Traditionally, the pen has a limited application in the field of sports. While it might be used to sign a few autographs, a thousand Bic biros taped together does not a pole vault make. This fact didn’t deter Namco from producing a 3DS sports title which bases itself on the humble pen, with twin “sport styluses” coming in the box.
Pens at the ready
The idea is that the seven sports mini-games on offer are controlled purely by using the two pens on the touchscreen. Why dual pens? Because this helps develop ambidexterity, Namco theorises, and it has thrown in a few brief split-screen coordination exercises, to aid in this measure.
For the sports, though, the two-stylus control method seems pretty arbitrary. Granted, it does make more sense with some events such as skiing, with the pair of pens being used as the left and right skis to carve out the turns. The pens can also be stroked down opposite sides of the screen to make you accelerate, just as if they were actual ski poles. This scheme works well and the skiing event is simple to play, and it feels right too – while also being one of our favourites.
On the other hand, some events have horrible controls. Football is a free kick taking exercise where the run up is directed with one pen, then the height and swerve of the kick is set with a curved flick of the other. The problem is the second part of the exercise is hugely unintuitive, and most of our attempts at banana kicks ended up as plum duffs. The whole experience doesn’t feel anything like football, either.
Paragliding is another one we didn’t get on with. The controls are just a matter of steering, where the floating around on thermals and flying into targets aspects of the game are rather dull. Basketball is passable, although a very simplistic hoop shooting affair. Archery is one of the more enjoyable events, where the entire control scheme has been nicely implemented, and the boxing is quite fun too. Baseball again has very basic controls, but is a reasonable little mini-game.
Unfortunately there’s another drawback with Dual Pen Sports in that you have to place the 3DS on a surface or your knees to play. Obviously, it’s not possible to use twin styluses while actually holding the 3DS. Mind you, some events can be played just fine with one stylus, although that’s another weakness in terms of the gimmick factor of the dual pens.
Company: Namco Bandai
- Some events such as skiing and archery are enjoyable.
- Other events are poor; two stylus gimmick means you can't hold your 3DS and play at the same time.
This is a varied collection of sports mini-games, some of which are moderately entertaining, while others struggle badly. The dual stylus control is pretty gimmicky, and also requires the 3DS to be placed on a flat surface.