Object Hunt


The first Escape From Paradise was a great game. It had good puzzles to figure out, generic but addictive mini-games, and it had a lot of charm with the chibi-like characters with their big heads. All in all, it was a good “island survival” game that incorporated other casual game genres. Its sequel, however, was a major disappointment.

Maybe I just had my hopes up a little too high, or maybe it was dumbed down because the challenges were deemed too tough for the casual gamer; either way, the game feels like a series of chores. A series of chores with sub-par minigames to make up for the lack of riddles.

The entire game focuses on collecting jewels and tikis, and in order to do so, you need to:

  1. Lead your monkey all over the place looking for tiny 2×3 pixel jewels hidden in the grass and trees;
  2. Complete quests;
  3. Complete mini-games.
  4. Catch all the fish, dig up all the fossils, and catch all the birds.

There are multiple problems with this way of finishing a game.

  1. Those jewels are tiny. If you realized that you missed any AFTER you’ve done point 2 as well as 3, you’ll end up leading your monkey around the entire map looking for a few colored pixels.
  2. The quests are easy – there is no challenge in them at all. They come with clear directions and end up being just a series of chores.
  3. The mini-games range from match-3, hidden object, click-management…to sudoku. Name any one person who’s good at ALL of those. You’ll have to be, since there are no hints or extra powerups in sudoku or match-3. And they’re long games.
  4. Birds are VERY hard to catch.

On top of that, there’s the control scheme. You can either left click and drag a person to a spot, or you can left-click and right click. Sounds simple right? Now add to it that right click and dragging the map moves it, and once you select someone, you can’t access the map. So in order to move someone across the entire map, you’d end up doing a whole lot of dragging. The map is this tiny box at the bottom of the screen that can’t be enlarged, and has no significant markers. In other words, getting around is very frustrating.

Graphics and sound of this game is just as good as the last one, if not better. The core mechanics – hunger, thirst, sleep and social – stayed the same. Load times are minimal, and you can quit and autosave any time you like.

Escape From Paradise 2 isn’t necessarily a bad game. It’s still a fine casual game, but it seriously pales in comparison to the original. It’s just a bad sequel. It’s a step backwards. For $6.99, it’s a deal if you enjoy any of the mini-games.

If you are getting this game, I highly recommend getting the strategy guide with it. It is superbly written, with clear directions and great screenshots, even a map with all the locations. The only downside to the guide is that you can’t print things out.

Having played many, many hidden object games, I can say that they fall in the these few descriptive categories:

  1. Hastily thrown together with objects all over the place, sprites reused everywhere you look, and so easy you could finish each level in 30 seconds
  2. With actual hand drawn visuals, but with objects that doesn’t fit in well enough to suit the game
  3. Well drawn sprites, good background art, decent story, good length
  4. Superb (jaw-dropping) graphics, good story, good puzzles, good game mechanics, painfully short.

What I’m saying is that there is definitely a value to quality ratio, and you can’t have it all. Games that BFG produce themselves definitely fall into #3, with some replay value thrown in. Visions of Gold firmly stands as a contender for #4. It’s probably the only one of its kind I’ve seen so far.

The first time I booted up the game, all I can think of was – THIS IS A CASUAL GAME? The graphics reminded me most of playing a classic point and click with pre-rendered 3D backgrounds.

When it comes to production values, I haven’t seen anything like this in a casual game. Everything is rendered. The background water ripple. The skies move. The breeze drifting through the leaves actually look like wind, and not like someone’s holdinng onto the branch and shaking it up and down. Everything is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. The music, though repetitive, never got on my nerves – there is a choice to turn it down, but it does change itself to suit the environment wherever you happen to be. Visions of Gold is a stunner.

On top of that, VoG gives me one thing I’ve always wanted – a clean minimal heads-up display. There’s a menu button, the key object shortcuts in circles along the bottom, a hint button on the right, and when applicable, a skip button on the left. The beautiful backgrounds are presented in their full screen 1024 x 768 glory.

