In Stoogedom, there are never enough “Hey, Moe!” and “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuks!” to go around. Stooge fans are always longing for more of the trio’s zany antics. That’s why news of The Three Stooges: Treasure Hunt Hijinks brought with it a great sense of anticipation. Was it warranted? Well, knucklehead, read on. "Woo-woo-woo-woo!"
Basically a hidden-object game with a pair of mini-games thrown in for good measure, Treasure Hunt Hijinks melds a cartoon-based version of the Larry, Curly and Moe with a quest to recover the missing pieces of a treasure map purloined by their dastardly landlord Mr. G. Reedy. What ensues is a madcap seek-and-find trek across 24 locales and 88 levels of wisecracking, object-filled entertainment based on classic Stooges shorts and movies. Each level, indubitably, is augmented with a cacophony of famous Stooge slapstick and audio clips such as “What’s the matta wit you?” and “Pretty funny prank, eh bud?” (Sadly, there’s no “Ohhh. My Stradivarius!” or "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard.")
Two modes of play are provided, Relaxed and Time Frenzy. In Relaxed Mode, there’s no hurry to finish your object hunts as more than ample time exists to locate all the required objects… and have lunch while you’re at it. Time Frenzy Mode limits available time, but it’s still sufficient (up to the final levels) for pretty much all players regardless of age or mental acuity. You don’t have enough time for a pie fight, but there’s no big rush either.
The only other difference between these modes is that the latter is more restrictive. Unlike Relaxed Mode, you don’t have the full item list up front. Objects on the list are revealed one at a time after you locate the previous item. You can temporarily skip one and move on to the next object or objects (note the plural there), if necessary, and return to it later. Or, simply use a hint. However, unlike many seek-and-find games, Treasure Hunt Hijinks groups items together. For instance, rather than being asked to find a toy rocket and a teddy bear, you may simply be asked to locate two toys. Likewise with other objects, such as 10 food items, 12 animals, 15 tools or whatever the case may be. An interesting twist on the genre.
As for the hints (referenced above), you employ a device called a Sniffer that uses vacuum tubes to find the more difficult-to-locate objects. As you close in, the tube turns from red to yellow to green until you sniff out the object in question. Vacuum tubes, required for each sniff, are hidden on each screen. You can also earn them via the two included mini-games, Smack Attack and Nyuk and Duck. The former is a Simon-like game where you mimic Larry, Curly and Moe as they lay into each other with eye pokes, stomach punches, face slaps or head smacks. The latter charges you with protecting the Stooges from flying objects.
The Three Stooges: Treasure Hunt Hijinks is a fun romp for fans of the comedy trio. Loads of incorporated Stoogisms bring a nostalgic smile. Hundreds of beautifully illustrated objects and backgrounds, and dozens of familiar Stooge sound effects set the stage brilliantly with high production values all around. And, two modes of play make sure all takers can engage in the game’s Stooge-like antics at their own pace. It really is an entertaining game, especially for long-time wise guys.
Unfortunately, someone should stand up and say, “I’m sorry, Moe, it was an accident!” While overall design and implementation are quite good, some serious faux pas present themselves to Stooge aficionados, as well as seek-and-find devotees. A minor point, but one nonetheless, some of the Stooges’ more famous sound bytes are missing and those that are included are tremendously overused. Plus, there’s no pie throwing to be found anywhere! ("Oh, a chisler, eh?") Too bad given the official Three Stooges license.
More importantly from a hidden-object standpoint, the game is simply too easy, even in Time Frenzy Mode. I ended my jaunt after several hours play with over 100 accumulated yet unused vacuum tubes. For adults, and most Stooge fans are, it’s just not challenging enough.
Still, given its weaknesses, The Three Stooges: Treasure Hunt Hijinks is a no-brainer for fans of America’s most popular vaudeville comedy act. While not the most challenging in the hunt-and-search genre, when asked if it’s worth the investment any Stooge fan worth his weight in one-liners will respond, “Why soitenly!”