Clue / Mouse Trap / Perfection / Aggravation
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-01-15 Nintendo DS Compilation E (Everyone) DSI Games / Gravity-i

I love game compilations. I simply adore them. They're like getting something for nothing, and who doesn't like free stuff? Make the compilation out of board games, and you?‚…ve scored even higher in my book. I would love to sit down to a great board game with friends night after night, but most of them take so long to set up, that by the time you are ready to play, no one is in the mood anymore. DSI Games understands this, and has created another portable set of classic games for the Nintendo DS.

Where I would normally begin a review explaining the story and characters involved in a game, when you are actually reviewing multiple games at once, that format can get a little tricky. Even more so when you take into account that these four offerings are essentially you vs. a computer. That being said, I won't waste time on the formalities, instead, I'll go through the games one by one letting you know where each stands.

Clue

Clue was one of my favorite board games as a kid. Ever since I could understand the simple logic behind it, I wanted to solve the mystery of who killed who, in what room and how. But unlike other board games that could actually survive with two players, Clue demands more, and finding that many people who all want to play the same game is a task in and of itself. Not to mention the time it takes to play a full game...

That being said, I was thrilled to see Clue arrive on my Nintendo DS. At the beginning of each game, you are met with the option of changing the number of players, with three and six at the extremes. As your start the game, you will be greeted with the game board on the touch screen, and your notepad on the top screen.

Unfortunately, the notepad is a visual aid only, as you're not allowed to mark on it during the game. Sure, the game itself keeps track of the cards that you?‚…ve seen, but when it comes down to the end, there are many times when you can eliminate things you may have never even seen based simply on the process of elimination, and being able to mark those off as well would have been a nice touch. The lack thereof, however, doesn?‚…t kill all of the fun of the game, but the graphics might, depending on your point of view.

While the notepad, accusation menu and the characters themselves are visually pleasing, the game board itself is a bit shabby. The player pieces seem to be equivalent to pieces of cardboard, and you'd be hard pressed to find any detail among the blotches of color they?‚…re made of. While this may be an absolute killer for players who are sticklers for details, it does nothing to impact the flow of the game, and the lack of detail can be easily looked past. Fortunately, the game's music fares better, with chilling screams and other sound effects joining the spooky music that plays throughout.

The one unchangeable negative about Clue has and always will be the time it takes to play a game, and even on the DS, things move a bit slowly. Luckily, if you're in the mood for some faster gameplay, this compilation has just the thing.

Mouse Trap

Once again, you're immediately met with options to customize your experience. This time, not only can you change the number of players, but you can also choose between a classic and short version of the game, with the short version cutting the game board into only 6 pieces, allowing things to progress rapidly.

For those that aren't familiar with the game, the object is to be the last mouse standing, after trapping all of your opponents in a homemade mousetrap. At the beginning, all players will make their way around the board, and will build pieces of the trap when they land on the appropriate spaces. Once the trap is complete, your goal is to be lucky enough to land on the "turn crank" space when an opponent is under the net, which is suspended in the air. If you are lucky enough, you will be able to set the trap in motion, eliminating that opponent from the game. This continues until you are the last mouse remaining, or until an opponent catches you.

Like in Clue, the game board and all player actions are presented on the touch screen, with an aerial view of the board taking residence on the top screen. The graphics are a bit better here, with the bright colors on the board and gears resembling those from a kid's crayon box, but things are nowhere near perfect. The trap has some clipping issues, especially towards the end, and the text on the game board is a bit hard to read, but don?‚…t be concerned about losing your ability to play effectively, as the computer does everything for you but roll the dice.

If there's any continuity between Clue and Mouse Trap it's the sound department, which once again does its job quite well. The wacky music playing throughout is a mix between ragtime tunes and that which you'd hear during Saturday morning cartoons. And that continuity continues in our next game: Perfection.

Perfection

Perfection is one of those games that I had always wanted to play, but never got around to until now. The goal is a very straightforward one ?‚™ place all of the pieces into their appropriately shaped hollows within the time limit, or the board will pop all of the pieces out into your face.

The set of pieces is located to the side of the game board, and by tapping on each piece, you will pick it up and transfer it back to the playing surface, where you must find its hollow and rotate the piece to fit. The location of the pieces is such that you can?‚…t look at the game board and the pieces at the same time, which adds a bit of challenge since you are basically winging it when you pick a piece.

After placing the piece over its hole, two arrows appear on either side of it allowing you to rotate it in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. While in real life you also have to take the time to rotate the piece, transferring that motion into a virtual game obviously adds a lot of time to your steps, and with a basic time limit of 60 seconds, you might find it hard to actually finish.

The frantic nature of the game is only made more so by the timer on the top screen that is forever spinning towards 0, and the tick-tock sound effects blaring from the speakers. The music itself is also fast paced, which really helps with the mood of the game, and again, the graphics are fun and intense, but aren?‚…t detailed enough to be cause for celebration. What did cause me to celebrate, however, was our last game: Aggravation.

Aggravation

I've been playing a freeware, homemade version of Aggravation on my computer for years, so after being given the possibility of taking the game everywhere I go, my excitement level went through the roof.

Sort of like the game Sorry, Aggravation requires players to move all of their marbles around the board and back into their own HOME section, while avoiding being knocked back into their BASE by the opponents' marbles. By landing on an opponents' marble, you send it back to the BASE, where they must wait for a six to land on the die before they move out again. Come to think of it, the game is very much like Sorry, but it is fun in its own right.

Gameplay takes place on the touch screen, from a stationary perspective, with the top screen providing a more close-up shot of the board from the perspective of the current player.

In keeping with the theme of this compilation, the graphics are vibrant and intense, and very pleasing to the eye. With bright purples, pinks, and blues, Aggravation is easily the best looking out of the four games, and has the most real-life appearance of the four. This is to be expected considering the fact that the playing pieces are orbs, but it is still an appreciated fact.

The music here is a mix of techno and electronica with calm and smooth pop. The result is a somewhat calming soundtrack that adds atmosphere to the game, but doesn?‚…t distract. Perhaps it?‚…s just because I am partial to the game, but with simple rules and lots of opportunities for revenge, there's no question in my mind that it's the best out of the four games in this compilation.

In the end, this foursome is another example of DSI's knowledge of casual gaming culture. Any one of these games could have been released on its own, but we've been treated to all four in one package, and for one price. For those looking for something to occupy them in between classes, or while on public transportation, Clue / Mouse Trap / Perfection / Aggravation provides all the fun you need in a great pick-up-and-play package.


Special thanks to Alison Kain and DSI Games for providing a copy of this title.