Unique gameplay due to use of two styli over just one stylus.
Two-handed gameplay removes from console's portability.
There are a lot of sports games out there but Dual Pen Sports is unique in a lot of ways. As in it’s pretty much the only game of its kind– a multi-sport collection– on the 3DS right now. Plus, it’s the only one that is designed to be played with two styli, or “pens,” one in each hand– the hook of the game.
Each hand is assigned to a different action in Dual Pen Sports, no matter which particular game or sport is being played. Now, while the sports are definitely ones most players will have heard of, they aren’t all played in the traditional fashion, two pens aside.
For instance, the Soccer event revolves around goal kicking specifically. No dribbling, passing, or slide-tackling here, folks. That being said, while there is generally only one way to play each event, like how the Basketball game revolves completely around shooting, there are generally a few different expressions of that idea, such as targeting specific shots in either of the aforementioned categories, or flying to a specific zone of the map in the Paragliding event versus trying to get through the checkpoints the fastest.
The way each game is played is dependent on having a stylus in each hand. Each stylus represents a hand on a lever in the paraglider, or a pole in skiing, or, in other games, represents a certain action, such as catching a ball or winding up to kick. In addition to the main events, there is a daily challenge based on one of the games. Completing three events successfully will unlock an additional bonus challenge. This adds some longevity to the experience and gives players a reason to keep coming back. Also, there are the Tap Exercises, basic challenges for both hands. These are actually some of the best fun that Dual Pen Sports has to offer, and the game ranks your handedness based on how you perform. Chances are, your dominant hand will score higher than the other, but you can keep challenging the individual exercises over and over to get a better score.
Basically, the game relies on the gimmick– that you use two pens to play each individual game. There are a couple of major issues with this underlying concept, however. Firstly, like the DS before it, the 3DS is not capable of sensing double-touch inputs. Since the touch screen can only register touch in one place at a time, this means that the “dual pen” actions have to be performed sequentially. This is less obvious in the rapid-fire Tap Exercises than in the other sports.
Second, the handheld 3DS system becomes noticeably less “handheld” when you happen to have a stylus in each hand. The simple fact is that it’s not possible to hold both the system and both styli at the same time. This turns the 3DS into more of a “tabletop” system. Believe it or not, this remarkably changes the situations in which the DS is usable. For instance, on a bus, train, or plane, the game becomes noticeably less playable.
Despite these obvious problems, Dual Pen Sports is surprisingly fun and has a bit of staying power. The game’s cheery atmosphere and cartoony nature do a great deal for it, and the fact is that while games of this nature are abundant on the Wii system, Nintendo’s newest handheld has far fewer entries in the “sports mini-game” genre. All in all, Dual Pen Sports is a pretty entertaining game to play, provided you don’t mind not actually holding your system.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.