Game compilations are nothing new. The most common compilations are older games emulated to play on the current generation of consoles. Sometimes a game series gets a compilation box with all of the titles included in a single package. What is less common is a game package created for a system with completely new games on it. We have seen something like this in Retro Game Challenge, but Atlus has tried to do one better, or make that several more than one better, with 101 in 1 Explosive Megamix for the Nintendo DS.
Explosive Megamix (which is how I’ll refer to the game from this point on) contains 101 games on a single DS cartridge. That doesn’t mean that the games are deep or will take a long time to complete, but are these short games fun? Nintendo has done something similar with the WarioWare games. Could someone else capture the same magic?
If you remember the original Space Invaders, you might remember the cabinets that had a moon background with the game projected onto a screen in front of the background. Some cabinets, especially the table ones, had a color filter put in front of the screen to make the invaders look like different colors instead of being all white. Using these methods, the designers were able to try to make the game look better than what it actually was.
The games in Explosive Megamix are mostly a single screen with moving pixels in front of it. Sometimes the background is a space scene, other times it is a sports court, and other times it can be mundane things like a garden or yard. They are completely static in most of the time, making the backgrounds look less alive then the original Street Fighter II.
The animations in the foreground really don’t look that much better than the backgrounds. There are little touches, but most of the games look like a graphic plastered over another graphic. Imagine sliding a quarter over a picture. That’s about the extent of the animations used in the foreground. Sure, there are somethings like rocket flares behind a spaceship, but most of the time a static graphic is used.
When you try to do a lot of different with one package, something is obviously going to suffer. The music in the game sounds like what you would get if Beaker from The Muppet Show and the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons got together and had a love child. It is a weird combination of funky sounding trumpets and high-pitched noises. It is annoying and you wonder if there couldn’t have been some other music used.
Small sound effects are available, but they don’t change from game to game. About the only thing the sound effects do is indicate that you have scored points. Overall the sound doesn’t add much to the game.
Most of the game is controlled by the stylus. Some games have the action take place in the top screen, but most of the them use the touch screen for the action in the game. The touch screen seems to be accurate for most of the games, but the stylus seems to be a bit off for the games where precision is needed .
What is confusing about Explosive Megamix is the fact that almost all of the games require the use of the stylus. Someof them could use the D-pad and the face buttons easier than the stylus, and you wonder why you aren’t given the option to use the D-pad. This is especially true of games where you have to maneuver a vehicle through objects or when there are arrows in the bottom screen to indicate where to use the stylus in order to move your character.
When you first start Explosive Megamix, there are only ten games unlocked. As you play these games, you earn points. Using these points you can unlock other games. The higher up they are, the more expensive they become. Unfortunately, when you are ready to unlock a game, all you know is the name of the game and the number of points you need to unlock it. That means that you have no idea if you will have any interest in the game that you unlock. It would have been nice if they included a short description of the games that are waiting to be unlocked.
Each game has a set number of points that you want to try to achieve. Once you have gained that number of points, you get bonus points and that game is considered completed. Some games will take several tries to get that number of points, but others are easily completed in one try. I often found myself trying to complete a game so that I could get the points to get another game, but some games felt pointless to complete, especially when they are easy to get points with.
While the games have a bit of variety to them, some are similar to each other. Some games have you throwing an object from the bottom screen to the top screen. Other games have you maneuvering a vehicle through objects. While this wouldn’t be a big deal in other cases, you don’t want to have too many games similar to each other since the games are short.
The games are good for young kids with short attention spans and trips to the bathroom. The reason is that most games in Explosive Megamix don’t last more than thirty seconds. Sometimes it feels like booting up the DS and getting to main screen takes longer than playing some of the minigames.
Explosive Megamix is only $20, so it can be looked at as a value title. However, there are plenty of other value titles that have better gameplay. It doesn’t have the franticness of WarioWare, but it will take a while to unlock all of the games. Once you complete a game though, you probably won’t have any reason to go back to it again. In the end, Explosive Megamix suffers from trying to do too much. If a couple of these games could have been fleshed out a bit and given more levels, better music and sound effects, this could have been a great variety game for casual gamers. Still, there were times when I had to play certain games “one more time” to complete that particular game before shutting it down. I can see this game appealing to children, but it’s not bad for a bathroom break either. It is hard to recommend this title when there are so many other quality budget games available for the DS.