iPad Game Review: The Mystery of the Crystal Portal 2: Beyond The Horizon HD Reviewed by Tom Slayton
The Mystery of the Crystal Portal Part 2 HD (MCP2) is, at its heart, a hidden objects game. However, to dismiss it as a simple "I Spy" experience would be an injustice. The combination of beautiful graphics, compelling story, and haunting music translates into hours of eye-squinting, brow-furrowing, yet surprisingly relaxing gameplay.
In MCP2, you will move between highly-detailed, subtly animated images in search of a multitude of objects. Collecting an object is as simple as touching and dragging it to its designated location. As these objects are collected, they disappear from the image, giving players a great sense of completion as each room is nicely tidied while you solve it. Some things can be found in plain sight, however most are camouflaged, and still others are hiding within other objects. To further complicate things, some objects must be created by combining yet other objects. If this sounds confusing, it is not. Each item or collection point opens into a small wheel containing the outline of the things that must be found, keeping your screen uncluttered and organized. Objects that can be manipulated glow or sparkle to prevent you from tapping a hole of frustration into the glass of your iPad as you search for something to interact with. Additionally, the hint system is helpful, yet restrained, ensuring that even the most impatient player will be forced to slow down and stroll through this game.
The story that is wrapped around this game is pretty standard fantasy fare regarding a lost father and the search for Atlantis. While this may not be original, it is well-scripted, and interesting enough that it keeps you moving forward to unravel the plot.
The graphics of MCP2 are hand-drawn works of eclectic beauty. The sheer number and variety of objects boggles the mind, and the subtle use of lighting and animation means that you may find yourself taking a moment to just stare at each image. I was surprised, however, to be greeted by the perfect likeness of Marty Feldman as he appeared in Young Frankenstein; hump and all. He even goes to the trouble of identifying himself as Igor (pronounced Eye-Gore). Although I am a huge fan of that movie in general, and Mr. Feldman in particular, I found his appearance to be more than a little distracting and out of place. Additionally, the inability to zoom into the image means that those with aging eyes may go cross-eyed playing this game.
The sound effects of MCP2 consist of a variety of clicking, whirring, and sparkly noises. While they were a bit on the ordinary side, I was inclined to cut the developers some slack. After all, how innovative can you get with the sound in a hidden objects game? The music, however, was another thing entirely. It was beautiful, haunting, and very high quality. It doesn't play constantly (thankfully), but whenever it kicked in, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mystery of the Crystal Portal Part 2 HD is a beautiful hidden objects game with a nice little adventure game wrapped around it. While the premise may not be new, the graphics are beautiful, and the implementation is top-notch. If you're not into these types of games, however, keep moving; there is nothing to see here.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Beautiful, high resolution screens filled with a mind-blistering variety of objects to find. No zoom feature means you should make sure your reading glasses are nearby. Sound: - 3.5 - Sound effects are a fairly standard affair, but the music really adds to the immersive experience. Controls: - 4 - Good touch interface, and a clever interface keeps things from getting frustrating or confusing. Gameplay: - 3.5 - If you like hidden objects games, this one will be a treat. If they?re not your bag, however, there isn?t anything here for you.
Playing Hints and Tips:
There is no penalty for using the hint system so don't let yourself get frustrated. The wheels from multiple collection points can all be open at the same time, or closed individually by locking/unlocking them.