1 Moment of Time: Silentville (2016 - PC)

An average modern hidden object game with some really beautiful scenery, an interesting mystery, and Jet Dogs Studio's trademark sense of humor, but it's too short and easy...and I wasn't fond of that physics puzzle where you have to throw baseballs into hanging baskets. I mean, why?!? Still, I think Jet Dogs is moving in the right direction with these games, they just need to be a little longer than 5-1/2 hours (that's game finished and all achievements unlocked) before I'd strongly recommend them to anyone who isn't typically into HOG's.


9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek (2013 - PC)

Meh. Even shorter and easier than 1 Moment of Time: Silentville. While the mystery had potential to be interesting, the true identity of the mayor is far too obvious from the moment you first meet him. There was one part where the music inexplicably had the sound of someone crunching an apple mixed in with it. Why??? Don't do that!! And while I understand the need for hidden object games to introduce new ideas that set them apart from the hundreds of others in the genre, I just didn't feel too strongly about the "9 clues" gimmick where you click on 9 things around a room and the main character intuits what happened there. An example of this is one part where a character is attacked by a snake, and we already know that happened, but she goes in the room and figures out exactly how he was attacked by the snake with the 9 clues. Why does it matter?


9 Clues 2: The Ward (2014 - PC)

Gameplay-wise, nearly identical to the first game in this series, and at least there were no crunching apple sound effects this time, but the story makes absolutely no god damn sense! For starters, it doesn't even continue the plot of the first game, which ended with the villain getting away. Why are we in a mental health asylum now?? There is a heavy suggestion of something supernatural going on, but then no, not really. There's a Scooby-Doo-like explanation for some of it...Okay, so the scarecrow thing was a guy in a disguise, but how do you explain the weird illusions and visions the main character keeps having?? And then there's this subplot about one of the hospital staff being replaced with a girl who looks somewhat like her, but no one notices it's not the same person? Right. The 9 clues gimmick is still not particularly interesting, although they added a bit where you have to assemble the clues in the right order first. I guess it's something.


Hide & Secret: Treasure of the Ages (2007 - PC)

Hide & Secret is as primitive as hidden object games get. It's nothing but HO scenes, which are excessively cluttered. Items are piled on top of one another in a relatively small window of space. Clicking everywhere to find things is a must in some cases. You're often made to find the same exact objects on multiple screens. There are no puzzles, no exploring, no assembling items, no animation. It's mind-numbingly boring.

There's this dumb story in-between the HO scenes in which an Indiana Jones bootleg complains about being hungry. Seriously, who wrote this crap???

I beat it in an hour, and there are no achievements, no secondary quests. About the only good thing I can say is that the music is alright, but it doesn't come with a soundtrack so it's not worth it even for that. Avoid.


Nearwood: Collector's Edition (2013 - PC)

If you like hidden object games with really pretty fantasy artwork, here's a good one that will keep you occupied for about 5-6 hours. Like most games in this genre, Nearwood is not very long or challenging, but it's so high on eye candy, almost every scene is worth a screen capture.

Nearwood does not have any "true" hidden object scenes in which you look for items on a list and only one or two become relevant or useful. The closest it gets to that are a few similar scenes that make you find all the parts to one single item. So, this could be a positive thing if you don't like hunting and pecking for stuff you'll never actually need, or it could be a negative thing if you specifically play HOG's for those scenes. I didn't mind it either way.

Like many HOG's, Nearwood has some dastardly puzzles, although I confess to looking up the solution to a sliding tile puzzle because I can't tolerate those. But what's perhaps more interesting is that (so far) it's the only HOG I've played that has final boss fights! While the main game's final boss is fought in a Simon Says minigame that can't really be lost (if you mess up, you just have to do the sequence over again until you get it right), the boss of the bonus chapter is actually possible to lose to. He's fought in a Match 3 game and you both have life meters. Too many wrong moves and you start the battle all over again. While it certainly isn't the most challenging boss fight in the world, it would be interesting to see more HOG's move in this direction.

There's also a secondary quest of finding hidden Totoro-like creatures on each scene, although it seems all that does is unlock a storybook about them that I didn't bother to read. The Steam version of this game comes with a free soundtrack, which is a definite plus because the orchestral score is really nice.


Futurama Volume Two (1999 - DVD)

I like this show, but I wonder if it hasn't aged as well as I may have hoped. Sometimes the characters feel a little "one-note". Almost all the jokes involving Zoidberg are "he's a giant crab/squid monster!!", and the show doesn't seem to quite know what to do with Amy. Sometimes the humor gets a little mean-spirited, like when the Omikronian aliens eat the orangutan and the hippie. While it's not as bad as American Dad in that regard, I kind of wonder if it was paving the way for things like it.

The consistency is sometimes off, too. At least three episodes this season made fun of the characters not knowing what a car is. But they should've learned after the first episode in which they drove one out of a museum. I thought that Fry not being able to drive was inconsistent with the series' pilot, but I just reviewed it and it turns out he rode a bicycle as a pizza delivery boy, so I guess it's not. But he should at least know what a car is, even if he can't drive one.

I laughed hysterically at Fry telling Bender, "There is no two!" (Uh, yeah, you'd just have to see the episode to know why.) But this season generally felt a little weaker than the first.




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