I bought this game for my DS Lite with my birthday money. Although I love 42 All Time Classics (which I have also reviewed) I felt that there were a few games that were missing from the collection such as Pool and Paddle bash. So, I looked had a look at Play.com to see if I could find another collection of games, and Master All Classics came up in the search results. Having a look through the games list I spotted that it had several games that aren't on 42 All Time Classics including Pool, Tic-tac-toe (naughts and crosses) and Paddle play. I also thought the games would appeal to my Mum so I bought her a copy as her Mother's Day present.
Master All Classics is published by Ubisoft and it is rated 12. As with 42 All Time Classics, I feel some of the games are suitable for younger children under adult supervision. The game warns that it has gambling references which seems to be a new addition to games packaging, so I am wondering if the addition of gambling games such as Bridge might be the reason behind the rating.
The packaging shows a selection of games pieces which symbolises some of the games featured in the collection.
The back of the box invites me to 'take a break with the ultimate compilation of classic games' and that it contains over 100 classic games, and this has all my favourite games in one box, and promises lots of fun for everyone.
There is also an instruction book which provides information about the games and bonus points system along with how to use the multiplayer mode and health and safety booklet.
The game was released in November 2009, and costs around £19.99 on the High Street, but can be bought cheaper online, I paid £11.35 including delivery on Amazon (this used Amazon's preferred retailer).
When you first load the game, you have to set up the language and your profile. The profile screen enables you to enter your name which is used in all the games and multiplayer mode. You enter your name (well 5 characters of it, I don't understand why the developers used such a low limit), your colour and image. The range of icons is rather boring in my opinion, but you can 'buy' others when you have earned some bonus points. You can also modify your profile at any time by going to the 'Extras' menu. Once you've completed the initial set up, you go straight to the games menu whenever you load the game card.
The menu is organised into 5 sections.
Contains a selection of 15 classic games.
Here you'll find a selection of 15 lounge, puzzle and arcade games.
Ubisoft says this is a collection of games inspired by the classics but you have to beat the clock. At the start of the game you have 10 of these, but you can 'buy' 20 more of them with your bonus points'.
WARNING Some of the games in this section involve fast moving images as they progress and can make your eyes squiffy and might give you a headache when playing them for example Hide and Seek and Trick Track, if that happens, stop playing. For that reason, I would not recommend playing the fast and furious type games for long periods and I would advise you to avoid them if you suffer from epilepsy or other condition that causes seizures. I would recommend reading through the health and safety booklet that comes with the game before playing.
This is where you access the multiplayer functions. You can host either host or join a game.
Here you'll find the Item Shop where you can 'buy' the bonus games, hard mode of the classic games, and profile images. In addition you can change various settings for the game including the sound, and your profile.
I don't like the menu system at all. I think it is badly designed and cumbersome. There are two ways of selecting an option, either touching the button twice in succession, or by touching the button and then the 'OK' button at the bottom of the touch screen. A single touch should be sufficient to select an option in my opinion.
The worst part of the navigation system is the actual games menu. You have to scroll through the list of games which I think makes it time consuming to find the game that I want to play, sometimes it bounces or scrolls so fast that I miss what I want. The worst affected in the Bonus Games menu. It would have been better to have organised the games into genres, and have buttons which only require one touch to work.
~Selection of games~
There is a good selection of games in this collection, and I think there is something here for everyone. I am not sure how the developer can claim there are over 100 games in this collection as there is only 60 games here. I think that the strategy and practice games found in the Classics section have been included in the 'over 100' figure, but I wouldn't call them games as they don't stand up on their own. In my opinion they are more like Mission Mode in 42 All Time Classics where you have to achieve a certain task.
~Graphics and animation~
The graphics, in my opinion, are excellent by DS standards with good clear playing pieces. Most of the games use the stylus and the touch screen, but some of the arcade type games in the Bonus games section also use the buttons on your DS system. Most of the the time the pieces move around easily but occasionally the pieces bounce, or don't want to move. On the whole the games make decent use of the DS console's screens. I also liked the fact that in games such as Dominoes that the playing pieces didn't shrink down too small as the game progressed, instead I had to move the board around so I could lay down my pieces.
~Music and Sound~
As with most DS games the music and sound effects can get annoying but it's easy to turn them off. The music is in my opinion awful, it sounds like the 'on hold' music you get whenever you phone a call centre and don't really add anything to the games as it just goes on and on in a loop, so I felt the usage of music was better in 42 All Time Classics. I have now turned the music off, but left the sound effects on.
I feel the sound effects are fairly realistic in the Classic and Games Rooms games when moving the pieces and cards, but the sound effects in the bonus games do get very annoying after a while. If I don't want to hear the sounds I just turn the volume control right down on my console.
WHAT I THOUGHT OF THE GAMES
This section as I pointed out comes with 15 games and come with all of the games that I would expect. You'll find 10 board games including Chess, Backgammon, Flip Flop (Reversi) and De-Code (Mastermind) along with 5 card games including Rummy, Texas Hold 'Em and Bridge. In addition you also get extensive tutorials and practice games to help you hone your playing skills whether you are playing video games or real life board and card games. I found the interactive tutorials very helpful and have taught me to play Flip Flop and Hearts which are two games that I never really understood so to speak, and I am now playing these more often.
