Not all hidden object games are created equal. Many savvy game designers – including Cara Ely of the Dream Day Wedding series – are adding their own unique spin to the popular genre. While it’s not without its share of problems, Fabulous Finds is a fabulous find indeed.
Here’s the premise behind this fun and fresh download: you’ve inherited a home in Carmel, California, from your Great Aunt Beatrice, but it needs some serious work to whip it into tip-top shape. In order to fund your renovation plans you decide to sell off your great aunt’s things through yard sales. Fabulous Finds is made up of three main types of game-play: a seek-and-find hidden-object task, yard sale puzzler and The Sims-like room decorator.
The first task is to go through each room and collect a number of items to unload at these themed yard sales; one theme might be "Health Nuts" (fitness items), another "Seasons and Celebrations" (costumes and such), "Fashion" (purses, shoes), "Travel and Transportation" (luggage, camera) and "Babies & Kids" (toys), and so on. Rather than read a list of words for objects to find in a messy room, you’re simply given the theme and must click on relevant objects. If you’re unsure what the item is, leave your mouse cursor on it for a moment and it will show you. After you’ve collected all the items required (such as 12), and any "helper" items (such as a charger for a camera), you’ve finished the room and can sell it all at the yard sale. If you need a hint you can ask for one, but clicking incorrectly too many times will take some time off the clock.
OK, onto the yard sale. With an angled top-down view of the front yard, customers will saunter in and begin to look around at all the items ready for sale. Hints will appear on the right-hand side of the screen, such as "the policeman is a dunk master," so you’ll drag and drop the cop onto the basketball net. Or it will say, "the doctor is looking for a twin" so you’ll connect him with the twin bed. The animated characters who traipse around your yard look great and often resemble celebs and familiar characters, including Superman, Jackie O and Marilyn Monroe. Once you successfully match a character with the correct item you’ll move on.
The third game component lets you decorate a room in the home by selecting various designs for floors, walls, curtains, beds, decor and such, and use money earned in the yard sale to unlock new items. What’s more, by following the clues displayed at the start of this The Sims-like exercise you’ll earn up to 5 stars; it might say "don’t forget the caffeine" (add a coffeemaker to your kitchen), "use wood tones and neutral stones" (for floors) and "only the finest appliances will do" (the most expensive appliances should be used).
Sounds great, no? It is a lot of fun, yes, and there’s even a mini-game, where you need to clean out a storage room by dragging and dropping items into its correct box (such as clothing, fitness and seasonal items) – all using a flashlight to see the products. But there are some issues, too.
Aside from there only being one game mode, the items you’re supposed to find can be confusing – and frustrating when you’re wrong. For instance, in the first yard sale it says a mom-to-be wants a place to sit but when you drag her onto the bench it says it’s incorrect, but a second bench hidden by shrubs was correct. As players will soon realize, the first bench is simply part of the yard backdrop for every level.
The problems are worse in the hidden object game portion. For the "Babies and Kids" theme I clicked on obvious items such as a crayon, dice, dartboard and globe — but all were incorrect! This simply isn’t fair. Similarly, in "Health Nuts," items that were correct to click on include a bike, weights and skipping rope – so why are boxing gloves wrong?
Shortcomings notwithstanding, Fabulous Finds is a fun spin on the HOG games. It would have fared much better had it not been for these annoying issues, but is still worth playing for fans of this popular genre.