101-in-1 Explosive Megamix is about as far as you can possibly get from the anime-laden, hardcore role-playing games Atlus is known for cranking out. In a puzzling attempt to reach out to a very different audience, the publisher’s latest handheld offering actually serves as proof that yet another mediocre collection of random minigames is the last thing DS owners need.
Given the nature of the beast, it’s no surprise that quantity is the focus here, not quality. It’s like using a flamethrower to light a candle; fire a huge barrage of different game ideas at a player and they’re bound to get a kick out of at least a few. You’ll find a decent level of variety in the upbeat visual presentation and types of games in this collection, even if the underlying gameplay is about as thin as it gets. The inclusion of a broad sampling of sports, matching, card, puzzle, juggling, shooter, and other games ensures there’s a little something for all tastes.
There is also a certain amount of creativity worked into the minigames that’s to be commended. Pumping out 101 different bite-sized gaming ideas that are all somewhat unique is no easy feat. Alongside the more mundane inclusions, a few of the wackier games have you jogging precariously along the backs of turtles floating down a river, brushing seriously nasty gunk off some guy’s putrid teeth, and diving headlong out of a dangerously plummeting elevator at the last possible second. Unfortunately, the gameplay itself grows more repetitious the deeper you go.
Gaining access to all of the games is a gradual process that feels rewarding at some times and a major pain at others. Since only the first 10 games are unlocked from the start, new games have to be purchased using points earned by achieving the often draconian high-score requirements to beat any given game. Perhaps unwittingly, the “explosive” element in the title is a harbinger of the violent frustration Explosive Megamix will likely instill in you almost immediately upon diving into the first tier of minigames. Imprecise and confusing stylus controls are a big part of the problem.
101 minigames is indeed a large volume of content to wade through, and we can’t deny there are definitely some enjoyable 30-second diversions littered among the mix. At its best, 101-in-1 reminds us of other mini-or microgames collections like Rhythm Heaven or the WarioWare series. But it’s not at its best very often. For every moderately entertaining game to be found here, there are a handful of others that are highly irritating, nearly broken, or just plain awful.
Apr 27, 2009