A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that TouchMaster: Connect is a collection of 20 mini-games for the Nintendo DS handheld gaming system. Included among them are clones of sudoku and solitaire along with other matching puzzles, card games, and action games. There are some minor privacy concerns, as players can log in to Facebook and Twitter to post their scores and achievements they earn as they play. Also, a global leaderboard lets players rank themselves against others, but no personal information is sent. Multiplayer is limited to head-to-head using local Wi-Fi and system swap (letting players hand the DS back and forth). Several games require users to use basic math skills to play, which can be a fun alternative to doing tables on a blackboard.
What's it about?
There's really no cohesive plot in TOUCHMASTER: CONNECT. Rather, the game collects 20 mini-games which can be sorted into puzzles, strategy, action, and card games. There are variations of match-3 games, a couple of versions of solitaire, a trivia game played on a tic-tac-toe game board, a pong game, and one in which you try to grow a snowman by rolling over snowballs or snowmen that are equal or smaller than you while avoiding ones that are bigger. Most of the games are timed. You can earn achievements by winning the games using specific strategies. All of the games are available at the start -- you don't have to unlock them.
Is it any good?
There's nothing particularly original in TouchMaster: Connect. All of the games are offshoots of familiar other titles, such as the "Match 3 or more" gameplay of Bejeweled or the "knock the blocks" style of Breakout or "tic tac toe trivia" of Hollywood Squares. That said, they don't need to be original. This game brings them all together in one cartridge. If one isn't suited to your tastes, there are plenty of other options. There is, literally, something for everyone. The game is generous with its rewards and achievements, which encourages you to keep playing. And the new social aspects -- especially the leader boards -- will be a big hit with the series' avid fan base. This is the fourth game in the Touchmaster series.
Online interaction: Players can post their scores and achievements on Facebook and Twitter directly from their DS via Nintendo's Wi-Fi connection. There's also a worldwide leaderboard.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about keeping competition friendly and not becoming too competitve.
They can also discuss the importance of sharing time together when playing a game.
Also, several of the mini-games require math skills. Parents can talk to children about how education and studying can be fun and not a chore.
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