The core gameplay of VoG consist of finding a “key” object, clicking on it, then finding the objects associated with said key. You don’t need to know what you’re looking for, just how they look. Each level will have a number of key objects, and once you go through them you’re usually presented with a puzzle, be it a light switch puzzle, a jigsaw and so on, none of them being especially difficult. Coupled with a hint & puzzle skip system with no timer, it’s defitely suited to casual gamers.

I only got stuck a few times, and this was solved by moving my mouse all over the screen in a case of classic pixel-hunting. What for? Key objects. One’s usually not available until you finish the one before it, and the only way to find out is to see when your cursor changes to a hand. No help whatsoever by logic. You might get stuck, but for no more than a minute. Just click the hint button. This was a bit of a pet peeve – logical hints somewhat disappeared by the time you get to the old house, and I didn’t want to rely on the hint button.

VoG is almost perfect, BUT the game is painfully short if you know what you’re doing. If you’re stuck all the time and waiting for that hint button to fill up, this will take you a whole week to get through. If you find things pretty quickly and only rely on hints once in a while, you can get through it in two hours. Maybe less. VoG eschews the usual hidden object game’s lengthening mechanic – reusing scenes – instead lengthens the game by putting puzzles in-between scenes.

Some of the puzzles are so easy you could do them with one hand tied behind your back. And remember, there is always a hint button. And a skip button. The little backtracking that the game sometimes make you do take up very little time at all, while the story goes along like a straight arrow so you never end up back in your bedroom. I wish it did, for when the whole thing ended I was quite taken aback. That’s it? To be continued, it says, well, it better.

Is it worth it? Oh yes it is. Even if it is only 2 hours long for me. It’s well worth it. It’s well worth knowing that buying this game means that we keep this great game developer stay in business so they can bring us a sequel. Can we preorder?

I was quite enamored with the first Flood Light Games’ Agatha Christie game, Death on the Nile. To be frank, enamored wouldn’t be quite the word – I loved it. I’ve also played it too many times to be productive in my other endeavors. It was a seriously groundbreaking hidden object game. It had puzzles, it had adventure elements, it was detailed, well-drawn, and it was everything a hidden object game ought to be. I’ll also never forget that it came first.

Peril At End House is a bit of a mixed disappointment, in that regard. It does a lot of things right – 1024 x 768 resolution that runs smooth as silk, lovely classical style music in the background, unobtrusive sound effects, a puzzle in every room. However, it suffers from a lack of innovation. I guess the problem is mostly me (as will be for other gamers who has played the first game) and I’m expecting too much. Instead of getting something new, I’m getting more of the same. While this isn’t necessarily unwelcome, the time between the last game and this one led me to believe that there would be more.

This second Agatha Christie game from Floodlight games is very much like the first one. You start off with Poirot deciding that he will pursue the case, go through the rooms of each of the suspects, look for objects, find clues, and the mystery is linearly solved for you along the way. What differs the Agatha Christie games from the usual run-of-the-mill hidden object games is the attention to detail. Everything is crisp and clear, scenes are very well composed with most of the objects in plausible places.

Death on the Nile was a great game, and Peril at End House is, at the core, the same game. There aren’t any surprises – the quality is there and the puzzles are there. Instead of the old videos in between scenes, we now get a comic telling the story instead. The “saloon” where you can interview the suspects are now replaced by “CLUE” cards. “Interviews” are one-sided and really just a card in the page.

If you’ve played the first one, you will want to play this one. However, the rooms feel a lot less populated and I cannot help but feel that the game was rushed. Peril At End House should’ve been an “improvement” considering how successful the first game was, but instead of the boost in production values, there has been a cut. It’s still worth getting despite of it all; the scenes are still beautifully composed, and the story is still quality Agatha Christie.

Last time I made a walkthrough for the Agatha Christie game, I split it up in pieces, but this time I did thumbnails instead to make things a little easier. If I’m missing anything, just leave a comment and I’ll add it – this was done via one play through. If you have requests for MULTIPLE objects in a given scene, contact me.

P.S. I’ve also made a trainer for this game to stop the timer. (I don’t know how else I could’ve got through some of these levels) I’ll still need to test it some more, then I’ll release it.

