The Amazon Kindle might not have found its way to our shores yet, but those after some digital reading now have a decent solution in 100 Classic Book Collection.
Part of Nintendo's Touch! Generations series of edutainment that has done wonders in getting the console into the hands of non-gamers, 100 Classic Book Collection is self explanatory – it's a compilation of 100 of the best books from yesteryear. Shakespeare plays rub shoulders with Dickens novels which sit proudly next to the weighty Les Miserables.
Given the small size of the screen and the low resolutions available, you might wonder if it is actually possible to read large blocks of text on the DS without going blind. Thankfully, developers Genius Sonority have done a great job in working around the hardware limitations. The text is large and clear, and by turning the console on its side, the DS becomes a reasonable simulation of a book.
Navigation is also clean and easy. The DS's D-pad can be used to flip pages, or alternatively a tap or swipe on either side of the touch screen will turn the page. As a concession to fit the text on the small screens, only a tiny fraction of a real page of text fits on each DS ‘page’, so the typical book runs to a few thousand pages (with Les Miserabes capping things at over 10,000 pages), so it’s just as well that the navigation is painless.
Adding further value to an already great-value purchase, 100 Classic Book Collection makes good use of the Nintendo WiFi connection. Additional books can be downloaded – for free, no less – and then stored for reading later. Up to 10 additional books can be added to the game's memory in this way, from an online library that promises to keep growing. Once finished, the user is free to delete the book and download something different.
The game also features a rudimentary ratings system. Once a book is read, a score from 1-10 can be given to it. The next time you take the game online, you can update the global rankings, and then select which book to read next based on the overall scores each are given.
Some nice touches have been added in. The cartridge comes with a variety of ambient soundtracks to play in the background as you read. Ranging from airport lobbies, to babbling streams and the sound of a relaxing summer evening in the park, the “music” is successful at being relaxing without distracting.
Finally, Genius Sonority has thrown in a fun little feature starring a wise owl. He'll ask you a few questions about your personality, and based on the responses, will come up with three suggestions for a book you might like to read. While a few brief questions as simple as “do you dream at night?” won't necessarily save you from getting halfway through a book before realising you don't like it at all, it's a neat toy nonetheless.
100 Classic Book Collection is a class package that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the greats of literature. Easy to navigate, easy to read, and offering plenty of value, it is easily one of the better titles in the Touch! Generations line.