Hidden object games are hot commodity these days. You don’t have to do anything new, you don’t have to do everything right. You just have to make something to sell. So when a game comes along and spends a lot of time adding something new to the genre, you can’t help but be impressed. Forgotten Riddles – The Mayan Princess (FR-TMP) dares to be different with a riddles for hints system and a well-written story that carry echoes of the legends of Pocahontas and a Hollywood blockbuster.

FR-TMP features 26 scenes with 7-9 riddles each time you go through it. Some scenes may also be locked by a riddle that’s solved by putting a puzzle tile (that contains a riddle) to its proper spot. The riddles aren’t going to stump you – they’re easy two line rhymes, and you’re likely to quickly spot the items afterward as they’re generally not that well-hidden. Some riddles are pretty clever, and the great part about this is that each object in different scenes have different riddles attached to them. A bullhorn in one scene would have a different riddle than that found in another – so the tag line “thousands of riddles” is definitely true.

Objects in FT-TMP seems to be custom hand-drawn. Now, this is a good and a bad thing. Good: nothing ever look “out of place” like other games where objects seems to be slapped on without even a hint of drop shadow. Bad: sometimes objects can be slightly grainy or “painterly,” and in the case of “painterly,” a cat in the background could be a small dog, and a flash light could be a silver worm. Most objects are also very, very small, and more scattered than hidden. If you want a direct comparison, it looks a bit better than The Magician’s Handbook, but quite similar. The backgrounds are very well composed, however; it’s the smattering of objects that made the game just a bit too easy.

There’s a rotate puzzle between each chapter that tells the story, not unlike that found in MCF: Ravenhearst. They seem to be drawn without models as well as a knowledge of foreshortening. The story is very well-written and enjoyable and puzzles do get harder as the game wears on to avoid getting stale. My only complaint is that at the large size, everything goes dark as you solve each column or row, which makes solving the last couple of rows extremely difficult. I’m sure that isn’t their intention though, since the whole idea is to eliminate finished rows.

One of the biggest drawbacks in any hidden objects game is lack of replayability. FR-TMP suffers from a badly designed randomization system that doesn’t really do the job well. Since you’ll be visiting each scene more than once in the entire game, the player should be presented with different objects each time. The game should remember what objects were shown before, and take those out of the bag to randomize. This isn’t the case, however; in two missions, back to back, I counted 8 out of 9 objects in common in the same scene. On restarting the game, I only found 5 riddles I haven’t read before over 3 scenes. So replayability is suspect, since it’s not testing your improved ability to guess at the riddles, but rather your memorization of them.

Graphically, this isn’t the most impressive object hunting game. As far as hand painted graphics go, this doesn’t hold a candle to Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile – but that one’s best on my list. I keep getting the feeling that the artist is very good at still life but didn’t ace life drawing class. Or foreshortening. Or perspective. The music is haunting and pretty but repetitive. Ambient did a nice job of making each scene come to life, and the only thing the “sound” slider responsible seem to be the clicking sound.

You can finish this game in about 4 hours or so, but that’s really an average of how long an object hunting game lasts. I know you’d be buying it anyway – those of us who buys these games are addicted to the genre, we just have to admit it. FR:TMR tried to do something new, and that should always be applauded. There are already too many copycats in this genre, and this definitely counts as one of the originals.

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