Hotel Lobby – 5 keys in their boxes

Round 1 solution

Seaview Promenade – 5 Stones in Sand

Gate to End House – Spell END HOUSE

Gate to End House – 12 Pieces of Newspaper

Round 2 Solution

Parlor – 6 Papers in a Drawer

Seacliff Steps – 2 Stones in a Row

Round 3 Solution
( CORNWALLCOAST)

Freddie’s Room – 5 Tulips in a Vase

Foyer – 5 Pigs in a Row

Round 5 Solution

Round 6 Solution

Dining Room – 3 Teapots in order

Dining Room – Dismantled Radio

Round 7 Solution

Lounge – 6 Eggs on a Plate

Police Station – 3 helmets on a rack

Round 9 Solution

Beach – 6 Toys in a basket

Community Dock – 3 fishes on their hooks

Round 10 Solution

Ballroom – 5 Olives in Glass

Round 11 Solution (green, red, orange, yellow)
<!– –>

Cliff Edge of Lawn – 6 Croquet Balls

Dining Room – 3 Monks in Row

 

Β Β 

One major complaint about most object hunting games from casual gamers is the lack of replayability. Granted, they have a point. Once you’ve seen a scene 5 or 6 times, you’ve basically memorized where most everything is. Lucky Clover got around this by having a lot of locations for a given object, and then randomizing. Lucky Clover boasts 270 locations and 75 levels – much, much more than your usual object hunting game. Then again, it isn’t your usual object hunting game. It is much, much less.

The core game of Lucky Clover involves finding multiple lucky charms in each location. Each level might be just one location or a few, and you’re looking for charms. These charms are shapes that are hidden in the photographic locations, and depending on your chosen difficulty level, can be either obviously visible or very faint outlined shapes. I played this on medium, and it can sometimes be pretty hard to find the charms. Each time you find a charm, points will be added to your pot of gold. Using hints cost you gold, and gold ticks down (time is money) as you play the level. This is a pretty novel idea and I rather like it. Problem is, that’s all about all there is to this game.

There is a pretense of a mini-game, and it’s rather like finding bunnies in magicians’ hats. You get to pick a prize semi-randomly at the end of each level, and the prizes are collected and displayed on your prize screen. It’s not much of a mini-game; it requires one click. Then you’re off to look for charms again.

Lucky Clover boasts 270 locations. This is technically true. There are 270 locations. However, these locations are photographic, and they consist mostly of ruined castles (stone), a lot of fields (green), and a big patch of sky. Pretty much every one of them looks like that. They’ll also have cartoon mythical characters drawn on top of them, and while they fit the theme of the game, each one of them stands out like a sore thumb compared to the photographic backgrounds. So while there are 270 locations, it feels more like 10. Hey look, here’s another view of a ruined castle!

While some object hunting fans may enjoy the challenge of being able to hunt for semi-transparent shapes amongst yet another green hedge, I found this one addictive for an hour and then got extremely boring. It’s the monotony of it all – look for more shapes in more brown/orange stone and grass. Rinse and repeat. Our Leprechaun relieves the boredom by spouting a joke every time you start a map, and the music is fitting to the whole Irish theme, but it’s not much more than a twitch game of hide and seek.

Lucky Clover saves mid-level, and is technically a Minute Game. It loads and closes on a dime, and is also alt-tab friendly. It takes 3 clicks to exit the game – 2 more than necessary. Once you start, you can’t stop … but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the impending monotony.

You might wonder why it took me so long – I’ve written trainers for various games for kicks, and here’s my favorite hidden object game that doesn’t have a relax mode. This one’s always giving me heart palpitations. I just never thought of it before. Actually, it wasn’t my idea. It’s a commenter’s. So I loaded up the game again and wrote one…it only took 10 minutes, and another 20 minutes letting the time run down to test it. Here it is:

Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile Time Stopper.

