Everybody loves presents. Getting them, giving them -it’s all the same. Presents make everyone’s day just a little brighter. That’s why we were so thrilled to discover a game that’s all about finding gifts that have been hidden in all sorts of places! 1000 Find ‘Em All offers up a great blend of GPS and offline gameplay with some charming art and funny writing to round out it’s delights. It’s so disheartening, then, that the game had its share of weaknesses too.

Offering up three modes of gift collection, 1000 Find ‘Em All is a title that encourages different modes of play to complete your objective. The first mode, which is the only one that can be enjoyed offline, takes place in a game world that you’ll explore to find presents. The world is initially black and white, with the areas you’ve explored turning to color. It’s a fun and pretty aesthetic that reminded us a lot of De Blob.

 Find 'Em All
The presents you’ll find here will be hiding in highlighted areas that you can interact with. You’ll open doors, turn on windmills, and tear apart bushes in an effort to find the ever-elusive items. And when you find them, they’re always accompanied by a silly and fun description that often had us in stitches.

This first mode offers up a fun, simple, almost zen-like experience. In contrast the second mode tries to get you up and active. Using the GPS functionality of the iPhone, virtual presents will be hidden all over your neighbourhood. To collect them you’ll need to walk to their location. GPS games are always a hoot, and this is one that gives you a great reason to go for a stroll every afternoon.

The final mode is one that requires you to find other players of 1000 Find ‘Em All to exchange gifts. A great idea, but one that proved impossibly difficult – but you’ll hear more on that later in the review.

The light-hearted fun in this experience came to a grinding halt for us after only a few hours of play. Our character had explored behind a tree and found himself completely trapped. There was nothing we could do to free the little guy. The level design had missed a step, and the only way we could explore the gameworld further was to delete the app from our iPhone and start our adventure over again. It might not have been problematic if we’d only found a handful of items – but can you imagine being at 900 items after dozens of hours of play and getting trapped behind a rock or a tree? The thought alone kept us from wanting to try again.

 Find 'Em All

The offline game world wasn’t the only element of 1000 Find ‘Em All to have problems, either. Gift exchange, while great in theory, is pretty much non-existent. At first we thought it may have been because we weren’t living in a major metropolitan area, so we went for a drive and put it under the toughest test we could find – a comic book convention in Toronto. With thousands of people under the same roof in Canada’s largest city, most of whom fit the target demographic for iPhone gaming, we couldn’t find one person through the gifting system. It was the same story when we were driving around the city, too.

Speaking of driving, vehicles are behind the game’s third and final flaw; cheating in GPS mode is outstandingly simple. With my wife at the wheel and myself in the passenger seat, it was all too easy to fire up 1000 Find ‘Em All and collect gifts at lightning speed in GPS mode. While strong-willed gamers will certainly avoid such temptations, you can’t avoid the fact that the opportunity is there for the taking.

When we enjoyed 1000 Find ‘Em All, we enjoyed it a lot. But between getting a character trapped, stumbling across an obvious cheat, and a gifting system that will never be used, 1000 Find ‘Em All is a flawed experience that’s hard to recommend. If you can handle starting over once you’re stuck and you can keep yourself from taking advantage of some easy cheats, there’s a charm here that’s easy to fall in love with. If not, then you’ll likely find that 1000 Find ‘Em All has fantastic potential that it simply fails to live up to.