"Aha! I Found It!" Hidden Object Game Review
Posted by Desiree Turner
Flawed by fuzziness
It took Ateam Inc. almost a year to bring their last WiiWare offering to the west after its initial Japanese release, but their next reached our shores within a matter of months. "Aha! I Found It!" Hidden Object Game brings with it the promise of good old-fashioned 'find the hidden object' family fun for up to four players. You'll spend your time here helping aliens to bring happiness to humans all over Earth by finding lost items hidden in bright, colourful settings. Is this game itself a hidden treasure, however, or will you be left wanting?
This is point-and-click fare at its simplest. The game first introduces you to Peji, Rocko, Taza and Fafa, a set of four alien brothers and sisters on a mission to Earth to make its citizens happy. You'll be helping this pack of people-pleasing visitors to complete their lofty goal each time you play, though at first there are only three missions available: Ninja Fort, Dressing Room, and Pirate's Cove. Each one features a human (a ninja, a ballerina, a pirate, etc.) who has lost many of their most important items, and in order to make them (and every other subsequent human) happy, you'll have to locate everything they ask for.
There are twelve items listed at the bottom of the screen for you to find, and your efforts are timed, though there is no on-screen timer for you to consult, oddly enough. Simply point and click on each item as you find it on the screen to cross it off of your list automatically. After a minute has passed, the game begins to help you to find items on your list - you'll hear a light bell chime, and then a dotted circle will briefly flash into view, pointing out the general area of a hidden item. Every thirty seconds after that first minute, the game will continue to point out items in this manner. It all seems easy enough, but be careful - if you click the wrong item by accident, you'll add a five second penalty to your total time spent on that stage. When you reach three minutes, a siren noise sounds and the music changes to a track that, though overlaid with a whirling, ominous beat, manages to convey the same feelings of peace and calm necessary to concentrate on the search at hand.
Find each of the dozen items on your list under a total time of three minutes to make your chosen human "Very Happy"; finding them all between three and four minutes will leave your human just Happy, and a total time of four minutes or more will leave you with a Sad human. With every human you make either Happy or Very Happy, you'll unlock another stage to play, for a total of ten stages in all. You may re-enter any unlocked stage at any time to be presented with a brand new list of items to find, and the items themselves will have been shifted about on the screen, making each playthrough a little bit different. The items will generally rotate between a few different areas on the screen, so with enough practice on a given stage you'll be able to pick them out more quickly.
As for the difficulty of the stages themselves, the items are not necessarily strewn about the screen at random. The colourful settings afford a myriad of hiding places for each of the near-300 individual items in the game, and most will be rather well-hidden, which, while likely great on a HDTV, is a big problem for players with standard televisions. Although in the screenshots on an LCD monitor each item seems crisp and distinct once you've picked it out, on a standard television the edges of the items are fuzzy enough to blend in with like-coloured backgrounds. The size of the items is also an issue in terms of being able to pick them out, as most are very small and, again, on a standard television will be fuzzy and indistinct. Even when played on a standard television with a large screen, you will spend a lot of time clicking random blotches and bits of different colored stuff on the screen just to see if they're actually the items you're looking for. Furthermore, it doesn't help that some of the items will not be easily recognisable by players unfamiliar with Japanese culture (the kakejiku, kendama, and kusari-gama, for instance), not to mention specific animals, fish, flowers, and other items (gladiolus, damselfish, royal gramma?). Though you can zoom in on the names of the items you're searching for by hovering your pointer over each one on the list at the bottom of the screen, there is no way to see what each item actually looks like on its own until you've found it, which is a terrible shame as that feature alone would cut down at least half of the trial and error required to figure out which items are which (and subsequently where) in this game.
Multiplayer features the same gameplay as single player, just with more than one person. You may have up to four people play the same stage, each competing to find the most objects. Should you click the wrong item in multiplayer, not only will you rack up penalty seconds just like in single player mode, your cursor will also disappear from the screen for about five seconds, giving your opponents the opportunity to continue racking up lost items unhindered. Once everything has been found, the game displays your personal ranking against each other and then combines everyone's penalties and collective time for a total score. There are no single winners, here - if one person pulls in the penalty seconds, it'll drop your combined score and you'll both wind up with a Sad human on your hands.
The sounds fit the theme, providing providing an upbeat, peppy backdrop for the quirky, fun UFO and its menus outside the stage screens. The assorted blips, bleeps, and bloops seem right at home on the silly spaceship, and during a stage you're provided with a couple of tracks that paint a calm, peaceful background while you're searching for lost items. The graphics are smooth and absolutely adorable, though stylised to the point where some common items will look strange at first. The theme is very kid-friendly, the fonts are easy to read; the only problem is the aforementioned crippling fuzziness during the stages that makes playing on a standard television nearly impossible for the casual player - a serious issue, considering this genre is casual gaming at its finest.
It's an absolute shame that the developers apparently did not test this game on standard televisions, as most of their Wii-playing audience probably has their consoles hooked up to one. The game itself is easy and fun to play, the characters are charming and the graphics are adorable, and multiplayer would be great for bringing in the kids for some good old-fashioned family fun, but the headaches and eye strain are not worth it. Unless you've got an HDTV and perfect vision, don't bother looking for this one unless you've got the patience necessary for plenty of trial and error.