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Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Puzzle/ Strategy/ Card Games

Graphics & Sound:

The interface on Touchmaster is pretty simple and clear. Pick a game, then get into it. Once you get into a specific game, the graphics perk up a bit. While we aren't talking digital Picasso here, they are pleasing to the eye and some, like the card game 3 Peak Deluxe, have really pleasant backgrounds that you reveal as you progress in the game. Other than that, you are looking at basic casual games in appearance, whether it be the simple colored tiles of Mahki or the brightly colored billiard balls in Pairs.

As for sound, the sound effects, again, are simplistic. You don't need a full orchestra to get your point across. The background music that does play in the various titles is very nice and stays in the background, where it belongs, but is never grating.


Touchmaster on the DS is a collection of quick-playing games specially designed for just killing time. When I first saw the collection of games, I wasn't too pleased since a good percentage of them are card games. I thought I wouldn't get much enjoyment out of those at all, but boy was I wrong. Not only are they fun, but some are completely addictive, as I soon discovered on a recent plane trip.

There are four collections of game types to select from: Favorites, Cards, Skilland Puzzle. Cards contains Target 21, 3 Peak Deluxe, Go Wild, Phoenix 13, Triple Elevens, Uplift, Solitaire Classic, Power Cell and Double Take. Some of the highlights include Target 21, which has you drawing cards in an attempt to get as close to 21 without going over. 3 Peak Deluxe is one of the above-mentioned addictive games. Hear, you clear each of the three peaks by selecting a card one higher or lower than the card you flip over from the pile. I played far too many games of 3 Peak Deluxe than I'd like to admit. Phoenix 13 and Triple Elevens has you selecting cards that add up to either 13 or 11, respectively. Then Solitaire Classic is always nice to have in a handheld for an easy, breezy time-killer.

Skill contains Artifact, Hot Hoops, 5 Star Generals, Pick Up 6, Pond King Checkers, Trivia and Word Search. Here, my faves included Pond King Checkers which is just like checkers, but with frogs, then a basic Trivia game and also Word Search. Word Search plays exactly like the time-honored newspaper game where you circle the hidden words amongst scads of letters on a page. This one was great fun.

Puzzle contains Crystal Balls, Mahki, Pairs, Times Square, Wordz, Mah Jongg Pairs and Gem Slide. Crystal Balls has a collection of numbered and colored balls piling up and you can break them by matching three of the same color or number, or both for added points. Mahki is a lot like Collapse and is a really fun game. Wordz is just like Wheel of Fortune, nice to have in a handheld and Mah Jonng Pairs is classic Mah Jonng on the go.

Favorites is a best of the best as deemed by the developers and simply contains the most popular games of each group.


Difficulty depends on the game you are playing. Some are more difficult from the start as the concepts are just a little bit more obscure. Some, like Hot Hoops, have you timing your basketball throws to hit the hoop as it passes by and it's just not all that easy to hit the hoop. Card games vary in difficulty and then others are pure luck.

Some of the skill-based games may start off easy and then ramp up, but overall, the difficulty level is more than acceptable and you should be able to find a number of games that are comfortable for your gaming level, no matter who you are.

Game Mechanics:

Well, the game is called Touchmaster and for good reason. You'll be using the stylus for pretty much everything. Whether it's double tapping on blocks to destroy them, circling around letters to make words, or tapping cards to select them, it's all right in your hand. You'll have the choice to play a Single Player game, a Two Player game which is Pass and Play - you share a DS. Then there are Two Player Wireless games available if you both have a Touchmaster cartridge. If you are jonesing to play in a Tournament, there's a Tournament option to see what is open now and what is upcoming. You can also post your High Scores on Nintendo Wi-Fi. It simply requires you to create a User account through the interface.

With a price point of $29.99, you might hesitate to jump in because you may think there aren't enough games to satisfy you. However, there's a really nice selection and most of what is there is pretty darn good. If you dig skill, puzzle and card games, I'd suggest picking up Touchmaster. And if you see it on sale somewhere, then definitely grab it up.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Microsoft Xbox 360 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Sony PlayStation 2 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3

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