Version tested: DS
Right, so I'm going to put as much effort into reviewing this as Atari/Sensory put into making it. It's rubbish. Don't bother with it.
Really? I have to do more? That doesn't seem fair.
I mentioned recently how the DS is so very wonderful because it causes developers to have to think. Well, I'm not wrong. But unfortunately sometimes what they think is, "Blimey, we can just stick any old crap on that and use the stylus like a mouse."
On the little plastic square are four games: Boggle, Monopoly, Yahtzee and Battleships. Four games it's hard to find the energy to bother disliking, although I could live with never playing Monopoly ever again.
So here's the problem: They're not single-player games. And really, is there any appeal in any of them to play against AI? "Ooh! Computer! You sank my battleship! You dastardly inanimate object." It's not exactly chess.
Boggle is perhaps most orientated for a single-player mode. I don't have to have an opponent when challenging myself to extract as many words as I can from the grid of sixteen letters. In fact, after the way I treated my little sister as a child, I shouldn't be allowed opponents. She would look up from furiously scribbling down words and ask, "How do you spell 'COUNT'?" and I would tell her and then say, "But there's no point in you writing that down now, cos I have it." And she so naively would comply. Oh god, I feel terrible. I deserve this version of the game to be such a complete mess.
Pathetically, all four modes of play on offer (very slight variants on the norm) share the same high score table - collect 100 words in the rubbish Word Find mode, and it will top your much smaller Classic mode scores. Sure, who cares, but it's a good example of the complete lack of attention to detail throughout. Far worse would be that regular words are inexplicably missing from its dictionary, such as, astonishingly, "NEED" or "GRANT". Huh?
Some readers might not have had their lifetime fill of Monopoly, and like the idea of a game. It's recreated fairly faithfully (apart from when landing on 'Go To Jail', the animated police van that drives you there flipping goes past 'Go', which I'm fairly sure is clearly stipulated against), but it's so dismally slow that it makes the real life equivalent seem positively action-packed. And anyway, the only fun part is when other people forget to charge rent, and the game does that automatically. Yes, it's Monopoly on your DS. But oh God, it's Monopoly on your DS.
As for Battleships, you can play it on a piece of paper. Nuff said. Which leaves Yahtzee. As with Battleships, playing against the computer is of limited appeal. And it's a shocking mess, confusing in appearance, and when fathomed, mind-crushingly slow. You can enjoy all the visceral excitement of trying to get some 5s over and over again, but with broken dice animations!
Of course, there's multiplayer modes for all four, with hot-seat on a single DS, single-cart play, and multi-cart options. But here's a thought: if there's two of you in a room, WHY NOT JUST PLAY MONOPOLY? Nothing is gained by not having to set up the board. And if you're so soulless as to think that an improvement, you deserve this tacky, horribly dated rubbish.
So you might be thinking, "Well, actually, I wouldn't mind a quick game of Yahtzee now and then," or "Challenging myself at Boggle seems a good way to pass time on the train." And I was thinking the same thoughts before I played. How can you screw it up? Well, the answer is to use awful graphics, and arrange everything in the most frustrating manner imaginable, and then have a Boggle dictionary that apparently doesn't speak English. It's all so lazy and cheap-looking that it spoils any fun. In fact, just simplifying everything down to 2D would have been an improvement, rather than the half-arsed 3D splodges.
So why 3 out of 10 and not 1? Because should you want to, you can almost play Monopoly, Boggle, Yahtzee and Battleships on it. Just in a really tacky, and depressingly lonely way. And you might want to take advantage of the wireless multiplayer, but really that just makes you weird. Play proper board games if you're in the same room, for goodness sakes. It's a lazy mess, and you deserve better.
3 / 10