Originally Published: 12 August 2010
Casual gamers, it’s time for you to enjoy another hidden object game.
These are the words that casual gamers fear. It would seem that at some point in gaming history, it was deemed that all casual gamers were good at was looking at a room full of junk and being able to find three owls, a wristwatch and a jackhammer in a relatively short space of time. I don’t know how this came about – maybe someone who didn’t game much went round to a game designer’s house and helped them find an insignificant object hidden amongst many others, and suddenly a lightbulb (possibly the insignificant object in question) lit up in the designer’s mind and the rest is history.
So, that brings me to this. Casual gamers, it’s time for you to enjoy another hidden object game. Sorry. But before you run off and find a rope (hidden or otherwise) and hang yourself from the nearest high thing, just take a moment to read the rest of this. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Snark Busters is a hidden object game. But it’s one with a difference. Instead of the traditional objects to find, you’re tasked with finding pieces of an object. Once you have all the pieces you can use that object to solve a puzzle in the game world, thus allowing you to find more pieces of other objects and solve more puzzles on your trail for the illusive Snark. The game follows the story of Kira Robertson who, having been locked in her room for stealing a policeman’s helmet during the tutorial, finds herself invited to join the ranks of the Snark Busters by tracking down a Snark. But where is it?
There are over 30 locations throughout the course of the game, ranging from ornate gardens to sandy beaches and undersea labs alongside the strange mirror world locations you’ll enter from time to time. All of them are well presented, and because the objects you’re finding are fragmented, a hell of a lot less cluttered than the usual scenes you’d find in a hidden object game. This doesn’t mean, however, that the process of finding the objects is any easier – while some pieces of the objects scream out their obviousness, many pieces are fiendishly well hidden. There is a hint system available throughout the game, which you can use as often as you like (it takes time to recharge between uses) and I defy anyone to make it through to the end of the game without calling on this feature at least once. I became convinced, at one point, that the piece I needed didn’t become visible until I requested a hint because it was so bloody obvious once it was pointed out. Eagle eyes are definitely needed here.
So, what about the gameplay? Initially, I will admit that I went into this game with the view that it was just another hidden object game. I found myself surprised, as I reached the halfway point, to be playing the game during my lunch hour at work and even more surprised that I spent that evening at home finishing the bloody thing. I emailed a friend who was also playing this title to check it wasn’t just me, as I knew she wasn’t a massive fan of casual games, either, only to discover that she was also bizarrely hooked. It’s a very addictive game – each set of locations (the game is split, loosely, into worlds – solve the puzzles and unlock the exit for one world to enter another) has a myriad of things to do and puzzles to solve. Sometimes you’ll be able to see a problem that needs solving, but don’t have the tools to achieve it and sometimes you’ll have an object but not know where to use it. Unusually for a hidden object game you’re asked to engage your puzzle-solving skills in every scene, and that helps to keep the gameplay flowing and hold the player’s interest right through to the end of the tale, and more than that, will leave you wanting more as the final credits roll.
In terms of length, I think it took me about five hours from start to finish, with a healthy dose of hint use – otherwise I’d still be looking for that last slice of lemon in the Native’s hut – so the game-time is very much dependent on how good your eyes are, or how willing you are to use a hint.
However you play it, you’ll enjoy it.
Snark Busters: Welcome to the Club is a surprisingly good hidden object game. It will hold your interest throughout the length of the game, and you’ll be hankering for a sequel by the end of it. And that’s from a hardcore gamer.