Are you ready to touch the master? Wait...
While I don't think there are many hardcore gamers out there who would go out of their way looking for Touchmaster 3 for the Nintendo DS at their local game shop, there are probably plenty of DS owners who might pick it up at a Target from one of the budget displays, or as a gift for a younger gamer. Unfortunately for Grandma, this is one Christmas gift that won't get a lot of, err, touching.
[image1]WB Games has packed 20 games into Touchmaster 3 (wait, there was a Touchmaster 2?), and while each mini-game might not be worth the price of admission, there is enough variety to guarantee that the the sum of its parts makes up for any weaknesses in the mini-game lineup. There are card games, action games, puzzle games, and word games to choose from and a handful of them aren't even half bad.
Poker Slide is a sliding puzzle game that has you arrange scrambled card slides into the poker hands represented on the top screen. Of course, the beginning is mind-numbingly easy, so easy it'll make you wonder why you're even playing the game (that's not to say... don't smite me GR gods!). Eventually though, some of the higher difficulty levels will have you scratching your head.
Fuse Line has you trying to trap bouncing sprites, drawing squares to the edges of the game board until the sprites or the game board space is all cornered away. If a sprite hits a line before it's drawn in, you'll lose a life and have to try to draw it in again. It's another not-particularly difficult or engaging game, but it works
extremely well as a time-waster.
[image2]Slime Assault can be summarized as an extremely shallow tower defense game. Slimes creep towards you from the top screen and you have to lob bombs at them from the bottom. Some of the larger slimes require multiple hits and even once you've killed them, they'll split into two smaller slimes. I found myself cursing at my DS when the difficulty ramped up unexpectedly. I quickly found myself panicking as I progressed through the levels.
Cannon Fire is a lot like Worms in that you have to manage the type of projectile, trajectory, and power of your shot, but it's not like Worms in that it throws endless amounts of Slimes at you to feed your high score. What did the Slimes ever do to you?! I probably played Cannon Fire for an hour after Thanksgiving, though, so that has to say something about how fun this mini-game is.
Sea Words and Wild Words are the only two word games included, but I'm a total sucker for word games in general so I played these a bunch. Sea Words is basically just a hand-cramping device that has you steering a fish around with the stylus, picking up letters to fill the blanks of a challenge word. Wild Words just has you switching letter tiles to pack as many of the challenge words into the game board as possible before taking points. Neither of these games are particularly fun or deep - very disappointing.
[image3]Touchmaster 3 is a fully competent mini-game compilation that packs a fair amount of variety into a small cart that can be carried around and played opposite something that takes a bit more brainpower, though it obviously doesn't do much other than provide variety. It's also about as deep as the kiddie pool and can only satisfy someone with the attention span of a five year old (what does that say about me when I play Cannon Fire for an hour?).
If Nintendo stole half of the games in this cart and repackaged them with the usual Mario or Pokémon veneer, they'd probably sell one with every DS a grandparent bought for a kid this Christmas. Instead, Touchmaster 3 is probably going to sit on a shelf somewhere. Only pick up Touchmaster 3 if you want a "chaser" or something to let off a bit of steam.