Not everything needs to change to stay satisfying. Like a mug of hot chocolate on a winter day, some pleasures are classics, time after time. GameHouse, the developer behind the Little Shop hidden object games, understands this very well. Little Shop – Memories, the fifth title in the series, simply gives us more of what we liked before: a quality hidden object game.
This time out, you’re moving to a new store. First, though, you have to clean out the attic, which triggers a series of memories, each of which is a different hidden object scene. As you complete each scene, you add a keepsake, like an old report card or ticket stub, to a scrapbook. The keepsakes tell an amusing story and have a lot of detail for those who are interested, but you can skip the story altogether if you just want to get to the gameplay.
Initially you see 15 attic locations to search, from an old trunk to a broken television. As you start to examine a location, you get access to 4 hidden object scenes, each representing a memory. These are things like your first lemonade stand, your college dorm room, your first office job. In each memory scene you’ll search for 15 items.
Over the course of the game you’ll revisit each of 12 unique memory scenes 5 times, and you’ll get more story detail as you progress. In addition to searching for Find List objects, each scene has a bonus Polaroid snapshot that goes into the back of your scrapbook and can be examined later.
You can also find several special items. Question marks add to your hint counter. Cameras and thermometers help locate items from the FIND list.
The "?" hints stay with you for the duration of the game. However, the camera and thermometer power-ups are used as soon as you click on them, so you may want to pass them by until you really need them.
As you revisit memory scenes, the Find Lists and the position of some objects change, so the gameplay remains challenging.
However, the hint system is still odd. While most HOGs have a hint system that shows the exact location of an item, Little Shop has always tried to avoid that. The primary hints show what the object looks like, but not where it is. The thermometer is a hot/cold find indicator. New to this title, the camera gives a quick flash that does show the location of the items at the top of the find list, but it only lasts a second—and the background is whited out at the same time, so it’s still hard to locate some items precisely.
We’re not sure why Gamehouse is so stubborn about not providing a conventional hint system. Still, you can replay any level as often as you like to try and get a higher score, and most players will be able to earn all trophies eventually.
After every 4 scenes, there is a mini-game, a total of 16 in all. Most are hidden object variations—find 5 pairs of objects based on clues, or find the missing parts to a picture. They’re a nice change from the regular search, although some players may need to replay them 2 or 3 times to advance.
And then there’s Blitz mode. Once you’ve completed the game in regular mode, you can try Blitz, where you get the complete item list of about 75 objects for each scene, and you try to find them all as quickly as possible. The game retains previous scores, and you can submit to the online scoreboard also.
We have to applaud the fantastic amount of detail in each scene. From the Pet Rock in the high school locker to the wooden stilts and banana seat bike at the childhood lemonade stand, it’s clear that each scene was painstakingly constructed to tell a complete story. The scenes are a pleasure to search, as even items that aren’t on the Find List are interesting.
So while there’s nothing new in Little Shop – Memories, all the old stuff is still as much fun as ever. If you have a taste for classic hidden object games, the series continues to deliver good value.