Review: Spot It! Mean Machines (Nintendo DS/Nintendo 3DS)

Spot It! Mean Machines (Nintendo 3DS)
Publisher: Big John Games
Developer: Big John Games
Genre: Hidden Object
Release Date: 11/1/2012

“Welcome to Spot It! Mean Machines, where players race the clock to find hidden objects in cleverly designed levels.” Aside from the “cleverly” part, this is a pretty accurate assessment of what the point of this game is. It’s basically childhood favorite I Spy on a 3DS. The game gives you the names of items to find on the top screen, and your job is to use the stylus, D-pad or Circle Pad to scan the area and use the stylus to select the item you’re looking for, until you find 20 objects. You have only a certain amount of time to find each object before it “locks” into place and can only be taken off the stack by a listed object that has been labeled as a bomb. Depending on how well you are doing in the game and what difficulty you’re on, the time varies slightly, and the amount of locked items you can have before getting a game over will be reduced. This makes the game challenging enough as far as pressure goes, and there are ten levels to unlock and explore, but it’s not something I will want to sit down and play for hours, especially given that the music gets annoying after a while and I don’t like playing in silence. While the song itself is fine, it’s the only song the game plays, and it grates on the ears after a while. The game probably could have benefited from some way of randomizing the location of the objects, because if I didn’t ace the level the first time around, it only took one or two more tries before I got it.

I think I would have liked this game a lot more if the pictures hadn’t been such poor quality. I don’t think that graphics generally make or break a game, but considering this is a hidden object title that relies on graphics, it’s incredibly disappointing that the images aren’t sharper. It’s also difficult to play the game from a technical standpoint because you’re having to scroll over the image because let’s face it: the 3DS screen is not nearly as big as those huge I Spy books from your youth. In the end it doesn’t make that much of a difference, because your eyes would still have to scan the pages, but if your handheld isn’t cooperating with you, it’s going to be frustrating. Some of the items blend a little too well into the background or aren’t recognizable enough to be readily identifiable as the object you’re looking for, but I suppose that’s an issue with the original I Spy games as well. It’s just made worse by the fact the graphics are so low quality for the time period in which the game is being released.

This game has multiplayer support, but that basically consists of you handing over the system to someone else once you lose, and then high scores are compared. The game supports this for up to four people. I didn’t personally try it, but it doesn’t exactly sound exhilarating. It’s possible that kids who get along (those exist, right?) might find the idea entertaining, however. Just make sure they’re actually sharing.

At the end of the day, this isn’t a groundbreaking game, but it doesn’t try to be. It will work fine for small kids and people who really, really like hidden object games, but I’m not sure it’ll keep the interest of even casual gamers. I like Big John Games as a company (at least what I’ve seen from them so far), but this isn’t their strongest game. Still, it’s only $2, so if you really need something to occupy your time, this isn’t the worst thing you could buy.

Short Attention Span Summary
For $1.99, this isn’t a bad game, but I don’t know that I would get this title for anyone over the age of, like, 8. (Which makes sense, as it seems to have been designed for that age group.) There are ten available levels, which is not bad given the price, and it provides enough of a challenge to be entertaining in short bursts. There’s a local multiplayer (local meaning hand the handheld over to someone else) option which might be fun for more well-behaved kids.

If you’re looking for a more entertaining game that’s also suitable for young children from Big John Games, I highly recommend Kart Krashers. (Heck, I enjoyed it, and I’m in my early 20s!)



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