Story:  Bundle up and prepare for an exciting adventure this holiday season! After receiving a desperate letter from your old nut-cracking friend, Albert, you rush to help him. When you arrive, you learn that the Rat King’s evil wand has fallen into the hands of a vengeful baron, and now three innocent people – including Albert – have been turned into toys! Team up with the Nutcracker and your new friend, the Tin Soldier, to fight trolls and destroy the Baron’s curse in this delightful Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options:   This is great and includes a Gamma setting so you can lighten it up a little if you need to.

Music & Voice-Overs:    The Music is classical, very suitable for the story, and not annoying at all – a variety of Tchaikovsky’s ballet music, including SWAN LAKE and NUTCRACKER SUITE.  The Voice-Overs are really well chosen, and add to,rather than detract from, the playing experience.

Extras:   Wallpapers; Music; Screensaver; Bonus Game; Collectibles; Concept Art; Achievements.  The Strategy Guide is on the game Desktop.  There are no Play HOPs or Play Puzzles in the Extras/Bonus content.  You have to Mouse-Over various areas of the Bonus Content screen in order to see this content – it appears as just a lovely colourful location with no Extras List on it.

Desktop:    Charlie (Tin Soldier); Menu, Map (Left); Inventory (Centre); Albert (Nutcracker) Hints, Toy Maker (Potions, Magic), Strat Guide (Right).

Tutorial:    Good, informative, but a little intrusive at times.

Graphics:   Gloriously colourful, imaginative, authentic for the ‘Tin Soldier’ Era, though a bit blurred in the HOPs which I would have thought Elephant Games would have stopped doing by now, as it discriminates against visually impaired players.

Play Modes:    Nina’s Mode; Charlie’s Mode; Nutcracker’s Mode; Custom Mode.

Map:    Interactive; colourful; helpful especially if unsure of next move.

HOPs:   The usual Elephant Games innovative HOPs, with Lists, and Shapes, and Zoom sites within the HOPs – all Interactive.

Puzzles:   A really good variety of Puzzles – some easy, some frustrating.  But you can Skip the latter.

Collections:   Puzzle pieces (Jigsaw); Miniatures in pink gift boxes.

Game-play:   This is a little awkward  and confusing in the early stages, but this settles as you adjust to the peculiarities of this game.  There are all sorts of magical tricks that take you to unexpected places.  You can use a potion to temporarily shrink you to allow you through a tiny door, and another to make other creatures huge.  To talk with the Characters you click on them, then from a pop-up list of questions, you click on the one you wish to ask them, until they have all been asked.  You also need to put the outside stars into the Magic Star Collecting Jar.

Player Participation:   This is good, continual, and quite hands-on with repairs and usage of Items.

Satisfaction Factor:   Once the Game-play became clear this was entirely satisfying.  Very enjoyable, as it included the Nutcracker, the Tin Soldier, the Rat King’s Heir, Nina Ballerina, the Toy Maker, Evil Jack-in-a-Box, and even Box Trolls.

Frustration Factors:   Mainly the tendency to slide too easily out of HOPs into previous screen; the blurred Graphics in the HOPs; and a few of the Puzzles that were too random or refused to resolve – hate those sliding tile games to form a picture, where they can only move into the space.  So rarely solvable.

Bonus Game:    This was also more of the same great Graphics, and Game-play with a slight change in some Characters.  Very enjoyable.

I highly recommend this game as it has all the elements needed in a good Xmas Game, is entertaining, very Interactive, and great for all the family.

Jud House 12/12/2014

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About judsartwork

I write reviews of Adventure and Hidden Object games that are Crime, Fantasy, SciFi, Renovation, Travel, Quest and/or Mystery by genre. I have a Masters in Writing (2006) and have been writing novels, both crime and fantasy for many years; plus Haiku, verse, and prose both fictional and literary. I am also an artist of modern, Acrylic, textural and hard edge work, underwater, fantasy, expressionist, and Cosmos paintings. I use mixed media (Acrylic, Watercolour, Pastels) in textural Monoprints, finding surprises to expose within each work. Having both an analytical and creative mind has meant that I have strong powers of observation, and the persistence required to follow computer problems through till I solve them. Of course I am not always successful, but am willing to ask for a little help in order to then unlock the main problem myself. My Troubleshooting Blog, 'Problems and Solutions', was the result of my tenacity.
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