While not one of the better hidden-object games (HOGs) to debut in 2009, Alawar’s 1001 Nights: The Adventures Of Sindbad is a decent adventure for younger players or those new to the HOG genre. Seasoned players, however, might find this digital download simply too easy.
The fictitious story surrounds Sindbad the Sailor, his amazing adventures and how he met (and saved) his true love. Inspired by the adventures penned in 1001 Arabian Nights, this enjoyable tale includes many wild locations, monsters and supernatural foes. In the game, you must help Princess Chalida locate the seven gems of her royal crown in order to break an ancient curse that has trapped her in a wooden body.
Fans of HOGs will immediately pick up on the game mechanics: players will see a busy scene and a number of objects to find it in it. Listed at the bottom of the screen will be words — such as "goblet," "13," "squirrel" or "3 carrots" — and when you’ve found the objects in the environment you must click on them to make them disappear. There is no timer in this game, nor is there a penalty for clicking incorrectly too many times. If you need a hint, you can click to see where an item is hiding, but you’ll need to wait two or three minutes before using it again.
But there are a few main problems with 1001 Nights when it comes to the HOG component. For one, the objects are just too easy to find. In fact, I’ve found you don’t even need to look at the bottom of the screen for the list of objects as there aren’t many to begin with, plus they usually stand out in some way (i.e. more colorful than the background) and there is no penalty for clicking incorrectly. I can clear about 75 percent of the objects without even looking at one word. Not good.
Secondly, in order to give players a hint, random objects you need to find in the scene glisten for a moment — and there’s no way to turn that off in the Options menu. Third, a small beef of mine with some HOGs is when the items have nothing to do with the locations, and 1001 Nights is no exception — so expect to look for a clothespin in a shipyard, a digital camera in the desert and a kettle underwater.
Some of the twists on the classic HOG formula are more enjoyable, though, such as using your mouse like a flashlight, placing colorful gems back into the scene in order to create a magical effect or solving riddles instead of reading the name of the object. An example of the latter include "It gives light and warmth but you can’t look at it" (the sun) or "It has eight appendages but it’s not a spider" (a lobster).
The eight different kinds of mini-games are also somewhat enjoyable, such as a jigsaw puzzle, "traffic jam"-style sliding puzzle, match insects to its silhouette, and so on. But they’re far too easy and you can skip these, too.
1001 Nights isn’t a complete mess — in fact, I enjoyed the Arabic music, storyline and nearly 30 locations — but when it comes to the gameplay (the most important thing) this is merely an average diversion. Perhaps if the game was more challenging and if the developer threw in a few unique touches it would be easier to justify the purchase, but as it stands now it’s only ideal for younger or novice gamers looking for a simple HOG to sink their mouse into.