I’ve tested it on both (oh it makes me giddy to type that) of my computers running the same version of the game. It’s the one from Reflexive, and it should work on the same game you download from other portals. All you have to do is load up the game, load up the file, unzip it, run it, and click on “stop time.” It doesn’t matter if the game is full-screen or windowed, it should work. After getting emails all the time about my trainers, here’s a run down.

What the trainer will do:

  • It will stop the timer in Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile.

What the trainer will not do:

  • It will not let you play the game for free by stopping the evaluation timer. That’s NOT what a game trainer is for.
  • It will not stop the game from penalizing you if you make random clicks – that would be too easy now, wouldn’t it?
  • It is not a Trojan. I just tested it with Avast! and it cleared, but AVG might give a false positive because it does go into memory, fetches a value from the game, and changes it.
  • It is also not a Trojan because I’m a bit of a hack when it comes to these things and the only thing I know how to do are change $ values in games and stopping timers. πŸ™‚

I’ve also only tested it on one version of the game, and since casual games rarely display their version numbers on startup screens, I have no idea which one it is. I have re-downloaded it from Reflexive to make sure I have the latest version, so any version you download as of now should work.

Users @ PlayFirst Forums mentioning Dream Day First home, nn Beta and coming your way. They also mentioned the other Oberon game Peril At End House being in beta.

Death on the Nile is still my favorite hidden object game (yes, even more so than Madame Fate – I like my games bright) and a sequel is always welcome. As for Dream Day First home – I wasn’t too impressed with the Dream Day franchise aside from the randomized object locations, but the fans will likely snap it up the moment it comes out. Both are from Oberon Games.

This is about a month old, so it’s not really new news. A riddle based building game – sounds interesting.

Videos are ONLINE again. – 10:24 PM, Nov 27, 2007.

We’re are now complete. The only thing that I’m not too sure about is the items list, and I’m still working on the multiple object images. But otherwise, All the scenario puzzle solutions are here, including the very last one. (And may I say, what a lovely ending.) I’ve only played through the game twice, so I haven’t been able to get the exact numbers of multiple objects in a character’s scene. If you want to request one be posted, please leave the object’s name as well as how many there are. For example, if you want to know where the moons are in Dante’s scene, ask for “10 moons in Dante’s scene.”You’re welcome to link to this particular post. Please do not hotlink to the images or the videos – this site is independent so bandwidth is limited. ;

As for those word puzzles, you can solve them all with these two tools:
Andy’s Anagram Solver
Dictionary.com’s Crossword Solver
One Across Crossword Solver

The Amazing Larry: Lightning bolts, L’s, Moons, Spades, and Clubs, and wands.

Lightning BoltsL'sMoonsSpadesClubs

Larry’s Puzzle: pick the corret bunny out of the hat 3 times, then rearrange the cards on the sides in ascending order from top to bottom in the same suits. Click here for a video.

Lucy Longbeard: Combs, lipsticks, razor blades, butterflies, and flies.

Lucy’s Puzzle: Match the orientation of the images you find on the left with the images you find in the game field. This will unlock the two locked spaces for reels. Move a reel to a spot and press the nearest button. Rearrange the slides, then press the button beneath the TV. If you have the slides in the right order, the big green button will flash and you can move on the next one. Click here for a video.

Remember that planes fly forward, so the clouds move backwards.

Marlena the Mermaid: Musical Notes, Seahorses, Stars, Hooks, and M’s.

Marlena’s Puzzle: This has got to be the easiest puzzle in the game. Clicking on the outside ring colors bring it to the inside, clicking on an inside ring moves it one out and one clockwise. All you have to do is match inside and outside. The best strategy is to work in an orderly fashion stacking matches next to each other. Click here for a video.

Art the Carny: B’s, Candies, Cigars and Paper clips.

Art’s Puzzle: Second easiest puzzle in the game. Left lever turns the wheels to the left, right lever turns it to the right. The star button switches between color wheels. The best strategy: move all the red ones from the blue wheel to the green, then to red. Click here for a video.

Twyla’s Puzzle: Peg puzzles are notoriously frustrating, and this is no different. Aim your mouse on the edges of the pegs and you should be OK. Just match the pegs to whatever color is spinning. At the end, put the golden teeth in the mouth. Click here for a video.

