Micro WIT: Snark Busters

By John Walker on July 30th, 2010 at 12:19 am.

First person to try hidden object in 3D wins a nothing.

Look, I don’t much care if you disapprove of Hidden Object games. There’s kerbillions of us who think they’re great, and if we all formed together into one giant robot we’d be able to crush your puny army with our mighty object-finding fists. And we will. Snark Busters: Welcome To The Club is a rare example of an attempt to deviate from the core concept (search locations for a list of objects under the auspices of a plot so tenuous that Dan Brown would find it shameful), that succeeds in proving rather a lot of extremely silly fun.

Rather than a list of stuff to find, Snark Busters has you seek out parts of objects, which when combined create a usable tool in the scene. So gather all the hidden bits of a hammer (hidden by the usual disguises of placing them against similar background scenery, and changing their size so as to be less obvious), and you can use it to smash a vase. Assemble a cog and you can have a machine run.

Parts aren’t always available to find right away – anything unavailable is highlighted in your list in red, and either requires you find whatever is obscuring them (unlock a cupboard, scare away a bird (surprisingly often) or very frequently, complete tasks in another scene before returning). There’s seven levels, each with multiple scenes, and each with scenes mirrored in a peculiarly purple alternative world. This gives more opportunity for connected puzzles – completing tasks in one version opens up new things to find in the other.

The story, and that’s “story” used so tentatively that it might crack at any moment, is about a girl who runs away from her authoritative father on a hunt for the elusive Snark. This, of course, causes her to transport herself through mirrors to strange locations, while her father at home panics that she has been kidnapped.

However, if anyone can finish the game and tell me what a single moment of it had to do with hunting, or indeed busting, a Snark, I’ll be awfully grateful. It just sort of stops, as if it forgot what it was about, and credits start rolling.

Still, for $10 it’s a good two to three hours well spent. It looks lovely, the music is great, and there’s that hypnotically relaxing fun of scouring the screen for that elusive object only to discover it was in the middle of the picture, three feet high. There’s an hour-long free trial too.

Hidden Object Appreciating Giant Crushing Robot: GO!

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23 Comments »

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  1. Heliocentric says:

    I play hidden object games by accident all the time. A favourite being “where are my keys” its one of those with soft time limits where the slower you are the more people hate you.

    • Chris D says:

      I know that one well. It’s strangely compulsive. Every time I swear it will be my last but it keeps on sucking me back for one more go.

    • geldonyetich says:

      My favorite is, “where are the jobs.” I’ve yet to win at this game.

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      Lars Westergren says:

      I hear “spot potential partner” is popular too, even among those who don’t traditionally consider themselves gamers.

    • phuzz says:

      Oh, I’m rubbish at that one. Pretty good at “where’s my keys?” though, and it’s sequel “where’s my phone?”.

    • MartinNr5 says:

      I prefer playing Hide The Object if I get the chance. The prerequisite to this is completing the Spot the Potential Partner though.

      And isn’t a player in a way a gamer? ;)

  2. Teachable Moment says:

    Yeah, I, as a result of FINALLY GETTING ORGANISED, am finding myself with a little more time to kill over the last couple of weekends and a H.O.G. fills the gap nicely. I wouldn’t call it thrilling gameplay but it’s light fun. I tried Drawn – The Painted Tower (OK, not exactly a H.O.G.) and then Nemo’s Secret – The Nautilus, both were good to OK, then Sinister Affair – Immortal Lovers (abysmal) but this Snark one looks all right, looks like the put some effort into it. I hope it doesn’t have any “spot the difference” puzzles, they suck goats.

    Horrible photoshopping, shitty non-music, spelling errors in the text for god’s sake – spellcheck is a solved problem, surely? – I guess Big Fish (yes, I know this one isn’t by them) can crap these out by buying them for nothing from Poland or somewhere, and occasionally one or two will be good by accident.

