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iPad Game Review: PuppetShow: The Mystery of Joyville HD
      #40362 - 04/05/11 09:56 AM

iPad Game Review: PuppetShow: The Mystery of Joyville HD
Reviewed by Tom Slayton

Puppetshow HD is a high-quality hidden object game that takes you on an eerie adventure through Joyville, and incorporates 13 high resolution locations as well as a number of mini-games.

Gameplay

As the father of a hidden object loving 6 year-old, I have learned very well the rules of a successful game in this genre. While not everybody who plays these games is six years old, I'm willing to bet that even the older aficionados enjoy them for their inherent relaxing and peaceful qualities. Ok, here's my list:

1. Don't incorporate a timer into your game design.
2. If you must incorporate a timer into your game design, give the player the ability to turn it off.
3. Don't skimp on the mini-games; they break-up the inherent monotony of hunting for hidden objects. However, please give players the ability to skip them if they like.
4. Have a scaleable hint system to make the game accessible to as many people as possible.



I am happy to report that Puppetshow HD adheres nicely to my rules. Further, the game does an excellent job of creating a unique atmosphere. It is eerie without being creepy, and the hundreds of objects scattered over 13 locations will keep you coming back for more, long after you?ve completed the game.

Big Fish Games has opted to go with a single download supported by an in-app purchase to unlock the full game. While I don?t object to in-app purchases to unlock content, this endorsement comes with a caveat; all games that offer this should include a large, friendly ?restore purchases? button prominently displayed on the menu. This should be a required interface element as I?m guessing that the number of people who feel confident that they won?t be charged twice for in-game content is a lot smaller than it should be. Alas, Puppetshow HD does not feature one of these buttons, forcing those who are reinstalling the game to press that purchase button with much fear and trepidation. Lastly, try as I might, I couldn?t figure out how to change my name from ?player? to my usual: ?Dadster.? It is entirely possible that this is an ID10T error on my part so please feel free to set me straight if you figure it out, gentle reader.



Graphics

The graphics of Puppetshow HD are simply beautiful. The images are crystal clear, busy, and colorful. They provide a delightfully spooky ambience without being outright scary; something that is greatly appreciated by my aforementioned son. My only complaint graphically applies not only to Puppetshow HD, but also to every other hidden objects game I've ever played: when you zoom the screen, the graphics not only get larger, but fuzzier. No, this is not a feature. I'm sure this comes down to both storage and performance as you must not only render the images in a larger size, but all of the objects and their associated animations as well. Hopefully, someday, the hardware will be capable of this, and when it is, there will be much rejoicing and cries of ululation.

Sound

The in-game sounds are very subtle and complement the game nicely. It is the soundtrack, however, that really stands out. Big Fish Games has once again done a great job with their musical score. As I have said in previous reviews, I am notorious for turning off in-game music. However, with Puppetshow HD, the music really enhances the mood of the game, and heartily recommend leaving it on. Using headphones is an even better idea.



Conclusion

Puppetshow HD is a quality hidden objects game that stands out for its eerie atmosphere. It achieves this through a combination of first-rate graphics, seamless interface, and great music/sound effects. It adheres quite nicely to my Rules For Hidden Object Games (see paragraph one). My inability to change my name from player was a bit odd, and the lack of a way to easily to restore in-app purchases was mildly troublesome. However, the game itself is rock-solid, and a very fun hidden objects game with tons of atmosphere.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 5 - Beautiful graphics with an eerie atmosphere.
Sound: - 5 - Great soundtrack and nicely sampled sound effects.
Controls: - 5 - An accurate touch-screen interface is crucial for a game like this, and Puppetshow HD does not disappoint..
Gameplay: - 5 - This game is everything that a hidden object game should be. If you?re new to this genre Puppetshow HD is a great place to start. If they?re not your cup of tea, however, look elsewhere.



Playing Hints and Tips:

Tapping randomly will result in the game going dark for a few seconds. Take your time and tap with precision. There is no bonus for finishing quickly. Don't be afraid to use the in-game hints. There is no penalty for accessing this feature.


App Facts:
Developer: Big Fish Games
Release Date: Feb 17, 2011
Price: Free to download with a $4.99 IAP to unlock the full game
Buy App: Puppetshow: The Mystery of Joyville HD



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