Daredevil Diva: Balloons, feathers, propellers, rockets, and matches

Bianca’s Puzzle: clicking and dragging the dials next to the icons will change the icons at the bottom of the screen. You want to form these “questions” and “answers.” Click here for a video.

Foot + Ball = Football
Victorian Man + Victorian Woman = Baby
Pan + Cake = Pancake
Lightning + Tree = Dead tree
Skull + Bones = Pirate
H2 + O = Water
Monk + Key = Monkey
Star + Fish = Starfish
Angel’s Wings + Horse = Pegasus (flying horse)
Gas Container + Match = Explosion
Rooster + Hen = Little chick

Fabiano: F’s, Horse Shoes, Nuts, and Paw Prints.

Fabiano’s Puzzle: This is so easy it isn’t even fair. Click on the words on the left to form MIND. Click on the words on the right to form “SOUL.” Click on both hearts to pump blood into the cups and see the flags fly up to the top. Click on the hammer. Click here for a video.

Lance: Bats, Darts, Nails, Safety Pins, Scissors, and Swordfishes.

Lance’s Puzzle: If this is randomized, the key is to work on one row and extrapolate the rest. If not, here are the solutions. Click here for a video.

Armado’s Puzzle: Technically, the goal is to get colored balls from the chute to fall into the same color hat, and it takes skill to set up the pegs. Realistically, the best way to solve it is to randomly click close to the hat it’s supposed to fall into and do it fast. It’s not how many balls you drop that makes the chute move; it’s a timer.

Tabitha’s Puzzle: This is a “light the board” puzzle in disguise. When you click on one tile, it’ll flip it as well as the four around it. The image you want to match is the one that’s blinking along the side. Click here for a video.

Franco’s Puzzle: This has got to be the second most annoying one. It’s cute, but the key is timing. You want to watch the though bubble of the man, then match it with the item in the woman’s hand, click on it so she’ll throw it, then count to three and click on the man so his tongue will snatch the item. Repeat in the opposite way for the woman until the heart in the back is full. Click here for a video.

Dr. Goodwill’s Puzzle: You want to use shoot the stoppers of corresponding colors into the bottles. The “Rx” holes teleports, the blank tile destroys the stopper, and the arrows redirects them. Here are the solutions: Red, Amber, Blue, and Green. Click here for a video.

Puddle’s Puzzle: Drop the items from the clown’s pockets into the mouths above, matching their colors. Click on the clown’s nose to retract the tie, and turn the dials he’s holding until each picture displays a brown and yellow honeycomb. Click on the nose again, and the bees will come out. Match the order you take the bees back to the comb to the number of honey combs that are directly above each. Click here for a video.

Dante’s Puzzle: This one is complicated. πŸ™‚ I could describe it in text, but you’re better off watching the video.

Tans’ Puzzle: You need to fill in the blank. First, complete the switch by dragging the bottom half of it to the top half. Hit the switch. Then weigh the letters from left to right on the balancing pole to make sure they balance. Do this backwards, since you’ll end up putting the letters in backwards. Click on the satellite dish to get letters. Click here for a video.

Your Fate Revealed: You need to move the puzzle pieces from the right to the left, matching all the edges. Here’s the complete solution from the left card to the right card.

Mysterious, Changing Items (Once they’re gone, they’re GONE.)

