Imagine a fairytale kingdom packed so full of junk that you could hardly move. No, it’s not a hidden object game! It’s Cindy’s Travels: Flooded Kingdom, a perky match-3 puzzle game that has you navigating through a cluttered kingdom in search of the source of the world’s useless rubbish.
To quote the game, “The junk has flooded the kingdom!” Nobody can manage to stop it, until a maid named Cinderella discovers a magic mirror with junk-destroying powers. The story develops as you play, basically sending you off in all sorts of wrong directions trying to find the source of the kingdom’s chaos. As you may have guessed, the English in the story can sometimes be a bit awkward, but you can still follow along. Yes, it’s a silly story, but amusing and lighthearted.
Your goal is to help Cindy navigate through the “junk” around her by making matches of 3 or more. The screens are animated, and shown from a top down perspective as Cindy makes her way across the board. As you play, you’ll be presented with many paths that Cindy must travel. In order to help her along, you need to clear the tiles directly in front of her, following along the highlighted pathway.
By clearing items on the path shown, you can figure out what to do next. For example, you will often need to clear a path to speak with a character on the screen, who will talk with you, or give you a special item. Sometimes you’ll need to give inventory items to people on the screen in order to send yourself in the right direction. It’s a neat idea, and works pretty well.
There’s no timer, which makes for a change of pace. The emphasis is definitely on strategy. Tiles can be connected by holding down the mouse button, and tracing along the connected tiles. Once you’ve match up 3 or more tiles, they will be cleared from the board, allowing Cindy to move forward.
In a new twist, Cindy can also be part of a chain as a connecting link, allowing you to match tile chains of different types, provided that Cindy is in the middle. There are also the usual power- ups and obstacles. You don’t really need to use the power-ups, since there is no timer, but they’re nice to have anyhow. The power-ups include a hammer (which breaks one tile), a refresh button (which changes all the tiles), a skip button (which lets Cindy jump 2 steps ahead), a bag (that allows you to gather all tiles of one type), and a meteorite shower (which destroys the tile in front of Cindy, plus a few others). The obstacles include chained tiles, which must be included in one or two matches in order to be freed and cleared. Obstacles also include stones, which disappear when combined in matches with other nearby tiles.
Making advanced combos can be a bit tricky, because you have to do things in a certain way for the game to respond. For example, if you want to use Cindy as a link between tile sets of the same type, you must connect at least three tiles before connecting to two more after her, and not the other way around or it won’t register.
You encounter mini-games occasionally, as you progress. The mini games are very quick and easy to beat, but they break up the levels a bit. They include short rounds of hidden object, slider puzzle, or marble popper gameplay.
Cindy’s Travels: Flooded Kingdom is definitely intended as a family game that aims to appeal to both kids and adults. It features some very upbeat music, and bright and colorful graphics. The whole thing has a "wholesome" positive feeling to it, with a gentle story and nothing too intense or unpleasant.
There are lots of cool visual effects, like day and night screens, and different lighting effects. Suffice to say, one of the strongest elements in Cindy’s Travels: Flooded Kingdom is the excellent graphics.
There are about 70 different rounds to play through, each getting slightly larger as you progress, so there’s plenty of game play. It’s fairly long, so you can expect to play around 6-8 hours before you complete it.
You can adjust the difficulty level on a sliding scale, which is something you don’t see too often. It doesn’t appear to have much impact on the challenge of the game play, however.
On the downside, you can see everything the game has to offer very quickly, and after that you progress through the boards in a similar fashion. In this sense, it can be a bit repetitive. It would have been nice to have new power-ups or challenges added as you progress, as an incentive to keep playing.
You can replay any board you like by clicking the replay button on the main menu. However, there’s really no reason to do this, unless you particularly like a certain round, since the game is about progressing through levels and doesn’t involve a score or rank. It would have really been nice to have a scoring system, or some type of incentive to make large combos. The game itself allows for plenty of excellent combos and strategies, but there’s a notable lack of reward for doing so.
Overall, Cindy’s Travels: Flooded Kingdom is an attractive match-3 game, with some interesting twists. The story is silly but fun, and the adjustable difficulty level makes it suitable as a family game. However, it lacks a bit of addictive value, due in part to a lack of a score or timer, and also due to repetitive gameplay with few additions as you progress. Because of this, it’s probably best suited for people looking for a game to relax with or share with their kids, instead of those match-3 fans who crave a competitive challenge.