TouchMaster 3

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
TouchMaster 3 Game Poster Image
Collection of safe, simple DS games offers decent value.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

This game promotes the idea of friendly competition. Note, though, that some of the card games involve the creation of poker hands. There is no gambling, but players will learn about poker hands and their ranking.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are no characters in the game. The player is simply a competitor in both single-player and multiplayer games of skill and chance.

Ease of Play

All of the games use the touch screen as the sole means of interface, and most are pretty simple. However, the text instructions that precede the more challenging activities -- especially the card and strategy games -- can be lengthy and difficult to absorb prior to beginning play. Expect to quit out of the game to reread the rules them a couple of times.

Violence & Scariness

In one game, players control a fish that can be hurt and will eventually go belly up if it touches other sea creatures. There is also a game in which players lob bombs to destroy slugs. They make wet sounds and disappear when hit.

Language

One of the word games allows players to arrange letters in grids however they like, which means kids could potentially make some offensive words (though they wouldn’t be recognized as part of the game)

Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that TouchMaster 3 is collection of simple games that are fairly safe for all ages, though the card games do teach the rudiments of poker (without gambling). Some kids could be put off by the challenge level of some of the card and strategy activities, but the majority of games are suitable for children ages 8 and up.

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What's it about?

TOUCHMASTER 3, the third iteration in Warner Bros.’ TouchMaster series of inexpensive game compilations for the Nintendo DS, offers up 20 new games for players to try, either by themselves or with a friend through wireless download play. Organized into five categories, including card, strategy, puzzle, word, and action, these games are designed to be safe and accessible for the whole family. Players will test their card smarts in games like Target Royale and Stud Royale, which have players trying to build high-ranking poker hands, while strategy games like Dominos and Counterweight will reward players who can think ahead. Bumper Ball is an action game that plays like pinball, only with a circular bumper that players slide around on the bottom half of the screen with the stylus, and the puzzler Recall has players tapping drums in an attempt to recreate both a sound pattern and rhythm created by the computer. All of the games offer trophies that are awarded for reaching set milestones or achieving certain goals.

Is it any good?

The games on offer in this year’s TouchMaster are a mixed bag, though the keepers manage to outnumber the duds. Our favourite was Nine Hole, a golf-themed card game in which cards are laid out solitaire-style and players try to peel them off the table one at a time by selecting cards one number lower or higher than the most recent card played from the deck. We also enjoyed Prismatix 2, a game that has players trying to tap out specific combinations of colors in a honeycomb of hexagons with varying hues, and Block Dropper, a vaguely Lumines-ish game that involves matching colored blocks on a horizontal playing field and then blowing up like-colored areas with a bomb.

None of the games are compelling enough to be sold on their own, and some are downright flops -- such as Sea Word, which has players controlling a fish with an aim to collect letter bubbles to spell words. Still, most players should be able to eke out enough fun from several of them to make TouchMaster 3 worth their while.

Online interaction: The game supports local wireless play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether they enjoyed playing these games alone or if they think they’d have more fun playing with someone else in local wireless play. Do you generally prefer playing with others? Do you wish the game supported more than two players?

  • Families can also discuss the right time to learn about poker. The game doesn’t deal with poker hands within the context of gambling, but do you feel comfortable with your children knowing, say, that a straight flush beats four of a kind? At what age do you think it’s appropriate for children to learn these rules?

Game details

For kids who love puzzle and handheld games

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