Without a doubt, 2008 will go down in the casual game history books as the “Year of the HOG.” No, not “Year of the Pig” (which was 2007, according to Chinese astrology), “HOG” as in “Hidden Object Game.”

The latest HOG puzzler is Nightshift Legacy: The Jaguars Eye, a title that once again introduces heroes, Mike and Isabel, last seen in 2007’s The Nightshift Code, who travel across the globe – and even back through time – to find the mysterious Jaguar’s Eye and wield the power it contains.

If you never played the first game, Mike, a young security guard at a museum, happens to team up with the brave adventurer, Isabel, and the two hunt for rare artifacts. But instead the U.S., Germany, Canada and the Greek Isles from last year’s story, now the daring duo begin their journey in South American jungles and make their way to Barcelona, Moscow, Mexico City and other locations, while hunting for stolen relics. Comic book-like scenes help tell the story and introduce the memorable characters along the way.

The main game-play will be familiar to HOG fans. You’re presented with a busy scene — such as a messy office, cottage, outdoor courtyard or the inside of a drawer with a magnifying glass — and you’re asked to find a dozen or more items listed at the bottom of the screen. Sometimes the items will be tied to the story or location (such as looking for a monkey, toucan and bird nests in a jungle) while at other times they’re completely irrelevant, such as a teapot, wrench or dove in a jungle.

Some items are spread out between multiple scenes, so players are asked to toggle between up to three locations to find everything listed, which adds to the challenge. If stuck, players can click the Hint button up to three times, which will reveal the general area of the well-concealed item. If you click incorrectly too many times it will shave a few seconds off the clock – but with 20 or 30 minutes to complete each scene you have more than enough time.

Some items, however, were confusing or inaccurate. For example you’re asked to look for a set of pliers in the first of six chapters. Problem is, I was clicking on a pair of pliers hanging on the wall in a barn, but I lost time off the clock because it some somehow was incorrect. Only when I found a second set of pliers did I realize this was an error on the game maker’s part.

Another beef, also found in last year’s game, was when you return to a scene a second or third time, you’ll lkely remember where everything is, making it easier to solve, which is especially true when asked to click on the same items again, like lettuce and a match. Why couldn’t the developers place these in a different place on the level?

Along with the interesting story, Nightshift Legacy excels is in its tough mini-games. This sequel will have you deciphering cryptic messages, using deduction to complete codex, dragging and dropping photograph pieces to compile clues, placing objects in order based on iconic imagery, and so on. Not only are these mini-games fun and challenging but they’re also multi-tiered, often with many stages per puzzle. If stuck, you can’t bypass the puzzle but you can use up Hints to help you along the way.

Despite a few minor issues, Nightshift Legacy: The Jaguars Eye proves to be a thrilling adventure for HOG fans, but be forewarned those mini-games will get increasingly difficult to solve as you work your way through this lengthy tale.