Review: 101-in-1 Explosive Megamix

101in1_boxart.jpg Mini-games and the DS go together like peanut butter and jelly, and there are certainly enough mini-game collections to go around. The latest, Atlus USA’s 101-in-1 Explosive Megamix, doesn’t really offer anything new, but tries to make up for the lack of originality with sheer quantity. The results are as mixed as you’d expect.

Here’s how Explosive Megamix’s 101 included mini-games break down: 10 or so are fun enough to draw you back for repeat playing. Then there are probably around another 10 or so that are just terrible. And then the rest are somewhere in the middle — challenges you’ll enjoy the first couple times you play them, but aren’t interesting enough to really sink their hooks into you. Altogether, it’s a reasonably entertaining package.

You start off with only 10 games unlocked, and by completing those games you earn coins to then purchase the remaining games, repeating that process until you’ve unlocked the entire collection. The sheer variety of included games is pretty amazing. There are match-3 puzzlers, logic puzzles, memory games, 2D shooters, and a bunch of sports-themed challenges like volleyball, soccer shootouts, air hockey, basketball, darts, archery, curling and so on. You’ll also find Sudoku, a jigsaw puzzle, skydiving, pen-and-paper Battleship, bomb diffusing, safe cracking, and various clones of old arcade and carnival games like Tapper and whack-a-mole.

All of these games are quick-hitting – most have 1-minute timers – and require simple flicks and taps with a stylus on the touch screen. So it’s a game you can pick up and play anytime, anywhere for minutes at a time, yet one that can also hook you in for hours as you play “just one more game.”

Unfortunately, the interface and presentation are lacking. All of the 101 mini-games are lined up in a scrolling horizontal menu, with only three games visible on the screen at any given time. Problem is, there’s no way to sort or categorize games to make them easier to find. You are forced to scroll through the entire list to find the game you want. As for the presentation, the menus and 2D graphics are colorful and appealing, but overall the game has a very generic look about it (the music is bland too). It’s missing the charm of games like WarioWare and Cooking Mama, plain and simple.

Another annoyance is the multi-card requirement for playing the multiplayer mode. Mini-games like these beg for single-card play. The game itself is already a tough sell, so forcing players to have two copies basically renders multiplayer useless.

101-in-1 Explosive Megamix is a neat little time waster of a game. But sadly it has no personality or originality – two things I never thought I’d find lacking from an Atlus game — to distinguish it from the gajillion other DS mini-game collections, and is hurt by a few too many poor design choices. This game is a fun play, it’s just missing that extra something special to put it up with the best the genre has to offer.

TryIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Some fun and addictive mini-games
+ Satisfying unlock system
+ 101 games for $20 is a pretty good value

Cons:
– Poor menu structure
– Doesn’t have any distinguishing charm or personality
– Multiplayer is multi-card only

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: Atlus USA
Developer: Nordcurrent
Release Date: 4/21/09
Genre: Mini-Games
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players:1-2

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!