Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir isn’t a mystery – it’s a treasure hunt for the Nintendo DS.

Want to be a master detective? Then play Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir. There’s no exam to pass, no joining the dots or any advanced brain function required. Anyone can be a master detective, as long as you have two functioning eyes. This isn’t a detective game, it’s “I Spy” for the DS.

Now “I Spy”, no matter what age you are, gets boring fast. Even the cartoon adaption of Where’s Waldo knew kids wouldn’t be entertained by looking at pictures of Waldo for half an hour. They developed a story to go with the pictures, and they put a time limit on the Waldo hunting to stop kids going blind from putting their face into the TV. This isn’t a game made for children. It’s not a game made for anyone, because ten minutes rummaging around someone’s room for their random baseball bat or bow tie would bore the pants off anyone.

Sadly, Mystery Case Files doesn’t seem to care. It’s strange given that Big Fish Games – the people who Popcap got to create the casual gaming version of cocaine, Peggle – could make a game so devoid of entertainment. I won’t lie; the game is fun at the beginning. It’s just that once you’ve seen the beginning, you’ve seen everything.

The whole game is based around hidden objects: find enough of them, and then you’ll get handed a clue. Move onto the next room, find more objects, get another clue. Occasionally there’ll be mini-games to break up the flow: mosaics, jigsaw puzzles and even a Tetris-style game for the DNA analysis. But for every interesting mini-game there’s one just as bad, like when you first pick up the super eraser to clean ink blotches off a page, or blowing into the microphone to clean a badge.

Everything about this game is repetitive and completely unnecessary. You’re a detective brought in to find millionaire Phil T. Rich, although they may as well have sacked you and hired your computer instead because the computer is the one doing all the sleuthing. Your job is to find random objects, most of which are actually outlines embedded into the background and none of which have anything to do with the plot. After a while you’ll have to interact with the junk by holding down LT or RT and moving the stylus to another piece of junk.

If that doesn’t take your fancy, you can throw away the single player (or the game) and challenge a friend to a scavenger hunt, which is about as much fun as the M5 in peak hour. You’d be better off hiding your wallet, keys and phone in your room then getting a mate to trash the place. At least that way you’d get a sense of relief when you found everything.

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The only saving grace is that Mystery Case Files is fairly short: you’ll finish the game in a few hours, and the controls work really well on the DS. Some of the mini-games are really good too, but instead of being the focal point of the game they just break up the flow. Why couldn’t this have been a creative adaption of The Incredible Machine for the DS? Hell, even a recreation of the classic Carmen Sandiego series based around finding the kidnapped millionaire would be great.

This is just an exercise for your eyes. Casual games don’t have to be shallow – Big Fish Games should know that – but this is nothing more than a wasted opportunity. There are better games out there.

Developer: Big Fish Games

Publisher: Nintendo

Classification: G

Formats: Nintendo DS

Cost: $49.95

Link: http://www.mysterycasefiles.com/games/millionheir

Written by Alex Walker

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