Review: 40-in-1 Explosive Megamix (Nintendo DSiWare)

40-in-1 Explosive Megamix
Publisher: Nordcurrent
Developer: Nordcurrent
Genre: Compilation
Release Date: 02/09/2012

Compilation packages, if done right, can be a really great idea in concept. After all, who can argue with the value of getting multiple games for the price of one? It’s for this very reason that Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is one of my favorite things I own for the Xbox 360, as many of the games on there I’d have gladly paid individually for. Of course, not every compilation can contain games of that length or detail, nor have the same kind of nostalgic value that would come from playing it. Games like the Wii Sports titles manage to have enough contained within that at least a few of them will stick for most people. As long as you can hit the mark with some of the games in your collection, it can be considered a win for the compilation.

Which brings us to Nordcurrent’s 40-in-1 Explosive Megamix. A collection of 40 games is certainly an impressive amount to bring to the table for $8, provided that at least some of them make their mark. So just how does it fare?

Before I get into the meat of the collection, let’s take a second to talk about the presentation. Visually speaking, it’s not too shabby for a downloadable title. Every game in the collection has a theme that it follows, be it slime monsters playing basketball in the sewers or robots delivering teddy bears onto a conveyer belt. I have no idea why the characters are doing the kinds of things they are doing in their respective universes, but after awhile you just learn to go with it. Most characters has disproportionate features, but they look appropriate enough within the context of the game. The backgrounds for some of the games are fairly detailed, which is impressive considering how short some of the games in the collection are. There are others where it seems as though the same care wasn’t given, such as the game where you have to try to surf around poo water and the character you control is just a yellow dude on a yellow surfboard. He looks kinda like the Silver Surfer except banana colored. A few titles aside, most of the games are not an eyesore, and that’s certainly a bonus, even though it doesn’t really matter for games like these.

There are no announcers, and while there are a few sound effects depending on the game, they are pretty minimal. Most of the time, you’ll be hearing the same few tunes looping over and over again at random throughout the whole game – and the songs are utterly grating. Music may not be the most important thing in a collection like this, but you’ll still want to turn your speakers off and listen to something else as you play.

As for the games themselves, they range from somewhat tolerable to completely broken. You have ten games unlocked from the start that you can choose to play in any order. Depending on the score you are awarded, you may “complete” the game and it will have a green check mark on it indicating you met the minimum requirements to get a passing grade and are awarded bonus points. These points can then be used to unlock the other 30 games in the collection.

There are a few problems with this setup. First of all, 75% of the game should not have to be unlocked. I don’t have a problem with the concept of unlockables in of itself, as it gives you something to work towards as you play through the games naturally. However, most players are going to find a single game that has the biggest point payout and play that exclusively until they obtain all of the games in the collection. In my case it was a minigame where I had to throw garbage into the neighbor’s yard and am awarded points at regular intervals depending on how many bags of garbage I unloaded on them at any given time. The rest of the games, I played maybe one or two times and never touched again.

Which brings me to my next point. There was no consistency in terms of how many points you can earn in an individual game or what their requirements were. Some games were considered cleared once you meet the end objective, such as the one where you had to shoot all the targets. Others, like the one where you are a paper cutout trying to fall to the bottom without fans blowing you into the sides, made you feel like the victor once you made it to the bottom, but it’s not actually complete until you collect so much money on the way down. There’s almost no margin of error that you are allowed as opposed to others where I managed to get through it without even realizing what I was doing.

Once you beat one of the games, unless it’s good for providing a lot of points, there’s almost no reason to go back and replay any of them. You can try to go back and top your high score, but many of the games have caps on the number of points you can win anyway. Also, some of them don’t work consistently enough to want to go back and play them again. There was a minigame where I was a clown on a pogostick and I had to jump up and collect stars. In one instance, the game had me jumping at maximum height even when I wasn’t pressing anything and in another, the jump button wouldn’t work for me at all. Other games, like the aforementioned garbage throwing game that I grinded points with, forced me to play with the touchscreen exclusively without giving me the option to use buttons. This meant I couldn’t throw things when I was at the top of the bottom screen since there was no room to drag my stylus and it would instead move to wherever I tapped the screen. The tutorial screen that lays out your task for each game is of no help either, as it is rather vague on what exactly you have to do. Most games I had to figure out for myself what needed to be done while others I had tried a couple of times to understand it and eventually just gave up.

It’s a shame too because while most of the games on the collection didn’t break any new ground in terms of what hasn’t already been accomplished in a Mario Party game, there were some interesting ideas at work here. If the controls were more responsive or even customizable, this title wouldn’t have been such a burden to play. And without added difficulty settings or even some rewarding reason to play outside of unlocking the next game, I had a hard time finding any sort of enjoyment in the experience. The $8 asking price for this game equates to about 20 cents a game, which sounds like a great deal in concept. But there’s an old adage that talks about the importance of quality over quantity and never has that been more apparent to me than after playing 40-in-1 Explosive Megamix. Perhaps picking out half of the best ones and adding more depth to them would’ve been the best move in this case.

The Scores
Story/Modes: Poor
Graphics: Decent
Sounds: Dreadful
Controls/Gameplay: Bad
Replayability: Dreadful
Balance: Poor
Originality: Mediocre
Addictiveness: Dreadful
Appeal Factor: Poor
Miscellaneous: Mediocre

Final Score: Pretty Poor Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
Look, I like the idea of 40-in-1 Explosive Megamix. Giving the consumer 40 games for a measly $8 sounds appealing in concept. The problem is, none of the games in this package are particularly good or memorable. I’ve found maybe a few that are entertaining enough to try and meet the completion threshold for them. Unfortunately, you’ll find that most aren’t worth playing more than once, much less enough times to try to complete them, and the fact that you have to unlock 30 of the games doesn’t do much to inspire enthusiasm. Unresponsive controls, a grating soundtrack, and some broken gameplay combine to make a package that’s just simply not recommendable, especially at that price point.

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