Review: 3D Game Collection (Nintendo 3DS)

3D Game Collection (Nintendo 3DS)
Publisher: Joindots GmbH
Developer: Mastertronic
Genre: Puzzle
Release Date: 12/20/2012

3D Game Collection is a collection of purportedly 55 games that anyone aged 3 years and up can enjoy.  The game’s design is definitely geared more toward children; however, an adult could find him- or herself devoting time to the game as well. There are help screens which do a decent enough job of explaining most of the games for anyone who isn’t familiar with them or who don’t understand how this game has changed the original games up from their real-life counterparts. So really, anyone should be able to pick it up. But does it stand out as an exemplar of casual games? My answer: no, especially not for six dollars.

This game suffers from false advertising. It is true that this game is a 3D game collection, but generally speaking, you’re focusing on the bottom screen, so much so that the 3D feature is kind of pointless, and in some cases (like during Spot the Difference) can actually hinder progress in the game. While there are technically 55 games, as advertised, there are only 25 types of games: 4 in a Row, Backgammon, Bingo, Card Solitaire (actually more like Free Cell), Checkers, Chest Mover Mania, Chinese Checkers, Code Cracker, Dice Five, Domino, Find Mines, Find Pairs, Jigsaw Puzzle, Kakuro, Ludo, Mahjong, Match 3, 9 Men’s Morris, Peg Solitaire, Pipe Shift, Ship Encounter, Sliding Puzzle, Spot the Difference, Sudoku, and Token Wangle. Even within each of the 3 themes (space, pirates, and I guess picnics), games repeat; for example, there may be two jigsaw puzzles in a theme. It would have made more sense to just have a Jigsaw Puzzle icon and then let people pick the puzzle they’d like to complete, so I’m not really sure why they laid it out so inefficiently, other than to inflate what it looks like the game offers.

The games themselves work well enough for the most part, and most of them are instantly familiar to anyone who played any kind of family games–like Mastermind or Dominoes–growing up. I hate sliding puzzles, so I stayed far away from them other than to see how they worked in game, but I completed the other game types extensively. For some reason, they decided that giving people trophies based off of time spent or points earned was something that was necessary for the game, but I barely bothered with it. The only people you could compete with are (up to three other) people who create a profile on the game anyway. To expand upon this point, there’s no multiplayer support for this game in any sense of the word other than “Hey someone else made a profile on this game, so we can kind of compare trophies.” This game offers a perfect opportunity for multiplayer functionality, seeing that there are definitely multiplayer games in the selection, but the computer is not the most entertaining opponent, and this game suffers as a result. For example, in Checkers, the computer made the same first three moves almost regardless of what I did. In other games, anyone other than someone experienced with the game is going to lose because the AI takes no prisoners. While experienced players might love the challenge, younger players and beginners at any particular game will likely quickly get frustrated. Multiplayer would help this a bit, as beginners could play with their friends in order to hone their skills (and actually have a chance of winning on occasion) until they felt confident enough to beat the AI. Really, the ball got dropped as far as making this game replayable, as once anyone gets a gold trophy in a game (assuming you even care about them), there’s no real reason to go back. Adding in the ability to play with other people really would have strengthened what this game could offer, and I say that as someone who generally likes my gaming experiences to be single player.

There were some issues with controls in some of the games as well. The worst offender was possibly the Bingo clone, unfortunately called Beano, because if you hit the wrong spot, the game would act like you wanted to skip the number and move on. This wouldn’t be so bad if the game worked like real Bingo, where if you were slow getting one number on the board and the announcer had moved on, you could still put a counter on that number. In Beano, this is not the case. In fact, if you take too long to find the tiny number hidden among, not one, but three boards you’re simultaneously playing and you hit the screen, it skips the number you were on as well! Oh, and since you can’t really tell how long you have left to find the number, if you hit the skip button at the same time the number was set to change, you would basically skip two numbers. It sounds like it would be a rare occurrence, but it happened to me more often than I’d like to admit. Other games have similar issues; for example, there really isn’t any room to work with when doing puzzles or playing Dominoes (there’s this thing called a zoom option, people), and the numbers you use to fill in the board for Sudoku are closer than they need to be for the way they’ve set the game up. Still, most games work well enough, assuming you’re an adult and therefore presumably have better fine motor movement.

In the end, this game is overpriced for what it offers, which is no real 3D aspect to speak of, a falsely inflated number of games (some of which are riddled with issues), and no multiplayer support. While the graphics and sound are charming (though the music can get annoying) and you can tell the developers really wanted to release a solid-appearing title, that isn’t enough to save this game from what could have been an awesome collection. Of course, I’m not really sure what I was expecting from a game called simply 3D Game Collection.

Short Attention Span Summary
3D Game Collection costs $5.99, which to me is a bit steep for the amount of variety and quality that the game offers. Honestly, I’d only recommend this if you need to get a kid something but have absolutely no idea and the kid hasn’t been good enough to get a full-fledged gaming title. In the end, this game is overpriced for what it offers, which is no real 3D aspect to speak of, a falsely inflated number of games (some of which are riddled with issues), and no multiplayer support. Of course, I’m not really sure what I was expecting from a game called simply 3D Game Collection.

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