Review: Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville (WiiWare)

A good find

Hidden object puzzles are big money these days, drawing in unsuspecting players with tales of relaxing but addictive gameplay. WiiWare has already seen the disappointing "Aha! I Found It!" Hidden Object Game but now Konami is here with a new challenger, Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville, and it's got a few tricks up its sleeve.

Set in a fictional US town populated by caricatures and stereotypes, the game centres around a new member of the neighbourhood entering the "Superstar Homes Magazine Contest", essentially an excuse to hunt around other people's houses to find furniture. It's not the world's greatest plot but it adds some purpose to proceedings and the colourful characters, although long worn-out stereotypes – an Austrian scientist named E. Stein, a 60s hippie called T. Hugger – at least bring a bit of humour to the game.

"Aha! I Found It!" fell down on its blurry and indistinct graphics that made finding given objects a chore, but Sunnyville suffers no such problem: everything is generally clear, although there are some issues where item names are a little blurry, making it tough to know what you're after. It's certainly far less prevalent than in "Aha! I Found It!", however, and the difficulty in finding objects is through clever placement rather than outright trying to trick the player: rarely will an item be camouflaged, and the game even requires some lateral thinking from time to time, asking the player to find two spades which are two different meanings of the word.

If you fancy a soothing stab at the game, the Relaxed Mode is for you: with no time limits and no penalties you're free to take the entire story at your own pace, with the ability to save and resume after each level. If you're a more seasoned object-finder, you'll probably want to play in Timed Mode, which is exactly as you'd expect, with a constantly ticking time limit and penalties for attempting to pick up anything not on your list. There are three save files available so you can even have one of each mode on the go, and completing any difficulty also unlocks a second play mode named Sunnyville Tours, beefing up the package.

Finding objects isn't the be-all and end-all in Sunnyville, however: you must take those amazing finds and turn them into serviceable furniture through a series of short but fun minigames, for want of a better word. Spraypainting, sanding, cutting, sewing: it's all here, and although most of the interactions boil down to spraying something completely or tracing a straight line with your Wii Remote, it still adds a little welcome variety.

Graphically speaking there's not too much to write home about, with decent character portraits and generally clear settings: there are a few animated touches in each level, but on the whole you'll be looking at static images trying desperately to find that last juggling ball. The music is best forgotten, but thankfully you can turn it off completely should it be too much to bear.

Conclusion

Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville is a good buy for anyone into hidden object games as well as those looking to dip their toe into the water for the first time. It won't blow you away but it's an enjoyable way to pass the time, and the addition of short minigames help to spice up proceedings. For only 500 Points this is better value than some other games on the service, so if you feel like a few hours spotting hidden items then this is your best bet on WiiWare so far.