Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1000: Find 'Em All!

Gotta find 'em all, apparently

Just recently I had been wondering when someone would come along and release an iPhone game like Pokémon; the kind of game where one can spend countless hours searching for elusive collectibles while exploring a compelling game world. 1000: Find 'Em All! is the closest yet to creating such an experience but, alas, it is not close enough. It does a number of things right, but quite a few wrong, too.

One is presented with an enormous land to explore, rendered in appealingly colorful 16-bit graphics, a la The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. In point of fact, the world around you starts off in monochrome and only by moving through it does it acquire color. This is a fun mechanic, reminiscent of de Blob, and leads to several of the many badges that can be earned through the course of normal gameplay. But the eponymous 1,000 items themselves are found scattered randomly throughout the land in gift-wrapped boxes, and take little skill to find. Indeed, some are laying out in the open, while others are "hidden" in sparkling objects. Tapping on these objects may result in a gift box, and once a day you can go back and check them again.

The items you find have nothing to do with where you search; you are just as likely to find a bridge as a half-eaten donut. But when you find an object, you are treated to a short description that is either humorous or educational, and both types are appreciated. The biggest shortcoming of the game, though, is that the world you inhabit is a lonely place. You can open the doors to buildings but you can't actually enter them. NPC's are rare and the occasional animals you run across don't much care that you are traversing their domains. This lack of opposition results in a lack of challenge and, ultimately, a lack of lasting entertainment. It should be noted that there is a second way to collect items through the GPS function of the iPhone and that this more interesting mechanic isn't available to iPod Touch owners.

Though the desire to find 'em all can be compelling, depending on the severity of your OCD (j/k), the overall experience fails to satisfy.

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