TouchMaster 3

TouchMaster 3
TouchMaster 3 Cover
Platforms Nintendo DS
Genre Familiar Mini-game Mess
MtAMinutes to Action 4
Keep Playing? Just to play them all
Buy from Amazon

TouchMaster 2 claimed, "Starting is simple. Stopping is impossible!" In this sequel to a sequel, TouchMaster 3 takes it up a notch, purporting "Once you start, you can't stop!" Bold claims for a game that is ultimately a gathering of twenty mini-games, each of their own quality and quirks. If it wasn't obvious from the series' ridiculous title, these mini-games make heavy use of the stylus and touchscreen. In fact, that's all they use. Be prepared.

These sorts of collection games are abundant on the Nintendo DS, and a lot of their content often blurs together. Out of the 20 mini-games in TouchMaster 2, I found myself only ever returning to less than five of them. I hope there's more to enjoy in TouchMaster 3, but I'm not expecting a treasure chest of gold, to be honest. Maybe a gem or two surrounded by hand-me-down trinkets.

Also, I knew immediately that this would be a half-hour handheld review because this sort of hodgepodge game is great in chunks, torture at length. Thirty minutes is just enough to sample a good selection of mini-games and decide if it's worth pursuing any further.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - We're at the profile select screen within milliseconds. I click an empty box, type in PAULY, and am good to go. TouchMaster 2 let you pick a cartoony avatar; there is no such option this time. The next menu page has four listings: Games, Multiplayer, Trophy Room, and Options. I'm here to play games, right?

01 - Under Games, there's many options. It's at first a little overwhelming. I tap around and see lots of different names. They are grouped under specific categories. Some are for card games, others strategy, and a select few under word games. Several interesting ones jump out at me while others are a little ho-hum. Examples: Cannon Fire and Block Dropper. Gee, wonder what those are about.

02 - I'm hungry so I click on Chef Memory, one of the four strategy games. Lots of instructions to read.

03 - Still reading them. It's basically three screen's worth of scrolling text...

Touchmaster 3 Chef Memory

04 - Okay, the gist is you have to match tiles to help the chef make a recipe of sorts. You flip tiles two at a time; if they match, it's all gravy. It's a memorization game with a small twist. "It's up to you to create the tastiest food possible!" it tells me. I'll try.

05 - The first recipe is for...cake. The chef needs flour and sugar though correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there's more to cake than that. Frosting, for instance. Anyways, I click around until I find the right tiles. Immediately after doing so, I'm awarded a badge called "Sous Chef." I guess these are like achievements/trophies.

06 - Next recipe is for curry. Did I mention this mini-game is timed? It is, and this round I'm only shown one of three items needed. I'll have to guess on the rest. Spice is obvious, but the other two could be anything. You get a few tries to guess wrongly. In the end, I made a chicken pork curry. Not my favorite type of curry.

07 - Third recipe is for a sandwich. I complete it with ease, making a cheese chicken pork sandwich (yuck!) while also unlocking another badge. It's like there's a sale down the street and they are just giving them away. Anyways, Chef Memory is fun and could go on for forever, but there are other games to play so I exit out.

08 - Sea Word is a spelling game. Something about a fish and not getting caught carrying letters by other sea critters. I don't know. There's too much text up front, and all I want to do is play so I skip the instructions. I'm a cartoon fish underwater, and there's letters in bubbles floating all around me. In the sky above, the word WED hangs like a rain cloud while music from The Little Mermaid jives and jaunts out the Nintendo DS's speakers.

09 - I grab a W and E and head back to the castle to drop them off. All I need now is a D. Swimming, swimming, swimming. What's nice is the farther you hold the stylist away the fish, the harder and faster it swims. Kind of like controlling Link in the Legend of Zelda games. Anyways, grabbed a D and headed back, but charged blindly into an octopus. That sucked. Had to go find another D.

Touchmaster 3 Sea Word

10 - I solved another word, and then another. Each time, the word gets longer. It's a pretty simple concept and mildly fun, and much like Chef Memory, could potentially go on until the ocean dries up. Let's try a card game next.

11 - Poker Slide it is. Directions are, and I quote, "The object of Poker Slide challenge is to unscramble the cards in the playfield to match the puzzle shown in the top screen." I'm down with that.

12 - Okay, there's five rows/columns, and in each row is a card. Jack here, a Queen there, a 9 of hearts over there. You can then slide the row across or the column down to move the card. That's fine and dandy, but you also have to be aware of the placement of other cards in the rows as they move around too. The intro puzzle is basic, but the second one is more demanding. And, for once, you're not being timed.

13 - It's a game that requires patience...and trial and error. I kind of wish the music wasn't so annoying though as it can be distracting and off-putting. It's like a mix of club beats and some psycho's favorite synth snippets. Oh, I just discovered you can switch a card's place with another card. That just helped me solve the puzzle. Trophy unlocked! Guess that's different than a badge.

14 - All right, that's enough of Poker Slide. Let's try an action game. Slime Assault's title catches my eye, and not just because I have a mild hate for things covered in slime. No, no. In this one, I'm to stop the incoming waves of slime monsters using an arsenal of bombs. I bet it's a tower defense kind of mini-game.

15 - Kind of. On the top DS screen, an army of slime monsters crawl their way down to the bottom screen. Using the stylus, I can either drop bombs on them when they hit the second screen or flick bombs up their way. Flicking the bombs is more fun though your accuracy is penalized. They all explode with a cartoony squick!

