Stop me if this sounds familiar: You fall asleep watching a cartoon marathon and find yourself in a dream where your friends have all turned into cartoons. This is precisely what Spencer Shay is going through while dozing in front of the boob tube. Before he wakes up, though, he needs to solve the mystery behind who transformed his buds Carly, Sam and Freddie into colorful cartoons, and why.
If you’re up for the challenge, consider downloading Nickelodeon’s iCarly: iDream in Toons, a new hidden object game ("HOG") designed for kids and teens. While not a flawless adventure, this personality-driven puzzler delivers some fun.
Based on the popular iCarly television show, iDream in Toons is a HOG-style game, arguably the most popular genre in the casual space. You know the drill: scan a busy scene for a number of items listed and then click them once you spot them, one by one. Doing so will scratch the object name from the list, such as a ball, keys, dog, boot, fish or statue. If you click on an incorrect item in the scene too many times you must watch a "random dance scene" for a few seconds (cute, but meant to be a short punishment). You can click for hints if you’re stuck — and look for a cursive "i" in each level for an extra hint.
To aid in your search, you’ll be able to use tools such as a magnifying glass or "invisodar," the latter of which exposes items you can’t see with the naked eye; simply run your mouse over the screen and an item you’re supposed to find, such as a red shoe, will magically appear in the indoor scene.
In some cases Big Blue Bubble and Nickelodeon did a great job hiding the items, such as placing a bulbous fish tank on top of a bubblegum machine (making it very hard to spot) or a colorful jigsaw puzzle piece on top of a busy purse. But in other cases there’s more than one correct answer on the screen, which is frustrating. For example, you’re asked to find a light bulb, so I clicked on a bright red light on a robot’s eye. Nope, it was another light bulb elsewhere. At another time I was looking for a little drummer, so I clicked on a wire drummer behind a wire drum kit but it was incorrect — a wooden drummer boy was nearby instead. Perhaps the game makers could’ve tested this better with play testers.
Every few levels or so you’ll be treated to a mini-game tied to the story that should lead to what’s going on in this odd cartoon world. Puzzles are plentiful and diverse, and include pattern matching, code cracking, jigsaw puzzles and trying to find the differences between two near-identical pictures. We’ve seen these kinds of mini-games before in other HOGs, of course, but keep in mind this game is for a younger audience who will likely enjoy the myriad of mini-games peppered throughout the main object-hunting game-play.
Gamers will also find themselves playing a Hangman-style word scramble game that challenges players to drag and drop letters into the correct spot in order to spell out a sentence, and thus serve as a clue.
While the guitar riffs and zany dialogue make the game upbeat and fun — in line with the TV show and ideal for the target age group — the host’s voice grew quite annoying over time because of his overly dramatic and excitable dialogue.
Overall, though, iCarly: iDream in Toons is a decent HOG for kids to teens, and for fans of the television series it’s based on. It isn’t without it’s annoying problems, plus it’s over in a couple of short hours, but might be worth downloading the demo for your kids, grandkids or younger relatives.