  3. Zombat says:

    When I saw ‘snark’ I hoped it was information on episode 3 reintroducing our old friend/weapon…

  4. sana says:

    Nope, sorry. Hidden object games aren’t actually good! No robot here, only hate.

  5. Hrmm says:

    Just because they aren’t good doesn’t mean they aren’t fun…hmmm.

    These sort of things fall into personal preference, and are often guilty pleasures.

    Day of the Dead, for example, is a movie that falls firmly into this category. I found it extremely amusing, but I would never make anyone else watch it, as in all honesty, it’s a horrible, horrible movie, though due primarily to their refusal to not yell.

    I’m sure you have some of these.

    • Hrmm says:

      Silly England and your silly not being in my time zone.. :(

    • Xercies says:

      Hey! Day of the Dead is my favourite Romero zombie movie. Its the best at trying to creep you out i think with all its surreal dream sequences, and does the social commentary well.

    • Matt says:

      I was really, really not prepared for the brutal deaths at the end of that film. Just… horrific.

  6. robrob says:

    The Murder She Wrote game did a similar thing where you had to find things in the scene to use on other things, kind of like an inventory puzzle. So you would have to find a hammer then use it on a cat to break the cat open and feast on its inside or something.

  7. Jules says:

    I read “sharks” and thought you’d have to shoot sharks that were hiding in the scenery with a harpoon.

  8. Guildenstern says:

    So basically those games are like all bad parts of point-and-click adventures with all good parts taken out?

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      Arathain says:

      The curious thing is that this statement is kind of true. Yet, somehow, despite being composed of the sorts screen trawling that brings point and click adventure gamers out in shudders, they manage to be strangely compellling.

      Funny how that works, isn’t it?

      My wife played through one recently… don’t remember it’s name. No, wait, I think it was Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove. It was quite something; tons of really well drawn locations, some fairly decent puzzles and a whole big heap of atmosphere. I’m not into the genre, but I was impressed.

  9. HopperUK says:

    Thanks for this; I’ve recommended it to my mum, because she adores these games. And I quite like em too. Not every game has to be an amazing experience, sometimes I only want to engage the sort of brain-muscles I use to play Solitaire.

  10. Acosta says:

    Hey John, next post I hope you update us about the joy of playing FarmVille and how you are too old and rusty to play Starcraft 2. We’ll still love you, grandpa.

    • Wulf says:

      Farmville != Hidden Object games.

      Often, hidden object games are about an appreciation of art, since they usually have some fairly fabulous artists working on them. It’s something that only those who actually play the genre will understand, really. And being an art fan myself, and someone who tends to live and breathe art, I dig them. Well, some of them, at least. Not all of them are such a visual feast, some are a bit crap.

      My favorite of which is still Drawn: The Painted Tower, because they went out of their way to make that look beautiful, and I believe I came across that long before John mentioned it as well, as something quite that pretty simply cannot escape my gaze for long. And if you like the art, then the hidden object gameplay can be quite relaxing, because you’re learning to study and see art in a different way.

      So really, a comment like this shows a lack of understanding of hidden object games, and the more far-reaching issue that comes with a lack of understanding of art (period), too. :p Farmville isn’t really arty or pretty, it looks as crap as World of Warcraft (yes, I went there).

  11. Acosta says:

    For god’s sake Wulf, get some sense of humour :P

  12. R13 says:

    Game is okayish, but music is TERRIBLY unfitting to the game and by so, annoying. Also, some of the objects on the screen have different resolution than the others, making e.g. trees by the fountain a horrible, pixelated mess. Also falling leaves sometimes show some artifacts.
    I played through the trial, and enjoyed it, too bad it’s so limited. I mean, come on, every screen means completely new and different objects? I can’t take torch from the beach to light it at the stove in the kitchen? That’s stupid.

  13. Risingson says:

    Unavailable in spain :(

    P.S. my favourite hidden object game is “look for the glasses”. The twist it has is that it’s not only a time-based game, but when I find the glasses then another object from my inventory, like the keys, is missing.