How do you make spot-the-difference puzzles engaging? You let players create their own!
Anyone who grew up reading Highlights! as a kid played has “Spot The Difference” games at some point (albeit of the non-digital variety). The idea is pretty self-explanatory: you take two images of the same scene, put them side-by-side, and spot the minute changes that have been made between them. While they may not sound exciting, such games can work well on the iPhone, provided they’re done right. FindIT 2, the sequel to FindIT, is about as exciting a time as you can expect to have with such a game thanks to the high-quality imagery and the ability for users to create new content.
On the surface, FindIT 2 provides about what you’d expect: two photos are displayed side-by-side and you need to find a certain number of differences within a time limit before you can advance to the next level. There aren’t really any extra bells or whistles to see here, since there aren’t any extra game modes outside of the basic one, nor is there any music to listen to whilst you examine images (though you can import your own playlists from iTunes).
It should be noted, however, that if you increase the game’s difficulty to “Nightmare,” you will be provided with mirrored photos (instead of the standard identical image placement), which makes things a great deal more difficult. This isn’t exactly a new game mode, but it’s different enough from standard play to note.
Some of the images are surprisingly tough to find the differences in. Whoever created the levels was obviously skilled at Photoshop, capable of manipulating images in very subtle ways. Sometimes you’ll find a pole that’s a little bit longer than its counterpart, or perhaps you’ll notice the clouds’ pattern in a sky are subtly different, or maybe there’s a shadow missing where there should be one. I’m not ashamed to say that I asked for hints from the game every now and then, and once or twice I ran out of time before I’d discovered all the differences.
FindIT 2 has over a hundred images for you to play through, and apparently has the photo catalogue from FindIT included as a bonus. These “classic” levels don’t seem to play any different (though they did take a surprising amount of time to load while the newer images loaded rather quickly).
There’s also a section that will allow players to download imagery that’s been uploaded by the FindIT community, which brings us to the FindIT Editor. A free downloadable add-on, this is actually a pretty brilliant idea for increasing the game’s appeal. The editor allows players to either select photos from their iPhone Photo Library or take a picture with the camera. You can then do some basic editing like warping portions of the image, making parts transparent and blurring areas. After editing a photo you can upload it to the online community for other players to access and assign a star rating to.
Overall, FindIT 2 is about as good a game as you’re likely to find in the Spot The Difference genre, but that doesn’t really say a lot. The game itself is a one-trick pony, no matter how competently it performs. What makes the game a bit more interesting is the ability to download and/or create new content via the game’s community. It’s certainly a decent way to kill a couple of minutes at a time, but it’s not something that’s going to keep players hooked for hours.