Review Date: June 2, 2010
Developer: MagicIndie Softworks
Publisher: MagicIndie Softworks
Genre: Hidden Object
There's no shortage of pirate-themed games in the casual space, just as there's no shortage of hidden object games. So combining the two seems like the perfect recipe for a dull, generic game. But Robinson Crusoe and the Cursed Pirates is far from dull, instead offering a refreshing, creative, and humorous experience that puts plenty of twists on the traditional HOG formula.
Set Sail For Adventure
When the game starts, Robinson Crusoe has hit a bit of bad luck. After managing to escape the Inhabited Island, our swashbuckling hero sets sail for home, only to end up shipwrecked on an uncharted island plagued with voodoo and ghost pirates. His only chance of getting home safely is to collect all of the cursed items, known as Black Spots, which are scattered across the island and use them to brew a potion to defeat the pirate ghost captain.
Of course, the various ghosts located on the island won't give up their Black Spots easily. Instead, you'll have to solve plenty of puzzles and find a heap of objects before you can even think of setting sail back to England. Most of the scenes in Robinson Crusoe are set-up the same way. You'll start out by finding a certain number of one type of object, say 12 spiders or 10 pieces of candy, before moving on the more traditional portion of the game, where you're given a list of items to find.
What's great about Robinson Crusoe though is that while the set-up for most scenes is the same, you're constantly doing new things. You might have to find bones and clothing in order to put together a skeleton pirate, or you may have to put a series of pictures in the right order so that you create an animated cheetah. Pretty much each scene offers a new and imaginative activity to do, from mini-games and puzzles to plain old object finding.
Good Looks And A Sense Of Humor
The game is also relatively long, as the 11 chapters will take several hours to finish. It also features a slightly higher than normal difficulty level, as many of the objects are very well hidden. To alleviate this, the game gives you two options when you begin the game: you can play either in relaxed more (which has no timer and more hints) or survivor mode (which features fewer hints and a timer for each stage). There's also a recharging hint system in case you get stuck, and all of the puzzles can be skipped if you choose.
As you collect the Black Spots, you'll be able to test them out on the captain's parrot, which has been transformed into a monkey. After finding each item, you can then test how well the potion is working, resulting in some of the funnier moments in the game. You'll see the poor little monkey turn into everything from a coconut to fish bones. This is just one example of the game's great sense of humor, as the story is very self-aware and pokes plenty of fun at pirates as we know them.
To round out the overall package, Robinson Crusoe also sports some wonderful production values. The hand painted cut-scenes, characters, and backgrounds look incredible, and even feature some subtle animation that make the world feel all the more real. The sound design upstages the visuals though, with a soundtrack that deftly switches back and forth from epic, Pirates of the Caribbean inspired to tunes, to whimsical and even menacing songs. Even when the music briefly stops the game still sounds great, with ambient sound effects like howling wolves or creaking cabins.
The Bottom Line
When combined, all of these aspects go towards creating one of the best HOGs in recent memory. Robinson Crusoe nails the hidden object portions of the game, but also adds plenty of variety with frequent and imaginative puzzles and mini-games, not to mention some outstanding production values and a lengthy adventure. It's rare that a HOG constantly tasks you with doing new things, but Robinson Crusoe does just that, making it a title HOG fans shouldn't miss out on.