IGN Review of Touchmaster
Midway's one of the few big publisher "hold outs" on the Nintendo DS - other than the odd multi-console release of Happy Feet last year, the company hasn't really embraced the dual-screen, touch screen handheld. But seeing its upcoming roster of games, it's ready to jump right on in
even if it's just a little later than most companies have. So it's no surprise that its first "get on the bandwagon quick!" title is a port of the games found in those touch-screen Touchmaster coin operated machines found at the end of the bar at nearly every city pub. This DS collection of 23 puzzle, card, trivia, and word games are already tried and tested as decent casual experiences for players who don't normally play videogames, and they certainly translate well on the Nintendo DS. Just don't look for an impressive features list beyond the decent stack of games in the cart.
TouchMaster is one of those games that'll appeal to the Nintendo-branded "Touch Generation" crowd of casual and older gamers. There's nothing here for the hardcore, but nobody said that the hardcore wouldn't enjoy a nice, casual game of Solitaire or pub trivia.
It's almost surprising to see that Midway barely mentions TouchMaster's legacy in the package - you'll only find a single sentence mentioning that it's an "arcade favorite," almost as if it's common knowledge to anyone. The reason I mention this is that the game doesn't offer any sort of context to the line up of games. It's all over the place in terms of game styles, which certainly increases the odds that there's something here for everyone. Boot up the cart and you've got access to a seemingly random assortment of touch screen games, from frog checkers to a clone of Yahtzee, to a "pop-a-shot" basketball challenge featuring Michael Jordan look-a-likes.
Since the games in the arcade were made for a large touch-sensitive monitor that used big, fat, greasy fingers, the interface remains the same in the port to the DS - this means that most games are of the "tap" variety and not of the "drag and drop" kind. Because of this, there's a bit of a learning curve if you're used to playing games like Solitaire on the PC or any other touch screen. And most games have time limits, a carryover from the arcade designs' need to keep cycling players and to take in as many quarters as possible.
Not every game's a winner, and not every game is easy to understand right out of the gate. The good: Crystal Balls is a cool Puyo Pop variation that uses colors and numbers. And Five Star Generals and Pick Up Six takes Yahtzee and changes things up so as not to infringe on copyrights. But then you've got confusing duds like Artifact, an odd Othello like game with rules that are bogglingly weird and hard to understand without a few rounds of trial and error.
TouchMaster supports the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, but it's for posting high scores and seeing how well you rank against other players who've also uploaded their scores. Midway will also host tournaments which players can participate in, but the interface is absolutely the pits - you can never see in the game when a tournament is taking place, other than going into each game, clicking on "Tournament" and logging in. There's no option to simply log in to see which games have a tournament going on.
The other oddity is the fact that you need two copies of TouchMaster to play the games that support two players on two different systems. I'm sorry, but I find it hard to believe that the card and puzzle games, with their simplistic imagery, are too big to be transferred to another Nintendo DS system using Download Play.
©2007, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved