Fans of the Where’s Waldo books or word search puzzles in newspapers likely enjoy the new trend of “hidden object” games.
You know, those fun downloads, such as the Mystery Case Files games, that challenges players to find specific items in a cluttered environment within a predetermined amount of time.
The latest in this popular genre is Little Shop of Treasures. This GameHouse puzzler doesn’t really introduce anything that new to these types of games, but delivers a highly-polished game that’s very difficult to put down.
In Little Shop of Treasures, you just purchased a building in a small town to open your import shop, but you don’t have any money left to fix up the joint. Therefore, you decide to have a garage sale and help out other local businesses to raise money for your own store.
Game-play works as follows: players help out customers in various locations such as a garden shop, diner or magic store. As with other hide-and-seek games, you’ll see dozens of objects in an environment you need to click on within a few short minutes – but unlike puzzlers such as Mystery Case Files, where the entire list of objects is listed along the left-hand side of the screen, here you’ll see customers float up near the bottom of the screen (no more than five at a time), with the name of the product they’re looking for. Help one and the customer disappears and another pops up, until all 15 are served before the timer runs out; if you serve all of them you get a gold star for your efforts, or if you miss one, you’ll earn a silver star.
A second difference compared to most other “hidden object” games is the items are actually relevant to the level. So, in the magic shop, you’ll help customers find rabbits, top hats, handcuffs, rubber chickens, a magic wand, and so on. Or, in the garden store, you must click on items such as hoes, vegetables, a jar of pickles, a garden gnome and bucket.
Players can click on the Hint button to see a photo of what the product is they need to find (and not show you where it is, as with other games). Question marks, which are hidden throughout all the levels, can also be clicked on by players, which adds an extra Hint for when you need it going forward.
At the end of every main chapter, you’ll see your new building and the additions you earned to dress up the joint, such as a new coat of paint, better windows, awnings, plants, and so forth.
Little Shop of Treasures is a blast to play and virtually impossible to stop clicking – but it isn’t a perfect casual game. The biggest beef is that players have to return to the same store to help customers, which is fine, but most items are in the same place each time so it gets easier to complete subsequent levels if you have a semi-good memory. So, in the diner, for instance, you know the grilled shrimp is near the countertop, while the fire extinguisher is on the left-side of the restaurant and the cheese grater is at the top. Another issue is that a second bonus mode, called Blitz, can only be unlocked after each location is finished six times; the concept of unlocking extra content is a great one but it’s too bad you need to virtually finish the game before a second mode is available.
Overall, however, Little Shop of Treasures is a very good – and good-looking — “hidden object” game with hours of play at your fingertip. Happy clicking!