It's even worse if you come across some of those packs that boast over a thousand games, only to discover that actually, there are probably ten unique ones at best. Thankfully in the case of 42 all time Classics, each game is entirely different and most of these are great fun to play.
As it says on the box, 42 All Time Classics include 42 (shock!) different games for you to play. Nintendo have managed to cover a wide range of bases, from card games, board game favourites, parlour games and pub classics. Regardless of your preference, there's something there to catch your eye. These include (deep breath): Old Maid, Memory, Pig, Blackjack, Checkers, Dots and Boxes,Connect Five, Backgammon, Chess, Shogi, Field Tactics, Ludo, Soda Shake, Dominos, Koi Koi, Word Balloon, Bowling,Darts, Billiards, Balance, Takeover, Solitaire, Mahjong Solitaire and Escape. Phew.
While you'll no doubt recognize the majority of the board games and iconic titles, there are a few oddities in there. Soda Shake, as you may have guessed, involves shaking a bottle of soda within a short time limit and is to be fair, completely pointless. Balance is more addictive than it sounds, where you have to place all the blocks on a pair of scales without tipping any over the edge. Escape involves moving a series of blocks in order to create a path for the largest block to make its way through and is frustratingly difficult. We deeply suspect these kinds of games are there purely to make up the numbers but they are worth a look as a change of pace.
Each game has a set of rules on how to play and you can choose your own icon to represent you when playing, whether it's on your own or against another DS owner. There are different difficulty settings for the computer skill level, ideal to alter to your own abilities. As you can imagine, the most fun can be had through wireless play against other human opponents, really generating a competitive spirit and giving each game far more replay value. It's even possible to send and receive messages while playing, so expect plenty of taunts!
If there's a complaint on the choice of games it's that there are too many card variations (eighteen in all) that few people will ever play aside from the old favourites like Old Maid, Texas Hold Em, Blackjack, Solitaire, Mahjong and Memory as they are too similar to warrant repeated play. Some of the games don't work as well with touch screen controls as they should- throwing darts isn't as direct as you would expect and a bowling ball has to be thrown at a certain angle in order for it to go straight down the aisle, often leading to some frustrating moments. It's also a bit lacking in the presentation department. Despite being a Nintendo product, everything looks basic and functional as opposed to the polish that we've become accustomed to from the console giant.
There are several modes available for the games on offer. Free Play means that you can pick any of the games and just have a quick go of something you fancy, whether it's a round of bowling or quick game of darts. Some games are actually locked and can only be made available by working through Stamp mode. Stamp mode is possibly the most frustrating aspect of the all package, forcing you to play every single game several times in order to get to the next one. To get to the next game on the ladder, you have to earn three stamps. Losing or drawing only awards you with one, while winning guarantees all three stamps. Winning is the key to progress but with some games, especially the cards which are hard to get your head around and backgammon, which I still can't figure out, this is easier said than done. It means you'll often have to play games you don't like to move forward and is the one mode you'll easily get fed up with the quickest. Mission Mode involves completing one of the games to a set requirement- whether it's finding three words in a row for Word Balloon (essentially hangman but with pesky birds popping balloons) or getting a certain score in Darts. These vary greatly in difficulty and are likely to last you for some considerable time to come. Successful completion of each mission unlocks icons that can then be used to represent your avatar. Asides from unlocking games in Stamp mode, it is also possible to unlock designs by winning the same game a certain number of times, which is great for the completionists out there, but realistically, won't make you want to play everything repeatedly.
While Nintendo could have come up with a slightly more imaginative title and the term 'classic' is stretching it a tad for some of the games, everyone is guaranteed to find at least a handful of games that they'll keep coming back to for a quick go. Add in the ability to play other gamers for many of the staple favourites including darts, draughts, blackjack and you have a compilation package that offers plenty of entertainment value. From a personal perspective, it's worth the entry price for touch screen Solitaire all on its own.