You can never go wrong with a collection of mini-games on the Nintendo 3DS (or DS)… or so say the developers making bucket loads of games based on that concept. Add one more to that list, with Dual Pen Sports, but this game comes with a gimmick — and an odd one at that. Pretty much everything you need to know about Dual Pen Sports is right there in the title. You have two stylus pens (included), and you play a bunch of sports-based mini-games including: archery, baseball, basketball, boxing, paragliding and skiing. Or at least you play games that somehow incorporate those sports to a small degree.
The trick is that you need to use the two styluses in order to play each game — at least in theory. For some of the games, like baseball, it simply means you use one to pull the bat back on the left side of the ouch pad, and the other to swing forward on the right side. However, except for using the two sides of the touch pad, both movements could easily be accomplished with a single stylus. Just look at any console baseball game with an analog stick swing mechanism, it is pretty much the same thing.
Each sport has a different, yet equally simplistic means to play. Basketball uses one stick to jump and the other to shoot, soccer uses one stick to act as a power gauge while the other directs the penalty shot, and so on. While there is some variety, each game’s movements are very basic. But regardless of the exact nature of each game, they all have one thing in common: They are incredibly simple and won’t hold your attention for long. There is only so much you can get out of a game where the majority of the movement is a basic back, then forward movement.
There is a versus mode to keep things lively, but it only offers four of the seven games (archery, baseball, basketball and soccer). While it is fun for a moment to play against a friend, despite the fact that this is a sports title, there is very little sport to be had. Playing digital soccer against your friends can be fun, but only having the penalty shootout and not even being able to defend the other players kick — instead simply trying to score more goals against the AI-goalie — is underwhelming.
There is also a section called “Tap Exercises,” which are exercises designed to increase hand-eye coordination. Or at least that is what the game says. In reality it is just one more simple mini-game, and this one lacks the fun of being a sport.
Dual Pen Sports feels like one small piece of another bigger and better game. The graphics are dated even by DS standards, the games are simple to the point of boredom, and there is no depth at all. Even the create-a-player is underwhelming. The games can be fun, but only for the first few times, then it is just a simple mini game that uses the gimmick of two styluses.
Even the main selling point of this game, the dual pens, is underwhelming. With very little effort, this game could have eliminated the dual pen control scheme and remade all the movements compatible with a single stylus. But then again, Solo Pen Sports doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
Score: 4 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS on a copy provided by Namco Bandai)