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101-in-1 Sports Megamix (DS) artwork

101-in-1 Sports Megamix (DS) review


"Tennis’ failure doesn’t detract from every game, and you could argue that when given such a large number of sports to partake in, there’s always going to be some duds, and you’re always going to be able to skip over some events and still have enough points locked away to attempt everything. The problem is that there are too many mini-games that play out like the failures than there are the successes."



101-in-1 is starting to become a bit of a franchise. They’re everywhere. They’ve shown up on the Wii, the PSP and the DS. And then the DS again: today, rather than retread their previous incarnations of a huge pile of bite-sized off-the-wall mini-games, Nordcurrent have opted to focus instead on a host of sports games.

It’s a mistake.

I found myself pleasantly surprised at 101‘s earlier, less focused efforts for exactly the opposite reasons than I was disappointed with Sports Megamix. Then, the majority of the minigames were quick snatches of creativity and borderline insanity, and it worked. In both titles, you played the minigames to unlock further ones and, then, you played because you had no idea what was coming next. Here, you know what is coming next: a poor sports game.

Such as volleyball, which asked you to hold the DS book-style, then use the stylus to nudge your beachwear-clad girl back and forth so they can swipe at the ball automatically. It’s an imprecise method that relies less on your ability to spike powerful shots across the net and instead on the equal incompetence of your opponent who’s just as apt at wandering away from the arcing ball as you are, sans the relatively valid excuse of an awful control scheme.

I bring Volleyball up for two reasons. A/ because it’s the first game on the menu and, so, is likely your first point of visit and B/ because it presents the middle ground for the 101 games buried within. It’s a ham fisted failure, but does retain some small glimmer of playability.

On the higher end of the spectrum are games like Pool, which functions as you might expect a DS version of the sport to, and does so at a level above a lot of stand-alone functions can only glare jealously at. The punch line? Though it’s implemented well, it doesn’t even bother to adhere to the rules. Hitting an opposition colour means no penalty; sinking the white has no penalty. Potting the opposition colour does give them points, but it’s almost begrudgingly.

Boxing could have worked, but splits the ring in between the two screens, meaning slugging it out in the middle presents a huge slice of the action is cloaked by the machine’s hinge. Unless either fighter is on the ropes, you fight blind. Noodling is an odd sport where you scuba around a fish-infested stretch of water and hurl the helpless animals out to their deaths, You control the swimmer by pointing where you want them to go and, if you happen upon a poor, doomed fish, he’ll grab it about 50% of the time.

Other games are plain unplayable, and so we’ll end things on the upcoming bitter rant about how bad a simple game of Tennis is. Rather then subscribe to some kind of functionality, Nordcurrent are completely obsessed with the idea that everything must revolve around the touch screen, so you control your player with stylus prodding. You also control the direction of your shots the same way, leading to what would me a comedic tragedy if you didn’t need to beat the game to unlock more sports to fumble. Run right across the by-line to reach a ball played corner-to-corner? Get there in time and, because you’re committed to the right, you’ll smash the ball out of bounds. Knowing this already, the game tries to make amends by opening up the entire court for you, so a singles game is played effectively the exact way a doubles would be. It makes no difference: you’ll win the sets you serve with because, with a little practice, you’ll offer up a string of unstoppable aces, but that’s more or less it. Any points you’ll score receiving service are computer errors or dumb luck.

Tennis’ failure doesn’t detract from every game, and you could argue that when given such a large number of sports to partake in, there’s always going to be some duds, and you’re always going to be able to skip over some events and still have enough points locked away to attempt everything. The problem is that there are too many mini-games that play out like the failures than there are the successes. And, when you do find a success, it feels more like a case of 101 monkeys at a typewriter.

Rating: 3/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (November 16, 2010)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Masters posted November 22, 2010:

Nice job, Hartley. A quick, fun bash review of a shitty collection of 'games'. Were you sent this? It seems unlikely that you went out and bought it...
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EmP posted November 22, 2010:

Thanks, Marc. It was indeed one that was sent to me, though I expected better. I recently did a 101-in-1 game for the PSp which was worlds better.

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