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By Erin Bell | May 20, 2008 |

If you've ever found yourself clicking on random basketballs, elephants or telephones and wondering why, you're not alone. Hidden object fans frequently find themselves in this situation, since certain games are better than others about including items that fitthe plot or time period that the game is meant to represent. The Clumsys is full of items that don't belong, but in this case it's on purpose.

Let me back up a bit. Albert is likely the coolest grandpa ever, for the simple fact that he keeps a time machine in an old barn on his property. When grandson Tim and his buddies come to the farm to celebrate Tim's birthday, the kids inevitably discover the time machine and accidentally get transported to different years in the past – one child to each era for a total of 20.

It falls to Helen (who is probably Tim's mother and Albert's daughter although the relationship isn't fully clear) to use the time machine to travel back and retrieve each child, fixing any inaccuracies that may have occurred along the way. Kids will be kids, after all, and the tykes couldn't seem to resist leaving modern items behind and causing bits of mischief here and there. Oh, and the kids have also broken all of Albert's cool gadgets, so Helen is also on the lookout for gadget pieces that can be reassembled into cool toys that will aid her search.

Instead of a list of items to find per location, players will have to rely on their eyes to identify any items that seem out of place in whatever era Helen has travelled to, like the life preserver in ancient Greece, or the speaker cabinet in Renaissance Italy's Sistine Chapel.

There are four things to do in each location. Once modern items have been cleared out, the next phase is a find-and-replace challenge where items have been moved and you have to find them (based on a name and object silhouette provided), then put it back in their original locations. This last part can be tricky to do given that you only have a small black-and-white image to go by when trying to see where in the scene the object belongs.

The next phase is Fix, where you have to undo whatever mischief the child has created. During the siege of Troy scene, for example, he has managed to pull all four wheels off of the Trojan Horse so you must find and reattach them. Many of these– like getting to wash doodles off of Rembrandt's paintings with a wet rag – are clever and funny.

When that's done, it's time to find the child using the gadgets that you've pieced back together. It's up to you which gadget to use, but some work better in certain situations. The Tracking Device, for example, lets you follow footprints and handprints to the child's hiding place, while the Heat Sensor lets you look for suspicious shapes. Once you've found the child you can lay that era to rest, and you'll be treated to some interesting historical facts about it.

If there's one thing holding The Clumsys back, it's that there's occasionally some ambiguity about which items belong and don't belong, especially in scenes that are approaching the modern era. Why, for example, would a coloring book and dice be considered out of place in 1962? And why does the mouse not belong in Marie Antoinette's dining room but the banana peel on the floor does?

This isn't a deal-breaker though, because you can always get un-stuck by using the "inconsistency locator," aka the game's unlimited hints system. Hints recharge over time and come in four strengths, each of which takes longer to charge than the last. The lowest strength offers an arrow pointing in the direction of the hint, while the highest strength basically highlights the item's location and leaves nothing to chance. There are also no time limits.

Theme-wise, The Clumsys is a riot. The graphics are wonderful, with extra touches like the objects that float back and forth onboard the Apollo shuttle to represent zero gravity. Each child's antics, coupled with a story that explores many interesting eras of history, will keep players entertained across the game's impressive length.

Pros:

  • Fun and original theme. Great production values. Interesting scenery and challenges. Long length with replay value.

Cons:

  • Some ambiguity about which items belong in a scene.
Read more: The Clumsys, Gogii Games

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