Some game names are mysterious and alluring. The first time we heard Ocarina Of Time we had no idea what it meant, but we were pretty darned interested.
Other games name themselves purposefully - none so much as Dual Pen Sports. It's built around the concept of using two styluses to compete in sporting events and twitch puzzles. If nothing else, you know what you're getting into right from the start.
Unfortunately, we discovered pretty quickly why this novel idea hadn't yet been explored. Using two sticks to play the game worked reasonably well - so long as we weren't attempting to hold the 3DS. The only way to play Dual Pen is to lie the console on a flat surface. This isn't a problem unless you're on the bus, in the car or, you know, moving. So much for portable gaming.
Ergonomics aside, the core of Dual Pen pits your character against challengers in seven sporting events. A couple are undeniably fun, notably archery and skiing; others are merely okay. One - basketball - is a train wreck.
Half of them feature intuitive left hand/right hand controls - you slide your stylus on either side to punch with the corresponding hand in boxing, or tap to move directionally in skiing. Others aren't as straight-up, and use a 'step one/step two' mechanic.
The system's terrific in archery, as you slide the left stylus to pull back your bow, then hold, aim and release with the right. Shooting hoops? Not so much. You tap the left stylus to catch an inbound pass (seriously?) then hold and slide the right stylus to jump and release the shot. It rarely works.
LOOK MA! TWO HANDS
All the athletic events have multiple ways to play - simple best-score matches against CPU characters, or alternative scoring modes and daily challenges. Naturally, you gain experience points that earn additional swag for your character, but to be honest we couldn't have cared less for the knick knacks doled out to us.
A separate mode called Tap Challenge offers a series of speed puzzles that measure your skills with the styluses. In a Brain Training way, it keeps track of your 'progress' over time and which hand you're better with - but without any payoff. What's the point of improving your left-hand tapping speed? Yeah, we're not sure either.
Ultimately, Dual Pen Sports is a loose collection of game parts, not a coherent experience. It's one part Wii Sports, one part Brain Training, and one part Pilotwings, with no overarching narrative or global sporting event to bring it all together.
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A collection of ordinary games with no soul and an awkward gimmick. After an hour or two, you'll be searching for something - anything - else to do
- Technically, the controls work
- Ugly characters
- Bland visuals
- Middling 3D effects