Big Fish has been turning out hidden picture games for PCs and Macs for years. As far as I’m concerned, a little of that goes a long, long way. Obviously, others differ, including my daughter, who loves the blasted things.
There are several different hidden picture series out there, each with a different kind of theme. The Hidden Expedition line, for instanct, has an adventure theme, and the titles to date are Titanic, Everest, Amazon, and Devil’s Triangle.
The theme really just effects the surrounding material and the visual style. This amounts to a bit of text to send you on your way (as if pixel-hunting is some kind of grand adventure), and some general “quest” to find something.
I picked Hidden Expedition: Titanic at random because the subject seems interesting, and in the process I unwittingly unlocked the entire secret of Big Fish’s marketing plan: take a basic game format, run through the theme-o-matic to apply some popular topical veneering, and set it loose on the internet.
Despite the limited nature of the format, the results are quite pleasing. The art for the Big Fish hidden picture games is uniformly good. Plenty of objects are hidden in the frame, along with gems and other bonus doo-bobs. There are 20 locations to search, with random object lists to keep the game fresh for replays.
I played this one on both PC and iPod Touch, and it’s made a pretty good transition to app form. The image size is, obviously, much smaller, but the art has scaled well and Big Fish has reconfigured the pictures for the handheld screen.
Object selection is via simple touch input, which leads to one of the app’s more amusing problems. A finger is proportionately much larger than a mouse pointer. It would be pointless and impractical to randomly mouse click on the PC version of the game. On the app, however, the tip of your finger provides input to a much wider area, allowing you to search most of a scene in about 20 random taps. Of course, if that’s the way you want to play, it’s your $5.