Nintendo knows the type of audience that purchase their products. Game developers know what type of games appeal to that audience. In light of these two facts, it is obvious why there is an abundance of puzzle games for the Nintendo DS. Such games are easy to pick up and play on repeated occasions.
That brings us to Touchmaster 3. As the name indicates, this is the third iteration in the series. Contained in the little DS cartridge are twenty different games to appeal to the puzzle lover in everyone. How does it fare? Is it worth your gaming dollar?
The games are grouped into five categories: Cards, Strategy, Action, Puzzle, and Word. You’ll find a nice variety of games within each type from which you can choose. Since they do cover such an array of genres, it’s easy to find a number of them that will suit your style. Variations on poker games and the classic Pipe Dream and Qix show up in the roster.
Each game has three degrees of trophies that awarded for reaching high scores. Do well and get the gold trophy. On top of that, there are five badges that you earn for accomplishing various feats in each game. If you collect the gold trophy and all five badges, you will be awarded 25 wizard points. The “end game” is basically fighting for all of points in the game to be called the Grand Touch Master.
These awards are the biggest let down in the game. The badges can get you to try something different and interesting but rarely succeed. Much of the time they are extremely easy to obtain which make the few that present a challenge stand out. A number of the games you’ll only need to play once to get all 25 wizard points. What if a certain amount of points unlocked a new game? Or different music? Or built in cheats? The points do none of that and end up making you feel like the developers missed the point.
The music and sounds effects are good enough to not detract from the experience, but you’ll be just fine with the volume off. The menus are well laid out, responsive, and clean. You can pause each game at any time, but the pause screen does not display the trophies or badges for the current game. The good controls carry over to most of the games. Dragging cards and tiles is easy. Tap the stylus to the screen and the game responds instantly.
One notable exception is Bumperball. It’s basically a version of pinball that replaces the flippers with one round bumper that you drag using the stylus. In theory it sounds very fun but it falls flat on it’s face. The physics are almost completely missing. The ball will move through your bumper too often. The ball can get stuck bouncing around at the top of the screen.
Touchmaster 3 also allows you to share the experience with a friend. Play head-to-head with a fellow DS gamer even if they don’t own the game. There are a number of options available for download play so your friend can get a feel for the action. To be honest, there isn’t much of a reason to play against someone as other titles allow for a much rewarding multiplayer experience.
Reading through this review, you should be left with no strong feelings for or against the game. In some respects it is very well made and shows heavy promise. In the end, though, there isn’t too much to set this game apart from so many of the other options on the market. If you liked the first two iterations in the series, you won’t be disappointed. Everyone else should wait for this to hit the $10 or less bin.