Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hidden Mysteries: Civil War -- a review

This is a rewrite of an old post of mine, about a different hidden object game with a different coupon.  Since I'm moving things over slowly, I figured I'd update it instead of posting the old info.

I’m posting this specifically because Big Fish Games has a special on one of their hidden object games, Hidden Mysteries - Civil War, for Memorial Day.  $.99 for the game, available for either Mac or PC.  I have no idea how long the sale goes, so check it out quickly if you are interested.  They also have a time management game, Megaplex Madness, on sale for the same price.  Maybe I'll do a review of time management games too.  We'll see.


In general, I don’t think the hidden object genre of games is worth the $20 or so they say they sell for, but a buck, well, that’s another story.

So, first, the hidden object games.  The plot lines vary, but they all involve you going from place to place, room to room, or something.  You get a list of things to look for, and you need to click on those items.  There is generally some sort of hint function to help you find some of the harder to locate items.  There is usually a time limit. 

Most of the games have other mini-games that come in between some of the hidden object puzzles.  There will be a ripped up map, letter, picture, or something that you have to piece back together, or something of that sort.

Issues in these games:  a lot of the plots involve murders or other mysteries, or ghosts, or curses.  If you can’t tell what the plotline is, download it and try it.  Another possible issue is that many of the games have you looking for weapon items -- not something I mind, but some people might.

What I like about many of them is that the kids need to be reading in order to solve them.  Not necessarily a lot of reading -- and if that is likely to be an issue, I’d advise downloading the program and doing the hour free trial to see how reading intensive it is.  Some, like Count of Monte Cristo, require a fair amount of reading to set up the storyline, and after that, it is mostly reading the items to be found, and reading a few sentences here and there.  Games like these, I can take my sort-of readers, sit with them for the first few minutes, and let them go.

I have played the entire Civil War game, but it has been awhile.  There is a fair amount of reading involved, though a lot of it could be skipped (the little summaries of the various battles aren't necessary to the game, but I will make my kids read them for the educational value).  You are following the fortunes of a couple soldiers in the Civil War as you go and do hidden object searches at various battlefields.  The music sounds very Civil War-era, and the artist created some really great scenes for this.  This doesn't replace actually studying the Civil War, but for a child learning about this time period, it could be a really nice, fun bonus.  This is one of the best hidden object games I have looked at, I think.  This and the Herod one I mention below. 


Overall, my opinion of the Hidden Object games is that if you are cautious about the titles you select, these make a reasonably nice thing for the kiddos to play -- they do a little reading, there is even a little vocabulary study as they try to figure out what in the world a “hank” is, or other not necessarily familiar objects.  Many of the games feature some fairly accurate scenery.

I can’t imagine doing this type of game terribly often, but it can be a nice reward -- especially when it ties into something you are studying.   I plan to do National Geographic presents Herod’s Lost Tomb while we do the Middle East in a couple weeks.

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