I felt the practice/strategy games offered a mixed bag in my opinion as some games are based on luck rather than skill such as Rummy which depends on the cards dealt.
On the other hand the strategy games for Chess are worth playing, and without giving too much away, some of the solutions are surprising and even took me a while to work out. I am still puzzled by Mancala so I rarely play this, but that said I beat it once.
This selection of games initially come with the Easy and Intermediate opponents unlocked, but you can buy the hard modes with your bonus points. I felt the opponents in this section are very challenging even in the Easy mode. I haven't beaten any of the opponents at Chess or Flip Flop.
Backgammon is also difficult to win, on several occasions when I thought I was going to win, the computer gave itself several doubles and managed to bear off all it's pieces in a few moves beating me in the process. I am thankful I've had few backgammon and gammon losses. I've had more success with the card games and dominoes.
Another thing I like about this collection is being able to set the colour you want to play, the rules and the number of players before you go into the main game.
Overall I felt the game play to be more realistic than in 42 All Time Classics which has more of an arcade feel in comparison. Rummy is perhaps the best example to illustrate my point, as Master All Classics doesn't prompt you to play your cards so you have to think for yourself, and you can end up throwing the wrong card away and missing a go - just like the real game.
This is where you'll find the arcade, puzzle and lounge type games including Bowling, Pool, Rush 3 (something like Bejewelled) along with puzzles such as Kakuro and Sudoku.
I was pleased to find Pool included in this collection, and I am not disappointed with this as it is similar to the one I used to play on Yahoo! Games a few years ago. It took me a while to get used to the using the cue in this version. You tap on the white ball and use the stylus to move the cue into position, and then you pot the ball using the cue control on the bottom of the screen. I was sceptical to start with as I thought it would have made more sense to be able move the cue ball with the actual cue on the table, but once I started playing I could see why the developers chose the cue control system in order to make the best use of the DS system's small touch screen and to keep the pool table a decent size. If the white ball is too close to the left or right edges on the pool table it would have been impossible to have moved the cue, as it stands it is difficult to move the cue when it is that close as it is, as you can just about see it. The animation and the graphics in this game also look good, the balls look and move more convincingly than the Billiards 'discs' as I call them, in 42 All Time Classics.
Table Hockey is brilliant, and provides a computer version of the game you often find on piers at the seaside, and makes good useage of both screens on the DS system. You control the puck using the stylus on the touch screen to try and score points. You can set the number of points to win before you enter the main screen. It is fast and furious, but it is great fun to play.
Paddle Play is based on the old retro arcade game Pong, which is something like Tennis. You aim to bounce the ball to your opponent by moving your paddle with the stylus or control buttons. You score points if your opponent misses the ball. You can choose which side you want to play along with the maximum amount of points you want to win. The sound effects are convincing in this game and resemble those I've heard when I've seen the game played on television programmes.
Bowling is a bit too slow for my liking, but then it seems to be more in keeping with 10 pin bowling played at a Hollywood Bowl type place rather than Skittles. I do find that I get more strikes in this game than I do in 42 All Time Classics, and a higher score.
Rush 3 is something like Bejewelled which is a match three type game, but it's played with stone tiles rather than gem stones. You have to get three or more of the same tiles in a row to clear them by swapping them on the screen which works really well on the DS screen. You can get 'chain reactions' if any of your moves results in further 3 or more matches and the gameplay is comparable to similar games to this including level changes. I would have liked this game to have been scored or a time record kept. You can earn quite a lot of bonus points the longer you play this, I earned 2000 of them in one sitting.
Sukodu and Kakuro makes a welcome appearance in this collection to give more of a puzzle element. I admit I am more of a Sudoku person as my maths isn't good enough for Kakuro. Sudoku comes across very well on the DS, you place your numbers by tapping on the desired square and entering the number either by writing it in the space provided or moving the numbers into the square - either way tap on the appropriate button to accept or reject the number you've added. The puzzle appears on the top screen allowing you to see where you are in the puzzle. I found there is an issue with the handwriting recognition mode, I found that I have to enter a curly 9 to stop it becoming a 4, but you can drag numbers over which is handy. Duplicate numbers are highlighted during the puzzles, and if you make any mistakes you can click on the offending number and erase it. The same number entering principle applies to Kakuro, but one thing that really spoils both puzzles is there is no way of saving puzzles to work on them later on or if the console's battery goes.
Initially you get 10 games in this section, but you can 'buy' 20 additional games from the Item Shop. The bonus games makes an interesting concept in what I think blends classic game pieces with arcade type games. I found they give the brain and eyes a work out as well as test reaction times, memory and co-ordination skills as you have to think and act quickly before time runs out. You can add time to the clock as you progress through the game and levels, in many of the games making a mistake incurs a time penalty or a loss of life. I have found that the longer I play the further I can progress with them. If you beat your longest time then you can earn bonus points. As I said earlier in the review the animations do get pretty fast and if your eyes feel squiffy stop playing.
