Seven different sports and there's still nothing good on.
Mini-game collections are nothing new for the DS. With Carnival Games
, Clubhouse Games
, Deca Sports
, and even Mario Party DS
, there were so many dumped on Nintendo's portable that for a while, it was hard to root through and find any that were actually fun
(like Clubhouse Games
turned out to be). So with two screens and the 3D capability, should the newest dual-screen platform be any different? Why, it's totally
different… now you can play with two
styluses, which it conveniently comes packaged with! Joy!
Dual Pen Sports
is, right off the bat, misleading: You can't actually use both styluses at the same time. The 3DS screen can only read one point at a time, so using them too close together will make your system freak out and yell at you (not really, but it would make the games exponentially more entertaining). Holding a stylus in each hand - if you're not already ambidextrous - is just odd, and because of it the game has
to be played on a flat surface. If the game did anything special with the 3D look that would be just fine, but making your ugly, blocky little fella pop a little isn't worth the potential headache later.
But they're sports! Sports are filled with action
! And these… well, there isn't any action. Most of the contests are simple timing games (with the timing the same every time), and only paragliding and skiing actually have any "action". Paragliding is as intense as it can
be: Slowly moving forward and hoping to find and use an updraft to keep yourself afloat while you aim for quickly-moving gems around cartoonish cliffs. The slow pace keeps it from getting interesting and, even sped up, it's still painfully - painfully - slow.
Slalom isn't much better and actually makes me more nervous because of how often and how hard players need to poke at the bottom screen for even slight adjustments to turn and maneuver. It might be fun if it used the gyro in the 3DS, but then it wouldn't be using two pens, and… y'know, trying to be fun and stuff.
The other games are mildly amusing for a time, but they get old very quickly. Remember how most people stopped playing Wii Sports
when they found bowling to be the only redeemable game? That's bound to happen here, though the game might be different from person to person. Archery, a simple "here are your arrows, hit the target" high-scoring contest, is amusing because of the wind that affects the arrow in flight; soccer (done in shootout style goal kicks) gives otherworldly control to the player over the ball, but has a few touchy control issues that keep it from being reliably playable. The others are hit-or-miss, with some being far too easy and predictable (boxing), some just being boring from their simplicity (basketball's H.O.R.S.E-like shooting doesn't even need a second stylus), but all are simply bland and uninteresting.
When in doubt, though, there is always multiplayer… and of the seven games available for single-player play, only four are available for head-to-head matches. Only four. And none
of those are the games that might be fun fun
playing against friends. They're all simple high-score contests: baseball, soccer, archery, and basketball. Why not boxing? It would make total
sense to have a boxing match between friends wirelessly! That's the one I could see as some fun with a bud - a strategic fight between two goofy-looking, jagged-polygon-wearing Mii knockoffs - and it's completely absent.
There are also what are called "Tap Exercises" to help with coordination and I guess improving a player's ambidexterity, but the simple exercises (and again, the fact that the 3DS screen can't track two styluses tapping the screen at the same time) aren't compelling or notable at all. Even the option of "Today's Challenge" is simply a no-challenge task to earn points, or "Athli", which unlocks faces or hairstyles in the create-a-character that is already so… boring. There just isn't anything here to be interested in, almost like it it was planned that way. I don't know how exactly to castrate a game of fun, but here's what's left of the procedure.
Much as I try to look for a silver lining for Dual Pen Sports, sometimes there simply isn't one. This ain't fun past a few minutes trying each game, and once it sinks in that it's the same thing over and over again with a few slight variations on common themes that thread through, the strategy for play will be finding a way to return it to the store to any money spent on it back. Please, anybody publishing games about sports, listen to me when I say this: There's a reason why Nintendo packaged Wii Sports into the box to start. There's a reason it was free. And at least those were truly interactive, with real multiplayer, and surprisingly well done; meaning, they weren't just an obviously cheap cash-in. C'mon, we all deserve better than this, no matter how slim the pickings are for the 3DS right now.