This is officially the cutest game on the DS.
Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop, while probably the cutest game I've played in years, confounds me to no end. If anybody around here loves strange and cute games, it's me. I was the first guy around town to have one of the original U.S. Tamagotchis when they became hip, but I can't imagine paying the thirty bucks for Corner Shop and getting that much enjoyment out of its mere eleven simplistic minigames. It's coming up on a million units in sales in Japan, and that boggles my mind because it's like somebody knows something I don't.
The presentation is fantastic, with its unbelievable cuteness, great music, and wacky art (it's pretty much a rule to mention that this game was done by the PaRappa the Rapper team). The sound effects are fantastic; they sound something like cartoon-voice Japanese onomatopoeia. It sounds strange, but it's quite nice, and with the happy, mellow music, it's really therapeutic, like the game is massaging my brain.
The player recruits one of three Tamagotchi characters and gets cracking on the shopkeeping; other Tamagotchis come in one at a time and are to be given with excellent customer service on a scale of zero to three smiley faces. Please the right customer, and shops get upgraded, while new ones open. The actual shop minigames are often matching games or a step-by-step set of tasks. The bakery makes for an interesting match-the-picture minigame, but the Takoyaki shop is just repetitive work. In fact, pretty much all of the minigames get repetitive after a dozen rounds, and then almost unbearable in the time it takes to fully upgrade a shop, especially since an increase of difficulty is barely noticeable, if at all. Although, I could certainly play the spa minigame for a while...
Each of the minigames is played with the stylus exclusively. Generally, the player selects the right tool or item in each minigame and arranges, operates, or places the right object in the right place. It's like a cuter, easier Trauma Center. There's plenty of spinning, rubbing, dragging, and tapping between all of the games - this would have been a great demo game for the DS launch. Now, though, it's not exactly innovative by itself, but it's still another portable game that's only possible with the stylus.
For the money, Tamagotchi Connection's eleven minigames is definitely not a goldmine of intensely fun gameplay time, but there's still some fun to be had. I would recommend snagging a used copy a few months down the road or borrowing it from a friend, but I can't in good conscience recommend buying a brand new copy at full price, even though the game is staring at me with cute puppy-dog eyes right now.