The Amazing Larry: The lock on the water “closet.”
Entrance: A bottle/flashlight next to the ticket booth.
Entrance – ticket booth: Lock and key in the middle of the screen.
Bumper Cars: A banana on the ground.
Insanerator: Hat on the right side near the fan
Insanerator – Engine: Domino bottom right.
Mermaid Dunk: Red/Green Apple bottom right.
Marlena the Mermaid: Red big E/A on the bottom right.
Lucy Longbeard: Owl, extreme top left of the screen.
Tattoo Parlour – Book: Soda Cap right in the middle of the left edge.
Amazing Larry: The joker in the hand of the magician.
Concession Stand: The “drink” on the sign right next to the cotton candy.
Clown’s Trailer: Statue on top of the luggage, just to the right of the trailer.
Pig Pen: Pool ball (8 ball or stripes) near the pumpkin at the bottom right.
Bianca the Daredevil: Clown at the back of the scene, on the left near the white rocket.
Ringmaster’s Tent: Vase on the bottom right of the screen.
The Strong Man – Trailer: Christmas ornament/Angel top left of the screen near the back arrow.
The Strong Man: Cornucopia (a horn with stuff coming out of it) on the stage right next to the stack of tires.
Lance: the word “REAL” on a sign on the wall on top of a bat.
Entrance – Blue Van: A flower sticker on the back of the seat, middle-left of the screen.
Tattoo Palour: Ball on top of the bottle of wine (moonshine.)
Rocket Ride: A baseball/tennis ball plugging up a button, bottom right of the screen.
Gypsy’s Wagon: A gnome/skull in the barrel near center right of the screen.
Shooting Gallery: Horse/Cow on top of the shelf on the right side of the screen.
Ringmaster’s Ten- Aquarium: Leaf/butterfly just before the tail of the large yellow angel fish. Near the top of the screen.
Tabitha: Poster in the background middle left.
Art the Carny: the text “You Gotta” on the sign bottom right.
Pie Eating Contest: Just to the right and below the sign in the middle, a dog that changes from one breed to another.
Pie Eating Contest – Oven: Bottom middle of the screen, a block changes from a D to an N.
Puddles: Mushrooms at the bottle right of the screen.
Clown’s Trailer – In the trailer: Fries / Burger on the floor just in front of the bright yellow clown shoes.
Three Headed Beast: near the bottom center, the top of the lion tamer’s stool goes from a star to a target.
The Photo Shack: Rubber Duckie/Man in the water barrel to the bottom left.
Dante: The horns on his head changes shapes.
Puppet Theatre: Pine Tree / Bowling pin smack in the center of the screen.
Franco: Moon/Pidgeon near the top right on the roof.

The latest MCF is out! I’m working on both a review and a walkthrough, which will be up in three blinks. What’s the hold-up, you may ask? My power supply died, and I have a new computer arriving at 7 PM sharp. At which point I transfer all my work from the backup drive (thank my pessimism) and reinstall everything. Yippee.

I did spend a bit of time with the latest MCF before my computer’s heart stopped beating, and I can say that it’s the best looking yet – the attention to detail is astonishing, and it’s of course another best seller. πŸ˜‰

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m beginning to get hidden-object-burnout-syndrome. Thankfully, there are enough twists and turns along the usual path to keep me entertained. Hidden Relics, albeit short, definitely kept my interest up unti the very last chapter.

Hidden Relics does quite a few things right: high resolution, clean objects, bright environments, extra things to hunt. It also has a great collection of mini-games that almost rival Azada. Added innovations like a handbook of what objects look like as well as bonus hidden objects to hunt for that can only be found using special gadgets add to the fun.

Let’s start with the environments. Hidden Relics feature clean, crisp backgrounds in layers so things are hidden both in, behind, and on top of the backgrounds. Objects are photo based, so it’s pretty clear what everything is. If you’re unsure what you’re looking for, there is always the handbook – an encyclopedia of exactly what you are looking for. Everything trick in the book is utilized: in plain sight, with a corner showing, with a corner of an unrecognizable piece showing, with the alpha channel set to 10% (ultra transparent pair of scissors you’ve got there!) as well as other ways of hiding objects are all here.

I’m pretty darn good at these games. Now, I can generally go through them with plenty of time left the first time around, but this one had me stressed quite a bit over the last few hard-to-find objects. Namely, the ones that I couldn’t even see after I click on the hint button. This game definitely ranks as one of the hardest but still possible ones out there due to the sheer number of hints you can have.

