Games for Lunch: 101-in-1 Sports Megamix

Posted by Kyle Orland (September 29, 2010)

Games for Lunch chronicles the first hour of a different game every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each hour ends with the answer to the only question that matters at that point: Do I want to keep playing? For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions.

Developer: Nordcurrent
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2010
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official web site

In a nutshell: Quantity over quality.

0:00 The idea of packing 101 sports mini-games onto a single DS cart just strikes me as inherently ridiculous. My equally ridiculous mission: To play and write about all 101 in an hour... or die trying. Aaaand, go!

0:01 Wasted precious seconds creating a file and skipping a dated-looking intro movie. Volleyball makes me turn the DS sideways to move my player left and right using the stylus. Ridiculously simple and already boring. NEXT!

0:02 In Bowling I fling the ball from the bottom touch screen to pins at the top of the top screen. The ball rolls like itís going through molasses, hitting the pins and knocking them straight down with almost no pin action. NEXT!

0:03 Boxingís direct overhead perspective reminds me of the old Atari 2600 Boxing game. Move with the d-pad, tap the touchscreen buttons to punch. Kind of interesting, but no time to delve deeper! NEXT!

0:04 For some reason, when my character hits the ball in Tennis, it goes directly out of bounds to the right every time. I donít have time or interest to figure out why. NEXT!

0:05 Surprisingly, Horse Riding uses button controls rather than the touch screen. I hold right on the d-pad to run, then tap B to jump over hurdles with a ridiculously floaty jump. These horses are jumping the equivalent of ten feet in the air easily. NEXT!

0:06 Darts has me flinging darts from the touch screen up to a moving target on the top. It has red concentric circles instead of actual dart scoring zones. I canít imagine a less faithful recreation of the actual game. Clay Pigeon shooting is more faithful, with a dotted line sight from the bottom screen to flying discs at the top. I have to lead my shots a little to get the timing right. Nice mindless entertainment there. NEXT!

0:07 In Javelin I tap a couple of foot-shaped touch-screen buttons to put my guy into an awkward run. He eventually throws his Javelin parallel to the ground where it lands 90 meters away. That was pointless. NEXT!

0:08 It takes me way too long to figure out the timing of the touch-screen swimming controls. Note to the developer: tapping on-screen buttons with a stylus is not as easy as tapping real buttons on the system. NEXT!

0:09 I spin the stylus around my guy in Hammer Toss to build up speed, but it takes me three tries to realize a second tap actually gets him to throw it. WarioWare Touched did it better. NEXT!

0:10 Wow... all 91 other mini-games are actually locked, requiring points earned in other games to unlock. And quitting out of the game early seems to have robbed me of any points I may have earned. OK, letís take it a bit slower then and go back through some of these from the top.

0:11 I just noticed my Volleyball girl has a somewhat modest belly-hiding tank top, while my opponent shows off her bare midriff. That skank.

0:12 Why in the world does the game make me turn the DS clockwise to play this game. In that orientation, my right hand naturally covers the right-side screen, which I need to see to view my opponent. Was this game designed by sinister left-handed people?

0:13 Iím getting the hang of reading the opponentís shots as they pass through that weird nether-zone between the Nintendo DS screens. The AI is horribly inconsistent, taking some rallies to 15 hits, and losing some on the serve with no real pattern.

0:14 At 15-5 in my favor, the match is blessedly over, giving me enough points to unlock Noodling, which is a sport Iíve actually never heard of.

0:15 Noodling is apparently about diving to catch fish bare-handed, then throwing them up to the surface THROUGH THE WATER. Itís the most ridiculous thing Iíve ever seen. Here itís barely passable as a video game. The strategy in its entirety: Sneak up on the fish from above to avoid startling them. NEXT!

0:21 Just finished ten horrible frames of possibly the worst bowling simulation I have ever played. The fact that the pins just drop dead in place, combined with the slow-as-hell ball, combined with the inability to add spin, combined with the weird-ass scoring system that gives hundreds of points per pin rather than keeping score like a real bowling game just leaves me tired.

0:23 At least Bowling earned me enough points to unlock Pool. Right off the bat, I canít believe that the game uses two on-screen rotation buttons to aim the pool cue, rather than letting me just tap on the overhead view of the table to move the dotted-line sight. This game needs an interface designer so badly.

