Oh, There You Are: Escape Rosecliff Island

By John Walker on April 2nd, 2009 at 9:51 pm.

Don't try and find them all on this pic.

I love hidden object gaming. And I don’t feel like I should have to justify that to you. Why do you get like this? It’s not like it’s some big deal for someone to enjoy a jigsaw puzzle, so why must you always look down on me for enjoying myself? Look, just leave me alone.

During yesterday’s happy-go-smiles over the Plants Vs Zombies video, I spied a recently released HO PopCap/SpinTop game, Escape Rosecliff Island.

It’s the usual mix of finding awkwardly placed objects against a cluttered background, and interspersing minigames. The difference this time is they’ve tried a bit harder with those minigames. Some are still crappy rotate-the-tiles rubbish, but there’s a match-3 game in there, and wordsearch – slightly deeper and more interesting challenges. The theme is a fun, spooky island, but of course the story is completely irrelevant. What it is, is a new collection of locations to hunt for over-sized baseball bats and cryptic locks, even if some of the objects may look familiar.

There’s also a small, but nice new detail, where two objects in each location need to be combined to complete the task. Perhaps putting the sardines in the tin, or matching the skull with the crossbones. It’s slight, but it’s nice to have a more involved action.

I do wish that PopCap would apply their magic to the genre, and go further than these little details. In the same way that Bookworm Adventures takes the Bookworm idea and brings it somewhere special, or Peggle reinvents pachinko to make something so delightful, I want to see the PopCap interpretation of the Hidden Object game. SpinTop’s games get them exactly right, but only at the original concept. I want someone to take it somewhere completely new. Meanwhile, Escape Rosecliff Island does a great job of being what it already is, and that’s no bad thing. There’s a one hour demo available from PopCap’s site.

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28 Comments »

  1. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    Who enjoys jigsaw puzzles? Wierdos.

  2. Larington says:

    The Jigsaw equivalent of griefers of course – IE, wait ’til dad walks away for an hour, and finish all but the last piece before he gets back.

    Muahahahahahahahaha

  3. Meat Circus says:

    I didn’t even know there was such a genre as “hidden object games”.

    John Walker has educated me.

  4. MagnusMastah says:

    @Larington: It’s easier to shove a couple of pieces into your pocket when they’re not looking, then watch em squirm as they get towards the end of the puzzle and start thinking “oh my god, do I have enough pieces??”

  5. rei says:

    I’ve only ever played one of these things before, and that was Secrets of Great Art on Gametap. I’m not sure how representative of the genre that is, but I didn’t enjoy it much. This may partly be because I found it evil and wrong to copy-paste a fried egg into a Bouguereau… an art theme probably wasn’t the best choice.

  6. steve says:

    John Walker loves to click screen

  7. Arathain says:

    Here’s the nice thing about object finding games- there are about a million of them, with more coming out all the time, and they all have a one hour trial. Since they are all, in essence, the same (although the quality varies more than you’d think possible) you never have to actually buy one. Just move on to the next free trial.

  8. Mike Russo says:

    I am actually in the same embarrassing boat — there’s just something queasily compelling about the click-and-finding (or reverse order, better).

    I think something along the lines of what you describe — hidden object++ — does exist, though. Serpent of Isis is gettable on the Big Fish portal, and threads together a large number of locations with an actual plot and characters, and loose graphical adventure elements/puzzles. Some limited inventory, fiddling with patterns on clocks, etc. Nothing too in-depth, so it’s still quite casual, but it does a better job of avoiding the soul-crushing repitition at the heart of these things, and has some fun touches. Definitely check it out.

  9. Clovis says:

    You know, I had actually managed to scrub my brain of the fact that John Walker actually likes these games. This helps me to immensely enjoy the various things he writes. But he had to remind us…

    Seriously though, the best PC deal I ever got was on the day after Thanksgiving after the Orange Box was released. I got it for $25. I also picked up Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst for $5 because I thought it was an adventure game. I was rather disappointed that it was a “find the hidden object” game but actually enjoyed it for a few hours; especially the in between parts that were kind of like a weird one room adventure game.

