Pictureka! Museum Mayhem is a quirky hidden object game based on Hasbro’s board game of the same name, and played entirely in one background. The objects include some very un-museum-like fare, like space aliens, an assortment of knives, a whole bunch fo fish, and lots of hairy people. Still, it’s got personality, and there are several new twists that make it different than the usual "HOG."
When the museum is raided by crooks and vandals, it’s up to the curator to clean up the place and catch the criminals. Her talking pet Artie, a big-headed dog with a biscuit addiction, reluctantly agrees to help. He’s no Scooby Doo, but he gets the job done.
As you play, you are asked to find hidden objects in a cluttered screen. Everything is done in a red and blue tint, so you can’t use colors as a guide. Instead of a list, you are given cards with descriptions on them. For example, you may be asked to find sharp objects, jungle animals, objects with teeth, or things that swim. You’ll also be given a number, which indicates how many of these objects you must find in order to clear the card.
In order to win a round, you have to collect enough doggy biscuits to move Artie to the statue on the right side of the screen. Each card has a number of biscuits on it. Red cards are worth three biscuits, green are worth two, and blue are worth one. You need to get Artie across the screen before the timer runs out. If you fail to do so, you’ll need to replay the round. Expect to do this a lot in the beginning, especially when you only get one card at a time. Things get easier once you’re given three cards, and are familiar with the objects and criteria.
Too many invalid clicks results in a time penalty. You’re only warned once, and after that the time is subtracted without a mention, so you need to keep your eye on the clock.
At random intervals, you also have to fend off a bandit. You lose whatever cards you were working on, the timer disappears, and you’re given a series of gold cards to clear. These cards ask you to find the same sort of things as in the main game. However, the bandit continually steals money as you search, so you need to work quickly. This part is kind of annoying, since it breaks the speed of the game, and you have to start over with a new bunch of cards once it’s over.
You get a hint each round, plus you can pass on a card anytime by clicking the pass button. You can also earn more points by clearing cards of the same color in a sequence. This multiplier is shown in the corner of the card.
Once you’ve won several rounds and cleared enough objects, an exhibit and ridiculous made-up fact are revealed. After several exhibits are completed, you are able to advance to the next hall in the museum. Don’t get too excited… all of the halls are exactly the same. Yup, that means the same objects, and the same criteria, over and over again. This can get pretty stale after a few hours. Granted, some of the criteria are quite clever. Letters may refer to the alphabet or mail, and horns may refer to those on an animals head, or the musical variety. Still, it’s hard to get excited when you’ve found the same smelly socks at least twenty times.
Despite being monotonous in color and variety, the artwork is quirky and cute. The music is pretty good, and simple. You can replay rounds over and over, so you can’t really lose. The challenge is good to start, but becomes easier as you play. The length is also pretty good, lasting at least 4 hours, and probably longer if you need to replay the boards over and over.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t always accept items that it should. Beavers can swim, and so can people. Umbrella handles are generally made of wood. Still, none of these items were accepted when I tried. Stranger still, some objects are accepted which don’t make much sense. Sharp things include a hammer, a chameleon, a rabbit, and an octopus with a ray gun. It wasn’t about the teeth, either, because a space monster with big teeth was not considered a sharp thing. Also, a belt was considered a tool, and a shower was considered an object with ropes or wires. This sort of thing happened quite frequently.
Pictureka! Museum Mayhem incorporates some clever and original ideas, like using descriptions instead of object lists, and using cards with different values to advance the game. These strengths, however, aren’t able to counter the various weaknesses, like monotonous items and lists, and a bland background which never changes. There is a lot of potential, but the sheer repetition makes it tough to play for very long. It would be nice to see some of the same game concepts applied to a game with more interesting backgrounds and a much larger set of objects.