If you're looking for a collection of touch-screen minigames with colorful graphics and cutely bizarre character designs...well, you can take your pick on the Nintendo DS at this point. Not to be discouraged by the plethora of like titles, publisher Namco Bandai Games is adding yet another minigame collection to the DS library with Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 2. Once again, you can purchase and operate a number of different stores where you do things like design cakes, wash cars, or make sushi. You do all of this with the goal of earning Gotchi points that can be used to purchase clothes, accessories, and snacks for your Tamagotchi partner. The game makes great use of the touch screen, which, combined with the almost sickeningly cute graphics, makes Corner Shop 2 an entertaining little diversion. But once you've played each of the minigames for a few minutes, you'll have seen all the game has to offer, with very little challenge or reward to keep you coming back for more.
In Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 2, you start out by choosing one of three creatures to be your partner. Each creature has a unique personality, but the partner you choose is only superficially relevant and won't change the gameplay in any way. Once you've chosen a partner, you learn that you've just won 10,000 Gotchi from the Tama Lottery. Your partner encourages you to use that money to purchase shops at the Tama Mall so that you can turn your windfall into a persistent source of income while simultaneously providing essential services to the residents of the town.
There are 12 shops in the game, but eight shops are locked at the beginning of the game. Each shop is a minigame that you can play to keep customers happy and earn Gotchi points, which can be used to buy new shops and care for your Tamagotchi partner. All of the minigames use the touch screen exclusively and play very similarly, although they vary in theme. In the cake shop, customers will come in and order a specific cake design, which you'll see pictured on the top screen. Using the stylus, you then have to create that same design by choosing a cake mold and type of batter, drawing on the cake with icing and cream, and placing such toppings as berries and mushrooms on the cake. In the flower shop, you have to fulfill customers' orders based on the size and color of bouquets they request. In the sushi restaurant, you have to look at what type of sushi the customers want, put together the rice, wasabi, and topping in the right order, and place it on the conveyor belt where it will be taken to the waiting customer. In the bowling alley, you have to place pins on the lighted spots on the lane and place the ball in the return chute after each customer bowls. You can also do things like make hamburgers, care for sick Tamagotchis, act as a flight attendant, place requested orders on a cart to be taken to passengers, wash and wax cars (and, oddly enough, bulldozers and airplanes as well), design clothing, and play music. Eventually, you'll unlock two special combo shops: a sushi bowling alley, where you line up sushi on the lane so the customers can slide down face first to eat, and a music clinic, where you play music to heal sick patients.
Some of the minigames are more fun than others, but each one follows a very specific pattern. Once you learn the patterns, they become repetitive and mindless. Some of the minigames are so simplistic that they aren't even fun in the first place. The bowling minigame is so easy that it's practically impossible to fail or get anything less than a perfect rating. The same goes for the burger-making minigame, where items fall from the top of the screen while you stack up a burger as the customer ordered it. This is ridiculously easy because there are only four types of toppings, which move so slowly that it's never difficult to make a perfect burger. Based on how well you fulfill a customer's order, you'll get a rating from zero to three smiley faces. If you get anything less than three smiley faces, you'll get a hint about what you did wrong. The ratings don't seem to have much of an effect on the game, and it's so easy to get three smiley faces every time that the ratings seem pointless.
After you've served enough customers in your shop, Princess Tamako will show up. After you've fulfilled her order or completed her request, she'll offer to have her servants expand your shop. Each shop can be expanded three times, except the combo shops, which can only be expanded once. As shops expand, you'll get more customers and their requests will become slightly more elaborate, but the challenge is still negligible. Although you will earn more money from upgraded shops, the money soon becomes a nonissue because there are a limited number of shops and items to purchase, so you'll always have much more money than you could possibly spend.
It doesn't help that spending money on your Tamagotchi partner feels completely pointless. Your partner stands in the middle of a room, which you can decorate with tables, rugs, lamps, wall coverings, and so on. You can also dress up your partner and feed it snacks, but that's the extent of the interaction. Your partner will say a few canned lines, depending on what items you purchase, but it won't move or interact with you beyond that. On the plus side, unlike the popular Tamagotchi toys, this one doesn't require any attention whatsoever. So you can ignore it completely, which is good, because that's probably exactly what you'll end up doing.
In addition to caring for your Tamagotchi partner and playing minigames, you can interact with friends by trading pictures of cakes, bouquets, and other items you've created. You can send greeting cards or just trade pictures to show off your creations. You can also purchase items and send them to friends as gifts, as well as send a demo to a friend who doesn't have his or her own copy of the game. These are nice touches, but they aren't compelling enough to keep you playing after you've grown bored of the minigames.
Part of what makes Corner Shop 2 initially very appealing is the visual style. The characters are all bright and colorful, as well as extremely cute in a rudimentary, first-grade art class sort of way. They're also surprisingly expressive and full of character, even though most of them just look like oddly shaped blobs with seemingly random assortments of appendages and features. The Tamagotchis all speak in high-pitched gibberish that somehow seems to fit perfectly with the oddball visual motif. The music is catchy and quirky, providing a fitting backdrop for the minigames.
Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 2 is clearly designed to be played for a few minutes at a time, but you'll quickly see all the game has to offer by doing so and lose interest. Although the minigames are fun at first, and the visual style goes a long way to give the game a great sense of character, those things aren't quite enough to make the game worth the asking price. With more, challenging minigames and a good reason to keep playing them, Corner Shop 2 could have been a great game to add to your collection. As it is, it's little more than an entertaining but brief diversion.