Image via WikipediaOk - there are some sucky games out there - we all know it. This weekend I'm playing Mystery PI: Portrait of a Thief on the DS. I am not sure what the mystery is and I've been playing (successfully) for 3 hours. You have to find specific objects in a photo filled with objects. There are several locations to gather evidence and at each location you have to find a specific number of objects. When you find all the objects in the given part of town you get to play a mini-game (concentration, rearrange the puzzle pieces are the 2 types I"ve seen so far). And you get a screen of text that seems to be talking abou thte mystery but there's no info there to help you on the next level or that adds to the story line or even to your understanding of yourself as the private investigator.
Image via WikipediaI like puzzle games. Don't get me wrong. And repetition doesn't always bother me. I like Cooking Mama with its repetition of a set of cooking skills; I'm anxious to get the new recipes even tho I know there's no new skills to learn (ok - and is it just me but or is Mam really passive aggressive - look at the literal fire in her eyes when she tells you she'll fix your mistakes. She sounds all friendly, but her eyes show her real feelings!). But this game is bad There's no apparent logic to what objects ya have to find - they're not related to each other and since there's no bigger story clearly layed out, the objects don't seemt o be related ot the story either. There's something in the text about art so ya think maybe some art has been stolen. But you're not looking for art - you're looking for paperclips and red peppers and butterflies and birds and masks and .... . And I don't know if it's my older DS or the graphics quality in the game but the pictures are hard to see. I'm not even sure if there is a bigger purpose to the game. So it falls down in terms of story, in character development, and in variety of game play. I keep playing going - is that all there is?
I think this game will become part of an assignment next year for the game design students - fix the game. They will be developing the sequel maybe or porting it to a new platform. I am sure there is no shortage of bad games we could pick up - i will look for low meta critic scores and recommendations from the more senior students. And if you have any suggestions - please leave them in the comments section. It will just be the design - i don't think we'll be doing any of the programming tho I think we could in flash but I want them to focus on the design elements, the rules, and giving the game a purpose. So stay tuned in the fall for an update on how that assignment goes over
Image via WikipediaAs an aside - this game is from Pop Cap games which has a great portal on the web and has done very cool things to monetize their games. They're a company I want to study more in our junior class on the business - they've stayed independent (I think), they have tried a variety of things to get revenue from the games. I need to find out about their relationship with developers.