When a copy of 101-in-1 Explosive Megamix landed in Gamervision HQ, I didn’t even know what it was. It wasn’t even close to being on my radar, despite being published by Atlus in North America. As I soon found out, the title says it all: 101 minigames on one DS cartridge for the budget price of $20. I thought that it sounded like a great value, and that even if some of the games weren’t so great, there had to be enough good content to warrant the price. However, even though a handful of the Megamix games are entertaining, too many of them have sloppy controls or a low fun factor, leaving me a little underwhelmed.
The presentation of 101-in-1 is unabashedly simple, and the game isn’t pretending to be anything more than a minigame compilation. The titles, both locked and unlocked, are presented on a sideways-scrolling menu; all you have to do is select one and you’re on your way. Luckily, the menu also includes instructions for all of the games, which is necessary because so many of them are counterintuitive. Only one save file can be kept on the cartridge, which means if you want to lend your game to a friend, he or she will have to erase all of your unlocked games to start anew. I know that there is already a lot of content on the cartridge, but though this is a minor annoyance, it still seems unnecessary.
Out of the hundred and one games available, only a handful of them are unlocked at first. It is up to you to unlock the rest by beating the high scores of the available games and earning gold to buy more. The unlocking price of new games starts out low, and gets higher and higher, although there seems to be no correlation between game price and difficulty (or game price and entertainment value). In fact, when unlocking a game, all you can see is its title, so you have to guess whether or not it’s a game you’ll actually like before spending your gold; too often, you’ll guess wrong.
Each game is usually only a minute or two long, though some are a little longer, and some are over in seconds. There is a good amount of variety, with puzzles, guessing games, pseudo-platformers, racers, and more; the only thing they seem to have in common is that they all try to make good use of the system’s stylus and touch screen. Unfortunately, despite the variety and touch controls, too many of the minigames fall flat. Some simply aren’t fun, or are far too simplistic, while others have wonky controls, making getting a high score either impossible or totally up to chance. Sure, there are plenty of games that are actually enjoyable, at least for a short while, but this doesn’t excuse the fact that not every aspect of 101-in-1 feels polished.
If you only use your DS for a few minutes at a time and enjoy games that can be played in short spurts, 101-in-1 Explosive Megamix might be right up your alley. For $20, you could certainly do worse. However, too many games just didn’t feel right, and there are only so many times I can unlock a game I immediately hate before wanting to quit altogether. With a little more work, this could have been a stand-out casual title for the DS, but sadly this megamix is not as explosively fun as I would prefer.