Speaking of hints, the game starts you off with 5, which is quite generous. When you see a little magnifying glass in each scene, you can pick it up and it’ll add another hint to your count. I’ve had up to 10 at one point, finding one in every scene. There’s another bonus to hunt as well that isn’t as necessary: the gas can. Basically, traveling from one location to the next costs 1 unit of gas (that applies if you’re going to the next town or flying the entire way across Europe) and each location hides 1 gas can to find. It doesn’t add a whole lot to the game play, but it does restrict those who likes to leave a couple in each location and “come back later.”

Hidden Relics has 5 mini-games built in that are quite a lot of fun to do – there are the loads of usual image manipulation ones (jigsaws and sliders) as well as memory and Hanoi’s Tower. They’re not particularly hard, and really just there to unlock another mini-game-like part of the core game. Each time you unlock a “gadget” you can use it in the core game to find special hidden antiques.

These gadgets range from the common ones like a magnifier and x-ray goggles, and mostly you just try to look for things that aren’t there when you don’t have the gadget over a part of the scene. They each have their own graphical filter effects, but the one that really confused the heck out of me was the Sonic Resonator. I don’t know whose idea it is, but this particular gadget twists the image behind it and animates it so you’d get dizzy just looking at it. Its sole purpose is to find special antiques that makes music, but I’m sure it could’ve been better represented than with wiggly lines.

The antique list also tend to “fall off” the screen. There are only so many slots in the “special objects” list, and whatever cannot fit on there is simply not shown until you find some of them. Once you find a special antique, you will be rewarded with a description. That’s it. I don’t see a book full of these objects to look at, and I don’t see a handbook that you can access via the main menu to scroll through at my leisure either. For a mini-game, that doesn’t seem very rewarding. You could skip it and get a lower letter grade, and even if you grades were low you can still play through hard on the next play mode.

Like in other object hunting games, Hidden Relics suffer from the randomization problem. It doesn’t randomize intelligently. If you were presented with two of the same scenes in sucessive chapters, you could see half the list repeated in the same scenes. Certainly makes the game easier, but that’s not exactly its intention.

While Hidden Relics features a higher resolution than other object hunting games (1024 x 768) it is definitely leaps and bounds ahead in terms of its graphics engine. Ravenhearst at 640 x 480 can run pretty sluggishly sometimes, yet Hidden Relics at this high resolution suffers no slow-downs or lag whatsoever on this mid-range computer. Whatever they did to make it so efficient, they did it right.

While I do love the new resolution, I can never understand why the HUD is huge. I mean, it’s huge. Screen real estate is precious; it should be as much hunting screen as possible! The waste of space in this game rivals that of Mortimer Beckett. If you believe I’m being overly critical here, let’s think about it this way. The game screen in this game is 800×600. The entire screen is 1024×768. (800×600)/(1024×768) x 100% = 61%. Let’s look at Hidden Expedition: Everest. (800×510)/(800×600) x 100% = 85%. That’s a whole 24% of screen real estate not being taken up by unnecessary graphical user interface elements.

And by unnecessary, I really mean it. The hint button is huge, the clock is huge, the buttons along the bottom for gadgets all large. Sure, you might argue that pixel by pixel, there’s more object hunting to be had in Hidden Relics, but it’ll all look the same on a 19″ monitor. Not many people play their hidden object games in window mode; the more of the screen used in hiding objects, the better.

Another minor glitch that might annoy some but not others: no alt-tab support. It’s more of a “weird” alt-tab support, since it’d alt-tab to my windows being the native resolution of the game isntead of my usual resolution. No biggie – I can still take notes, but working at the same time is out of the question. Some older gamers prefer their resolution at 800 x 600 at all times, and the 1024 x 768 might pose problems.

Hidden Relics has no “timeless” mode, which could exclude a huge number of gamers. It does save mid-game, but objects will reappear if you exit an area and come back to it (your list will remain the same, but the area will be cluttered again.) When you finish the game once, you can start a new game on “hard” which really just means a more stringent timer. The game isn’t especially long, at 10 chapters, it could easily be finished in an afternoon. The last chapter, however, require you to visit every location, and it can be a bit of a drawn-out affair. Overall, it’s a great game – the pros out-weigh the cons.

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