Ahoy! The Magician’s Handbook returns for another adventure. Instead of exploring a cursed valley, the hero goes on a quest to rescue fairies from the dread pirate Blacklore. The Magician’s Handbook 2: Blacklore beautifully integrates the game with the story so everything has a purpose, something few hidden object games pull off. However, it has a few flaws that turn the magical journey into a challenging one, maybe too challenging.

After finding all the rune stones, the magician removed a curse from Magician’s Handbook: The Cursed Valley. He waits for more adventures only to find the text disappears from the handbook. Disappointed, he returns home to a dull life while the handbook collects cobwebs. Two years later, the book wakes up. Corrigan, fairy helper to the wise wizard, asks for help in freeing the Wise Wizard and fairies from evil magician pirate Blacklore. You have until the next moonrise to free the captured fairies hidden throughout the land. Otherwise, Blacklore will come for you. Should he capture you, the fairies are trapped fore’er.

Because the hero doesn’t have inborn magic powers, he must collect enchanted objects to cast spells. Every chapter comes with five hints, but doesn’t stop thar. After using up all five, the hint meter recharges and you can use one until it recharges again. Most scenes hide black, silver and gold keys for using at Safe Haven where freed fairies go. Thar, you’ll find treasure chests worth different amounts and colors of keys. One could call for two gold keys, another needs seven black keys and so on. These can unearth bonuses including more hints, magic wands and the Repel spell. The spell, also present in the original Magician’s Handbook, turns off any scene animation so it can’t distract you from your work. A welcome bonus!

Each chapter has an interactive scene for solving puzzles, the pirate’s booty in the game. The puzzles are typical to what you find in other hidden object games with point and click puzzles mixed in. The spells you learn play a role in these puzzles. For instance, an icy scene needs the Fire spell so you can melt the ice to get what you need. You can skip these puzzles after enough time passes. 

Magician’s Handbook 2’s puzzles challenge and entertain. They’re not anything you’ve seen in many hidden object games. No Memory. No piecing together torn paper. One puzzle gives you instructions, for example, find the spyglass and the crystal ball. Then in the straight line between the two objects, use fire on an item that makes sound to release the fairy. The game puts an X on the spyglass and crystal ball for easier referencing.

Whether you like a challenge or want to move at a leisurely pace, Magician’s Handbook 2 comes with two modes: timer and no timer. Both modes come with a short version and a long version. Also, items appearing in the list of objects to find do change if you replay the game. The objects don’t move from its spots, but at least you have the opportunity to find items you haven’t found in the next go around. Both versions use the same scenes and puzzles, so thar be little difference beyond length.

The attractive hand-drawn scenes match up to the original. The original had a lot of small objects. While this one improves in this area, it still has too many little objects that strain a person’s eyes. Be prepared to bring the screen close to your face or use a magnifying glass. The lovely scenes have dark spots where some hidden items unfairly appear. Thar be nothing wrong with dark parts of a scene as long as objects aren’t hidden thar.

The keys are also small with some requiring multiple clicks before the game recognizes them. While the game’s not accepting clicks doesn’t happen as often as it has in other hidden object games, it’s a little more much especially with the added frustration of dealing with itty bitty objects. Oh, ta make matters worse, the game crashes near the end. And it keeps crashing in various parts of the game with e’ery new user.

This isn’t an ideal family game for those with kids under the age of 10. While some kids don’t scare easily, some scenes have eerie characters or animation. In one scene, ghostly children appear and disappear. You can stop this with the Repel spell, if you have it. Another has eyes in a tree with body parts around the tree (not bloody or anything).

Experienced hidden object gamers will love the challenge while those newer to the genre may find it an aggravating experience. Give the trial a try. It won’t take long before you encounter small objects to decide if it’s worth the yo-ho-ho to trek on in The Magician’s Handbook 2: Blacklore or if you should make it walk the plank.

For similar games, try Azada Ancient Magic, Treasure Seekers: The Enchanted Canvases Game, Magic Encyclopedia: First Story, and Mystic Diary: Lost Brother.