Though I’m stating the obvious here, it seems to me that competition between the Major Producers of Hidden Object and Adventure games has increased the Player Participation and therefore the enjoyment levels considerably. This also has rolled over into the external search areas for those Items scattered about at random, many of which now appear as Mini-HOPs or Mini-Puzzles. Even the term HOPs (Hidden Object Puzzles) has been created to supersede the term HOGs, (Hidden Object Games) as that is what they are now, incorporating Puzzles within the Item search.
Initially there were LISTS of random Items – in some cases these were relevant to the game genre, and/or setting, and/or era, and/or story (if there were one), but usually they were a whole jumble of miscellaneous objects. Quite a few of the games focussed on how quickly you could find all of them, and generously allowed the Player to have Unlimited play to clear ALL HOs from each scene after the game was completed. This of course was pre-Collector’s Edition times, when you didn’t have to pay extra for the privilege.
PUZZLES were mainly MATCH 3, JIGSAWS, SPOT THE DIFFERENCE, and FIND THE DIFFERENCE (CONCENTRATION) games.
Players began to feel that LISTS were getting a bit too random, and rather humdrum, same-ol’ same-ol’, dare I say boring. They wanted some variety in their PUZZLES as well. So the Game Designers began to make them INTERACTIVE LISTS where you needed to move something to reveal the hidden Item. And SHAPES, OUTLINES, SILHOUETTES, FRAGMENTS to ASSEMBLE, and RIDDLES followed gradually. PUZZLES began to increase in style and number – STACKING, SLIDE to MATCH, FLIPPING, BUTTON PRESSING in ORDER, BUTTON SLIDING, SHOOTING, ARCHERY, LOGIC, RANDOM HITS, and more – so that there were as many of them as there were HOs per game. This of course was rather irritating if you really wanted to play HO and not PUZZLE games – there were plenty of them that catered for those Players.
Then came the BUBBLES – they were great! You hovered over or clicked on an Item that you needed, causing a BUBBLE to open, with little MINI-BUBBLES around it – some empty, and others with SHAPES of Items inside, that had to be found to release the original Item to you. These were really fun as you could end up with four or five of these in one scene – you could choose to have them all, or some, or only one of them open at a time.
The MINI-GAMES were next to arrive – these were a blend of HOs and PUZZLES, which you would think was a bit over the top but which is actually really stimulating and fun. It is important that there are clear instructions from the INFO button, and that the HOs are fairly done – not transparent, or blurry, or mostly hidden with only a tiny bit sticking out – but that is a whole other issue which I have covered many times. At first these MINI-GAMES were within the HOs as ZOOM sites – rather fun, and different.
Now, there are these HOPs – HIDDEN OBJECT PUZZLES to solve, where each Item found is used within the site to find the next Item and so on until you are left with a final Item. There is the STORY HOP where as the tale is told you have find shapes within the story page/s to continue to the next page/s; or you find and replace Items scattered throughout the Story page/s before continuing to the next one. This actually involves you in the STORY, you are part of the Narrative – the STORY drives the game. There are glorious FRAGMENTS of jewelled items to gather up and assemble, or FRAGMENTS of mundane Items that become tools to use. These are all so cleverly hidden yet in most cases totally visible and accessable. Now, in most cases the irrelevance of the Items in the HOPs has gone – the Items may be random but they almost always now fit their setting, story, era, and genre (SciFi, Fantasy. Crime etc).
All these intertwined HOs and PUZZLES – these HOPs – are fantastic, innovative, fun, entertaining, tricky, frustrating, hair-pulling, surprising, unusual, and in some cases you can barely believe they can devise such cool MINI-GAMES – such HOPs!
I am so happy that the competition is great between these Game Producers and the Publishers. It is to our benefit. Sometimes I Skip their offerings – sometimes the Puzzle element won’t work, or hinders the progress of the Game, but on the whole I like the new HOPs. As they strive to go one better than each other, the end result is Happy Player, Happy Buyer!
Jud House 16/11/2014
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