    Still, the Orange Box was the deal….

  10. Clovis says:

    Oh, I forgot to add that since I am an adventure game fan the joke is obviously on me. An adventure game is like a “find the hidden object” game where you don’t even know what the hell you are looking for. Somehow this is much better and respectable.

  11. Igor Hardy says:

    Well, finding items is only a small part of adventure games gameplay. Some titles hardly introduce this element at all. Also, items in adventure games are not “hidden”. At least they are not supposed to be.

  12. Washington says:

    Hi Oney!

  13. Clippit says:

    When I played Grim Fandango and The Longest Journey (both highly regarded adventures, right?) I found the “hidden object/hidden sequence” elements to be highly irritating. Grim Fandnago had more of this than TLJ. Everything else was great (people, places, melodrama), but solving shallow-but-obscure puzzles was a real drag. Opinion!

  14. bansama says:

    I didn’t even know there was such a genre as “hidden object games”.

    it’s probably the most widespread “casual” genre now. Although I’ve grown increasingly annoyed with the overall reduction in length of recent titles. When it’s possible to finish 90% of an H.O. during the hour trial, it’s a bad sign.

    The last one I played and enjoyed a lot was Coyote’s Tale (by way of BigFish), longer than most recent ones with a fairly humorous storyline running through it. Some good mini games too — although it also has it’s fair share of bog standard ones too. It’s only downside was the hint system.

    As for the match 3 mini games, I first saw one of those within a H.O. game in Mystery P.I., The New York Fortune.

    Well off to try this one out once it finishes downloading…

  15. CG says:

    Hidden object gaming. Sounds like my life.

  16. BooleanBob says:

    For my own part I’d say my life is more akin to ‘hidden objective gaming’.

  17. AdrianWerner says:

    I also love hidden object games. Especially lately. They’ve been injecting more and more adventure games elements into those games. I mean heck…Return to Ravenhearst is bassicaly a simple adventure game with some hidden object gameplay put into the mix, not the other way around.

  18. bansama says:

    I keep hearing good things about Return to Ravenhearst, perhaps I really should play the demo.

  19. pillsxthrills says:

    All those words in the picture make awesome band names…
    just sayin’.
    Can’t tell if it’s an I or a 1 but “I Shoot Bullets” is the best, followed by “Sword Fleur-de-lis”.

  20. dingo says:

    Best ones are hands down the “Ravenhearst” games from the BigFish website. “Return” is the best, closely followed by the original one. “Madame Fate” is only loosely based on the main story but it’s still very good.

  21. Dean says:

    Said it before, but the Women’s Murder Club games are very interesting in this regard. The first is a hidden object game with adventure and puzzle elements tacked on. But the second eliminates the hidden-object finding completely, while keeping the interface typical to these sort of games, and using it to present a very basic point-and-click adventure.
    Jane Jenson is basically trying to expand the adventure game market by dressing them up as something else. It’s all very interesting. They’re not brilliant games though for err ‘non-casual gamers’

  22. Helm says:

    I want a find the hidden object game only you’re a doctor looking at x-rays trying to find the tumors. I want wonderful happy jingle when you click and pretty green gfx smiling star particles flow henceforth the pointer: BENIGN!

  23. pilouuuu says:

    Is Fleur-de-lis a reference to Le Fleur from Lost considering the game is on an island? Maybe I’m just watching too much Lost.

  24. Alan Au says:

    I remember the “hidden object” games from the old days when pixel-hunt type gameplay was common in the old Sierra adventure games, and where you would get stuck because you forgot to click on one particular pixel 2 hours ago.

  25. AdrianWerner says:

    @Alan Au
    They’re kind of like Mirrors Edge, ME took the most hated element of FPSes: jumping puzzles and built the whole fun game around it, while hidden object did the same with most hated adventure games element: pixel hunting :)

  26. vibramfivefingers says:

    Well said. I never thought I would agree with this opinion, but I’m starting to view things from a different view. I have to research more on this as it seems very interesting. One thing I don’t understand though is how everything is related together.

  27. jordan shoes says:

    i enjoy your reviews
    thanks for sharing
    look forward more posts

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