Jud’s Game Rating:

Graphics: ****  Player participation (PP) *****  Satisfaction Factor (SF) *****

Frustration Factor (FF)  Nil

UPDATE:  17/07/2011

WOW!!  There is quite an expansion of the THE WITCH’S CURSE Game Format in the new RETURN OF THE CURSE Collector’s Edition Game.  I was so impressed.

Obviously I have now completed the Game plus the Bonus Chapter – this is unlocked as you play the Game – and can report that the free hour certainly only gave a taste of what was to come.  As well as having the Fairy to assist you with her abilities, and her collecting of items for you, you soon gain the help of a baby dragon which you hatch using your own magic.  As it grows it gains a number of abilities that are a little different from those of the Fairy – though as I recall she had some of them in THE WITCH’S CURSE.  After time alone with the Dragon, the Fairy returns to assist you as well so you have access to more abilities.

There are multiple levels in this Game, and much going back and forth before you are able to clear an area and move on.  If you get stuck now, after asking the Fairy, then Dragon, then both of them for a hint, you can go to the Strategy Guide which sits top right of the screen for easy access.  It is also available through the Extras in the Main Menu.  It gives step by step tasks to do, with an opening arrow to show you a screenshot with the required items circled in various colours depending on their function.  This is great, as it lowers the FF considerably, and allows you to move forward into another flurry of activity!

In Extras there are also Wallpapers and Soundtracks to unlock as you go, plus Concept Art; and Teasers.

Both Games – THE WITCH’S CURSE and RETURN OF THE CURSE finish with a seek and find competition with the Witch.  I can never find them quick enough, but somehow I beat her anyway!  A hugely satisfying pair of Games! Highest SF!

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These PRINCESS ISABELLA Games are great.  They are geared for girls because they have a fairy guide, but the game-play is for anyone of any age.  So you can easily ignore the cutesy fairy voice – turn the volume down, mute it, or just ignore it – and focus on the great combination of adventure/puzzle/hidden object/problem-solving game-play.  Lots of PP and heaps of SF!

There is a Special Edition for THE WITCH’S CURSE and a Collector’s Edition for RETURN OF THE CURSE – both really well worth while purchasing.  So if you see both versions available then grab the Special/Collector’s Edition rather than the standard game.  There is nothing wrong with the standard version, but there are Bonus Games and Game-Play in the Special Editions that are always great to have.

I own THE WITCH’S CURSE SPECIAL EDITION, but have only played the free hour of RETURN OF THE CURSE – and was disappointed when I ran out of time, as I didn’t want to stop playing.  This is always a good sign about how good a Game is, and whether it is worth buying.  I immediately  moved it to the ‘Ready To Buy’ corner of my Desktop!

The Graphics are great, interesting, well detailed – a mixture of fantasy and realism which works well.  The items are well hidden though of good size so there is no unfairness to cause FF.  They graphics are colourful with fairly clear images, and multiple locations that you can pass through, zoom into thus opening more locations with important mini tasks, or return to to move on in a different direction.  It is very cleverly done, and there is not a feeling of boredom, but rather a sense of purpose all the time.  The Player is continually involved, with a diverse range of activities, and only a touch of ‘bother I have to go back there again’!  This is fixed by using the map to jump from place to place, so you don’t have to go the long way there through all the rooms in between.

They are both spooky games with dark magic, ghouls and creepy crawlies to get rid of, in order to lift the Curse on the Castle and countryside.  There are gluggy black pools from which black ghosts rise, rotating skulls that you must align, bear claws to put into the bear paws, volcanic rock to crack, planets to locate and insert, and music to play to name just a few things.  In both Games there are areas of Hidden Objects to seek and find, some of which you retain in your Inventory for later use. Tip: If you get stuck and seem unable to move on, then check that you haven’t missed a step – there is an order in which you must complete things before the next will work.

In the first Game you explore the Castle room by room, then down through the stables into the garden, lifting the Curse and restoring the locations, while you search for shards of mirror-glass.  When replaced into their huge mirror-frames in the Great Hall, the servants who are trapped behind them are released.  As you free them, they are able to provide you with items that they were holding when they were cursed.  Also they give you information that you need for some of the unique puzzles which are used to open doors so you can access the next part of the castle.

The second Game begins in the castle, proceeds out of through dungeon/caves, into the surrounding countryside.  While you explore you must find and use gems to release your servants from frozen ice pillars,plus clear the curse away from the fairy villages nearby.  So far it seems that there is quite a lot of going back and forth over locations until you are told that they are now clear.  The fairy helps you with her abilities, which you first must locate in locked drawers etc.  When the Game begins she tells you ‘How to play’, acting as a Tutorial.  You can fast-forward through it by clicking, but it is helpful if you are a first time player.

I am sure that despite the ‘fairy’ element, these Games will provide plenty of enjoyment and much SF!

(C)  Copyright  Jud House  12/07/2011

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