Aspirin. I know I have aspirin around here somewhere. Man, what a headache.
Ok, I’ve just been playing Astraware’s Hidden Expedition: Titanic, and I have a massive headache. Actually, I have a couple of them.
[Hidden Expeditions:Titanic from Astraware- Opening Screen and a sample screenshot]
(In the screenshot, can you find the diver’s suit, key, stamp, butterfly, surgical clamp, life jacket, pipe wrench, watermelon, an old fashioned can opener, and the oxygen tank (which gains you more air)? What else do you see? What is that thing hiding in the air duct?)
Hidden Expedition: Titanic is a game wherein you are going to dive and explore the wreckage of the Titanic. The backstory is that you are looking for a fabulous treasure and artifacts. Because of the danger, you can keep any gems and other valuables you find, and you will also find some additional oxygen tanks, etc. while down there. Oh- the oxygen. Did I mention that you have limited oxygen for each dive, and doing things like tapping on the wrong things and asking for hints uses your limited air quicker?
This game reflects Astraware’s attention to detail, wonderful graphics, good game play, good demo policies, etc. For $19.95, you get 17 rooms to explore, puzzles and challenges to solve, and a game that can reconfigure itself so even re-entering the same room can be a fresh challenge.
[Here we see the diver’s suit preparing to float away after being found, and some of the rooms to explore available at this stage.]
The gameplay is intuitive- tapping, basic joystick/D-Pad movement, simple interface. Rock solid gameplay- one of Astraware’s hallmarks. OK, so it is sometimes a little slow to load, and once froze my PDA. This is neither a surprise (considering all of the graphics involved), nor really one of the headaches.
Headache 1 is the screen and graphics. This is, at heart, a hidden picture game. Some items are “hidden” in plain site. Some are camouflaged by surrounding items. Some are partially hidden by other items, shadows, doors, etc. Some look a lot like other things- a metal diamond and a protractor look like natural parts of a metal fence. Some are hidden by sheer virtue of all the stuff on screen- and tapping wrong items costs you oxygen! Dang!
[Introducing an early puzzle- you have to find each of these items in the next room]
[Some of the headaches- a screen that comes up at the beginning of each dive, and the all-too-frequent ‘oh, oh!’ screen]
To pack all of the detail needed to make this work and to keep it a high enough level to excite most Palm users, the screen is pushing the resolution of my Palm T/X. I had to take off my glasses and hold the screen close enough to get nose prints on it. I was also angling the screen all over the place to try to resolve some of the images, especially darker things. I hate to think what someone with a smaller-screened Palm would have to do! I truly got a headache playing the game for more than a few minutes. (Oh, and make sure your touchscreen is properly aligned!)
Headache 2 is trying to explain what I feel about the game. It’s addictive. Every time I got a screen up, I had to play it off even as my eyes were crossing trying to find a fishing lure or a tennis racket. I was annoyed by the oddness of some of the items (green plants and lizards in an old sunken ship? Shades of SpongeBob!) It drives me crazy. How in the HECK was that fishing lure hiding THERE the entire time? I really hate having to hit “help”, but I needed it a couple times. I handed it to my teens to try to find stuff, and I did not get my Palm back for several minutes as they worked away.
Not quite the addictive force of Astraware’s Bejeweled or Text Twist, and not quite the challenge of Astraware Sudoku’s higher levels, it is nonetheless a solid game and the hint of more in the series is intriguing. Oh well, pass me the aspirin and let me get back to the ship!