I enjoy playing many of these including Trap Suit where you have to place all the suits in their respective cages and the wrong icon in the wrong cage releases all the icons you put in that cage so you have to catch them again. The only trouble is I end up talking to the icons and telling them to go into the cages in an orderly fashion. My Mum is the same I heard her exclaim 'how did you get in there you rotten club, you've let all the diamonds out! Groo!' so not exactly the type of game to play on public transport. If you like this then give Hunt Heart a try where you have to catch the hearts avoiding the other suit icons; Trap Around requires you to circle the black ball (or coin), and finally Hide and Seek where you have to click the suit icon shown on the top half of the screen.
If like me you enjoy playing Rush 3, then I think you'll love Dicey and Tri-Match which offer different takes on the match 3 genre. In Dicey you have to slide rows and columns of different dice to get three or more in a row, and in Tri-Match you move the pieces to form triangles of the same colour. In both games you can get 'chain reactions' where one match leads to other matches as the pieces disappear. I can spend ages playing these when I don't want anything too fast paced.
Trick Track and Crack Jack offer what I think are interesting takes on Memory which works quite well in my opinion. In Trick Track you have to tap on the card shown from a selection of moving cards. You initially see them face up, and you have to remember the card and track it when it is face down, tapping the wrong card incurs a penalty. As the animation gets really fast, I only play this for a little while. Crack Jack blends Blackjack with Memory by finding cards which add up to 21, each time you make a mistake you get a time penalty. It's impossible to get it right on the first go but it is an interesting test of memory and maths skills. Another challenging element to Crack Jack is you get a different set of cards each time you get 21 points.
If you like playing snake type games (remember Snake on older Nokia mobiles?) then there are two games which should please you. I think Code Winder is the better of the two games, it requires your snake to eat the dots in order the code that appears on the top screen eating the wrong dot ends the game. It is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect. I admit it took me a while before I got the hang of it, partly as I started at the wrong end! You get a new code each time you complete it.
Finally the last game I will recommend is Bet Set Go which tests maths as well as reaction times. I've done quite well at this game despite that I am useless at mental arithmetic.
On the whole though, I think this section is more quantity rather than quality as there are in my opinion too many naff games here. I felt some of them provided the same game but with different pieces with not enough variation to be put into a separate game.
I also felt some of these games didn't quite work and have limited playability.
I really like the bonus points system in this collection which enables you to 'buy' various things for the game such as the bonus games, images and the hard mode for the classic games. There are a few ways of earning points:-
Winning games against the computer or in multiplayer mode
- Losing games will earn you a few points
- Completing the strategy and practice games in the Classics section
- Playing Jackpot (a fruit machine) and Roulette offer a quick way to rack up points if you're not far off a target to 'buy' something
- Beating your time records in the Bonus Games section
It didn't take me very long to earn enough points to 'buy' all the bonus games and hard mode of the games, but I think that more could have been done with the points such as new designs and additional Classic and Games Room games. Once you have 'bought' everything you want the bonus points no longer serve any purpose, and then Roulette and Jackpot become pointless.
This game comes with a multiplayer mode, but I don't think it is as good as it could have been. The first thing is the lack of wireless single card play mode, so it means if you want to play games with a friend they will need a game card too to play wirelessly. There is a 'hot seat' mode which uses one DS console, but it isn't always practical to keep passing a games console around between players.
The wireless connection also has an annoying habit of dropping the connection when playing the game, which is something I haven't experienced with other game cards. It seems to happen when one of the players hasn't made a move for a while, say when someone has to nip to the toilet during a game. This also means that the connection is not reliable enough to enable play from different rooms in the house.
The next gripe is that you host individual games, which means when you have to set up a new connection each time you want to play a different game, it wouldn't be so bad if it was only a few games but there are several of them which makes it a tedious process each time with the hideous scrolling menu to select the game you want to play. It is easy enough to set up a game, but the person joining the game has to go through the rigmarole of finding the 'server' before joining the game which wastes valuable playing time, so I prefer the single games room approach found in 42 All Time Classics.
As in 42 All Time Classics the games really come alive when you play them in multiplayer mode, but it is disappointing that not all the multiplayer games can be played in this mode. I think Ubisoft missed the boat in not including Table Hockey as a multiplayer game as I think it is one of the best games in the collection.
You don't get a chat function in Master All Classics, but as there isn't an internet mode I don't think it really matters too much. But having had this in 42 All Time Classics, it is something I miss in other games if it isn't there especially if you're trying to play games in different rooms of the house.
Overall, I think Master All Classics is a worthwhile addition to your Nintendo DS collection as it offers hours of fun and long term playability even if you have 42 All Time Classics or any of the TouchMaster games (I have got the first two games) as there are enough differences that make it worth buying. Master All Classics isn't perfect, but I would buy an updated version if the game's flaws were fixed such as improved navigation, multiplayer features and an autosave function in the puzzle games. I would also like to see more to be made of the Bonus Points. So taking all of that into consideration I award Master All Classics 3 and a half stars (this will appear as 3 stars as Dooyoo doesn't allow half stars)
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