16 - Wave one complete, and a badge is unlocked. Interestingly, before the next wave, I can upgrade my bombs using progress points. I can change one of my five bombs into either an explosive bomb (redundant, I know), a toxic bomb, a frost bomb, or a land mine. Let's go with toxic. I’m sure that will help somehow.

Touchmaster 3 Bioshock Hacking Pipe Dream

17 - Wave two! The toxic bomb leaves behind a nice green cloud to damage any slime that slip past. I drop some more bombs. So long as you pay attention, none of the slime will even make it to the bottom screen.

18 - Okay, I accidentally upgraded my toxic bomb an additional time instead of turning one of my boring bombs into something cooler. I couldn't figure out how to go back to the progress screen. Boo. Wave three, and a new locale: some ice world, where the slime are bigger, but not any faster. Though one particular slime does turn into two smaller ones upon dying.

19 - This time I pick a landmine bomb to upgrade, and wave four is a mix of big and small slimes, each of different speeds. It's getting crazier with each wave, but I'm having a blast (pun intended) flicking bombs here and there. This might very well be the best mini-game in the collection.

20 - Well, again, as with many of these TouchMaster mini-games, they can go on for as long as you want them to. Since I'm here doing a review, it's only fair that I try a variety of them. Let's see what Recall is all about. Seems to be a music-themed game. I have to repeat musical patterns while staying in time to the beat.

21 - A pipe-like line of colors stretches before you, playing a string of colored notes. Below, there's a selection of colored tiles to correspond with the above. After a blue note plays, I hit the blue tile. I got a "good." Then it goes blue-orange. I do the same, earning a "poor." Guess I wasn't in rhythm. I did okay with blue-orange-blue, but got another "poor" on blue-orange-blue-orange. That's the first round. Kind of basic, and actually pretty fast-paced for a music game. I mean, this is TouchMaster 3, not Guitar Hero. Slow down!

22 - I continue on, starting to get the flow of things. The colors are pretty easy to see out of the corner of my eye, so tapping them while focusing on the top is not a problem. I unlock a badge...and then another one. For what? Who knows right now. The beats are not very complicated, and rather quickly I am on round seven with all five badges unlocked. Here, it got too hard to remember what was played, and I hit a couple wrong colors, ending Recall for me.

23 - Dice King was a game I enjoyed in TouchMaster 2. It was a lot like Yahtzee, and it's made a return here as Dice King 2, but I wonder how much it has changed. Hopefully not for the worse. "Create three dice matches to form the target combination." That sounds about the same. I click start, and different colored and numbered dice fill the entire touchscreen. Above, on the top screen, is a cartoon castle. That same music from Sea Word is playing. Oi. Up top is my mission objective: a 2x chain. That means creating two sets of matches, one after the other, which is only possible if they fall correctly. I get it with ease. Same with the target "two pair" after which we are back to "a 2x chain."

Touchmaster 3 Dice Chain

24 - A bar slowing filling towards a crown hits its mark. We're now in King Mode. I have no idea what means. I just click dice until it goes away, and then I exit out. Not exactly the same as in TouchMaster 2, alas.

25 - Let's try one more. Nine Hole from the card puzzle games. This sounds like a mix of golf and solitaire. An empty three by three grid is up top, and the usual solitaire setup on the bottom screen. Guess I have to fill it, so I clicked on a card as if to play standard solitaire...and get yelled at. FORE! I clicked again. FORE! I clicked the card to the left. FORE! Sigh. This is odd.

26 - Ahhh, I get it. Normally, you are trying to move cards from the deck onto the piles. Here, the piles need to be moved to the main deck, and they have special rules about what can go where.

27 - It takes a little to figure out, but once you do you'll be knocking cards out left and right. To move a card to the deck below, that card has to be one spot higher or lower than it. For instance, if the card on top of the deck is a 7, you can only move a 6 or 8 to it. A King on top of the deck would mean a Queen or Ace if acceptable. Then, depending on what number you moved, you can find the next one to move, and so on and so on. Yeah, it's a weird mix of things, but a pretty fun game. I just can't stand that FORE! shouting. Who thought that would be a good idea, hmm?

28 - The next few rounds are more of the same, except the solitaire format is thrown to the wind. The stacks of cards to pull from change shapes, but it doesn't affect gameplay at all.

29 - Yay, more trophies and badges! Not like them mean anything. I accidentally slip and the stylus touches some unmovable cards, and the shouting of FORE! once again forces me to exit Nine Hole before I am driven mad.

30 - I decided to check out the Trophy Room from the front menu screen. Turns out, this is just wasted space. You get a graphic representation of your bronze/silver/gold trophy, as well as a list of which badges you've unlocked...and that's it. Nothing terrible exciting, I'm afraid.

Touchmaster 3 Pinball

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 4

Favorite Thing: The variety of mini-games offered. Seriously, there is something for everyone. Card games, puzzle games, word searches, music-themed ones. You name it, it's probably here.

Least Favorite Thing: A tie between the exasperating music and the pointlessness of badges/trophies. Upon reading up on them, they are all the same: easy-peasy, virtual things rewarded for simply playing the game. I did nothing special at all to actually earn many of them.

Design: Could have used more flash, pizzazz. It's mostly menus and text, and the games themselves aren't anything to write home about. Especially the card games, but then again, I imagine it is hard to make them graphically amazing.

Story: I liked that part where Frodo and Gollum fought over the...oh wait. There's no story here.

Fun: I really enjoyed the Slime Assault game, especially since it offered an upgrade system and seemed to have some flexibility to it. The others? Meh, not so much.

Keep Playing: Yes, but only to try out the other games. Sadly, the short amount of time I had reviewing the above mini-games was more than enough to experience them fully.

Touchmaster 3 Poker