For many years the video game industry denied the existence of girls and instead concentrated on selling games to the male of the species. More recently with the success of DS and Wii, girls have become recognised as a legitimate part of the gaming audience. However for the most part they are being targeted with Fashion Titles or Baby Simulators. I can’t help but think it’s a little insulting for girls who are into sport or action games that they are being constantly presented with games coated in a sickly gloss of pink fluff. Thankfully Witch’s Curse for DS doesn’t quite fit into that category, yes it’s aimed at girls but apart from the obligatory fairy – it actually feels like a unisex game.
You’re probably familiar with the Hidden Object genre but I’ll give a quick explanation for those that are new around these parts. You’ve all done Word Searches right? Well imagine a word search but with images instead of text and hopefully you’ll have an idea of what I mean. The basic idea behind a hidden object game is work through a list of objects which have been sneakily hidden in-amongst many others in the scene. Perhaps the screenshot will give you a handy visual example:
Witch’s Curse for DS is fundamentally a hidden object game but there are some interesting puzzles thrown in for good measure, but before all that we should find out what the story is about.
Princess Isabella is soon to marry the Prince Adam but after returning home from a trip to get her Wedding Dress fitted she finds that an evil curse has been placed on her castle by a mysterious witch. The witch’s curse has placed evil and darkness in each and every room of the castle. If this wasn’t bad enough, the Witch ended up capturing everyone who was inside the castle and trapped them behind mirrors. Typically the mirrors have become shattered and pieces are scattered all around the castle. You as Princess Isabella must complete the puzzles, find the hidden objects and restore all the broken mirrors together – only when a whole mirror is repaired will you be able to rescue the person from within.
So the game generally consists of you moving from room to room clearing the aforementioned evil, you start off in the Castle Courtyard and slowly make your way deeper and deeper inside. When you first enter a room you’ll notice it’s very dark, gloomy and scary looking. Things in the room may be in total disrepair, surrounded by ghosts or even covered in cobwebs. As you tap around the touch screen in every room you’ll find a hidden object task to complete, portions of the broken mirrors and yes, a couple of puzzles too.
The hidden object minigame will usually provide you with a couple of key items that can either be used to complete a puzzle in the same (or totally different) castle room. A great example is when you find a couple of seemingly inconsequential Piano Strings. It turns out that these are later required to fix a broken piano, when the piano is working you will be able to play a song upon it which will banish anything evil lurking in the room. It’s little puzzles like this that raises Witch’s Curse above any other game I’ve played before in it’s genre – classy baby!
All this talk about ghosts might have made you a bit scared, don’t worry – your fairy companion who travels with you will often give helpful advice and even has a couple of special abilities to help out on occasion. It’s very handy for example that she can turn into a rock and break pots open, that is because some of those very important Mirror Pieces are hidden in pots and you won’t be able to get very far without releasing the trapped staff
Witch’s Curse contains over forty puzzle and hidden object games spread across 135 castle scenes and despite the simplistic nature, will actually take you a good while to finish. Some of the puzzles are trickier than you’d expect and it’s also a game that you’ll want to play in short but frequent bursts, I for example played it in bed before I went to sleep.
With hand drawn objects and locations I can’t describe the game as anything but pretty – every scene is like a work of art and sometimes it’s just fun to look at the whole picture and remind myself how crap at drawing I am. Your ears on the other hand will not be treated to the same gorgeousness as your eyes. The music is both bland and poorly implemented, every thirty seconds or so it loops and quite noticeably too. Argh!
Even though this is a budget price game with lower production values it’s still a decent way to spend eight to ten hours. Okay so it’s possibly suited to girls a little more than boys but I, as a hairy 28 year old male wouldn’t feel too insecure about playing this one on the train. Witchs Curse gets 7 out of 10.
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