these kinds of things. On the surface, it seems like you’re getting a heck of a deal. This game has a hundred games all in one little cartridge! How awesome is that? To top it all off, the game is only twenty bucks, which will seem like a bargain to some.

For experienced gamers, they’ll know to stay away because they know these things are never worth it. As such, the only group this game will appeal to are those who don’t know better.

I’m not going to reward the game with a high score for that.

Miscellaneous

For a game that contains a hundred and one different options, how weird is it that the game doesn’t offer cricket, hurdling, shot put, or any gymnastics outside of the trampoline and some juggling acts, but offers air hockey and Foosball? (Not to mention about a dozen games that require motorized vehicles.)

Way to screw the pooch on that one guys.

The Scores
Modes: Dreadful
Graphics: Bad
Audio: Very Poor
Gameplay: Dreadful
Replayability: Very Bad
Balance: Worthless
Originality: Worthless
Addictiveness: Dreadful
Appeal Factor: Awful
Miscellaneous: Worthless
Final Score: Dreadful Game!

Short Attention Span Summary

101 in 1 Sports Megamix sounds too good to be true. It is. The game suffers from several inane decisions, such as an awful menu system, an over-reliance on touch screen controls, and a focus on simplicity rather than depth. We’ve all heard the expression “quality over quantity”. I just wish the developers of that game took that saying a bit more to heart.




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