PC owners who dream of a life spent sailing the seven seas in search of fabulous treasure are in for a treat, as all-new arcade game Finders Keepers lets you do just that. A cleverly click-happy outing, we’re delighted to say it’s both innovative and slickly produced… we just wish the action was a little faster-paced and flush with more mid-mission excitement, so the title would prove an even greater splash.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, as we celebrate the tale of Floyd Finders, a poor seaman whose lucky gold coin has been swiped by the mischievous mer-boy. Told via a series of charming animated cutscenes – we couldn’t help but be reminded of childhood pop-up books here – Shakespeare the story isn’t, however it will effectively resonate with whimsically-inclined viewers. Better still, there’s oodles of fun to be had as you visit a whopping 168 different levels spread across several nautically-themed locales from the Bahamas to the North Pole and even Atlantis in hopes of retrieving the coveted keepsake.
Play is fairly self-explanatory, with each stage finding you in control of Floyd’s boat, which glides across the top of the screen as you press the left/right arrow keys or sail horizontally with a click of the mouse. Below lurk coral reefs and sandy sea bottoms filled with a variety of floating objects from schools of fish to squid, clams, gemstones, barrels and gifts.
Using a net that slowly swings back and forth like a pendulum, simply click to make the device fire when it’s facing a desired direction, then watch as it shoots out and grabs anything that makes contact. Depending on their size and weight, items are then reeled in by Floyd and his helpful one-eyed cat, who are awarded various cash amounts depending on every haul. Score more than a preset minimum within each level’s given time limit and you’ll successfully proceed onward, with any extra cheddar yours to apply towards the next challenge.
An intriguing concept, the setup works fairly well, with smart new challenges introduced every few stages. (Think sharks that must be fed before they eat you, polar bears who need rescuing from shards of ice or puffer fish that explode if struck, destroying nearby jewelry.) Between-mission options to spend loot at stores stocking up on performance-enhancing bonuses – i.e. bait that increases chances of valuable fish appearing, racing kits that increase your boat’s speed, strength-boosting spinach for reeling in catches faster – are also a depth-enhancing plus.
You’ll even enjoy extras like score-multiplying combos awarded for grabbing the same gems several times in a row or one-use gadgets your cat can employ to eliminate random obstacles. Let’s not forget the availability of bombs that can manually be utilized to destroy unwanted objects like chunks of kelp or pesky ice shards either. Or, while we’re at it, special scenarios that see you defending helpless animals from drowning at the hands of angry walruses or dodging water-spouting orcas to boot.
However, as much of victory actually comes down to personal talents, the game’s pretty much a stop-and-start affair, with too much downtime occurring between when you activate shots and wait for them to rewind. (Similarly, collect enough cash, and you can’t end stages early if you just want to skip ahead.) There also seems to be little rhyme or reason as to which prize is pulled back when you successfully fire at multiple overlapping objects, such as several varieties of fish swimming past one another.
The goodies stores offer don’t always seem to meaningfully affect the next level’s outcome (save in the case of time-adding clocks, always a bargain) too. Sound effects such as Floyd’s enthusiastic cheers are additionally enjoyable, yet the audio library’s far from well-populated. And, ultimately, let’s be frank… there’s only so much of the entire package one can stand in a single sitting, making it better suited for tackling during occasional coffee break-style runs than fewer marathon sessions.
Be that as it may, there’s plenty of solid entertainment value to be found in Finders Keepers, and you’ll visibly notice your skills improving the more you play. While far from the most nail-biting or addictive of casual games we’ve encountered, it nonetheless remains one of the more recommendable options for landlubbers who’d rather be riding the ocean swells.