0:25 While waiting for the computer opponent to finish his turn seems like a good time to talk about the annoyingly repetitive jazz groove in the background, and the low-res graphics that look like they belong on one of those cheap-o games that plug directly into a TV.

0:27 Wow, the computer actually made a very strategic shot, just tapping their ball to place the cue ball in an inconvenient position.

0:29 The match comes down to the eight-ball in the end, which is actually just an unlabeled black ball here. Despite the wonky physics and hard-to-read angles, I pull out the win and earn enough points to unlock Table Tennis AND Mini Golf. HOO YEAH!

0:31 OK, Table Tennis seems fundamentally broken. It looks to my like the opponentís shots are flying off the end of the table on my side, but he end up scoring the points. My paddle is right there, in case the ball bounces, but it doesnít seem to matter. I canít believe this made it past testing. Assuming there was any testing.

0:33 Mini Golf features a guy with a driver on the touch screen, hitting chip shots at a set of five holes on the top screen. Has anyone involved with this game actually played mini-golf before?

0:35 Back to Horse Riding to earn some easy points. Now that I know to use the buttons instead of the touch screen, I win easily. Maybe Iíll build up some points here before moving on...

0:36 Awww, my second time through Horse Riding I donít earn the 16,000 point bonus I got for my first win. So much for that plan.

0:38 Polo is best described as a ďPolo putting challenge.Ē From the bottom screen I aim an arrow at a set of polo goals, timing my shot to avoid some horses galloping randomly across the top screen. The key to timing seems to be shooting just after horses appear, which I figure out on my second try. NEXT!

0:41 Curling is the most insulting simplification of a sport Iíve yet seen on the cartridge. Thereís no opponent, no sweeping, no actual curling... you just flick the stones towards the circular scoring area, earning more points for stones that end up close to the center. Very sad... the sport deserves better.

0:43 At first I think Flying Disc is about playing catch. Nope, itís actually about flinging the disc as fast as possible to get it by the guy on the top screen, while catching his flings by quickly tapping them. Seriously, have any of the developers actually played frisbee before?

0:45 So if my angle is too sharp and the disc hits the edge of the screen, it just freezes in place and makes me re-do the throw, wasting precious seconds off the countdown timer as it does. Incredibly stupid.

0:47 Basketball turns the DS to the side again, asking me to fling the ball from the touch screen on the left to a rim on the far right. The ball frequently simply drops pointlessly instead of actually arcing towards the basket, and the rim is so incredibly bouncy that shots constantly pop out of the basket after theyíre more than half-way through, and thereís a frustrating wait for the ball to bounce back to my touch screen after I miss. Still, itís one of the better games Iíve played in the last hour.

0:51 I finally master Basketball on my fourth try when I realize perfectly straight, Shaq-style shots are the most efficient. Sigh.

0:54 Badminton might be my favorite game so far. With the DS on its side again, I move my racket freely around the area above my side of the court, automatically knocking the shuttlecock back over the net when it meets the racket. Itís not exactly deep, but the multiplayer mode could be fun... if I ever found anyone else who owned this game, that is.

0:56 Rally may be least realistic car game Iíve ever seen. Me and an opponent automatically accelerate along a long, straight desert track, collecting giant stars for points and hitting dirt ramps for a quick speed boost while avoiding sticky spots. Mildly interesting until about halfway through my first race.

0:58 Tug of War involves tapping on-screen buttons that represent the muscles of my two tuggers. This makes them pull an infinitely long yellow rope, inching the opponents on the next screen towards a big, checkered goal area. Incredibly boring, in the end. Time for one more game!

1:00 Speed skating isnít the standard ice skating version, but rather a rollerblade race along a straight track. I can avoid the frequent hurdles by my character up and down with the stylus, but tapping the screen to jump is actually worth more points for some reason.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? I am not a kid trapped in the back seat of an hours-long car ride with this game as his only companion.

This review was based on a retail copy provided by the publisher.

Check out hundreds of archived Games for Lunch reviews on the official Games for Lunch blog.

I've been writing about video games for 17 years now and for some reason they're still paying me


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