TouchMaster Review for DS

On: DS
These games really are better when played with a beer in one hand
These games really are better when played with a beer in one hand

These games really are better when played with a beer in one hand

TouchMaster's past comes from one of gaming's seediest corners. The touch screen pub games that this mini-game compilation is based on started appearing in taverns around the time of the millennium, and carry little or no kudos in the gaming community, but are hugely popular wherever they are placed.

Like minesweeper on the PC, many gamers would be embarrassed to admit TouchMaster machines even count as video games hardware, but it terms of the man hours they consume and the cash they generate, they rival even the biggest, most respectable titles we hold so dearly to our hearts.

Now the most popular of the dozens of coin gobbling games that have appeared on Midway's machines in bars and inns across the country have come to the DS, meaning you can enjoy them without the smell of a packet of ready salted and the whiff of a Weatherspoons' drip tray.

Which is exactly where the problems start for TouchMaster, a game that does its best to put you off from the start, despite some cracking mini-games. Of course the DS is the natural choice for a touch screen game, but it was the pub setting that defined how great TouchMaster was when it nestled inside an upright arcade machine.

'With alcohol in your system and the air thick with smoke, you could join a gang of friends and morph into one mass...'

With alcohol in your system and the air thick with smoke, you could join a gang of friends and morph into one mass of flailing arms and excited cheers as everyone poked the screen and squabbled, in what might be gaming's most advanced version of multiplayer yet.

On the DS, playing alone on the bus just doesn't have the same feel, and even a competent multi card multiplayer mode does little to recapture the magic of jostling about in the corner by the pool table.

Add to that the game's mundane interface and soulless presentation, coupled with the American bias of some of the trivia and general knowledge based games, and you'd be right to suspect that TouchMaster is largely a waste of DS cartridge components.

But there is a big but. Some of the mini-games are fantastic. Some of course are awful, and some lazily mimic tired old card games like solitaire, but there are others that will dig there hooks deep into your sturdy gaming soul.

Some of the mini-games are still pretty addictive

Some of the mini-games are still pretty addictive

There's no telling which will get you, but with 23 on offer you are bound to fall victim to at least half a dozen. In my case I have happily given hours of my time to a dice rolling game called 5 Star Generals, and blissfully lost a huge chunk of my weekend to a tile flipping game known as Artifact. And then there is my addiction to Mah Jongg Pairs and Mahki.

I might not be able to shake the idea from my head that this game is awful, but I'm enjoying it a great deal, which is exactly how TouchMaster succeeds. It bundles together countless hours of fun at a budget price in the form of a selection of gaming's guilty pleasures. Like watching Neighbours or listening to the Footloose soundtrack, you'll know you're not indulging in the best a medium has to offer when you play TouchMaster, but you'll likely love every minute.

However, the same selection of games could have been presented with far more style, and with that recognised for their place in the gaming landscape. Instead we are given an experience that lacks any of the personality of its pub-based forbearer. Like having a pint at home on your own, TouchMaster just can't hope to compete with the allure of a good old boozer.

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Game Stats

TouchMaster
6
Out of 10
TouchMaster
  • Some extremely addictive mini-games
  • Fails to recapture the pub atmosphere
  • Some extremely unoriginal mini-games
  • Terrible graphics
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Release Date: 06/07/2007
Platform: DS
Publisher: Midway
Genre: Mini-game collection
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 12,974 37
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