Hidden Expedition Titanic Review
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
The fun is also hidden
Thanks to the blockbuster movie of the '90s, the sinking of the Titanic seems to be less a tragic historical event and more a part of story-telling culture. Whether that bothers you is up to you, but Hidden Expedition Titanic merely pretends to include a story around the ill-fated ship, throwing some nonsense around a fairly typical hidden-object game. DSiWare and its limitations are arguably stripping it of relevance for modern downloads; at the very least that's the case here.
This title suffers from those DSiWare restrictions yet shows little creativity (unlike some peers on the system) to work around problems. With just 16mb of space to work with and a premise based on object hunting in various rooms aboard the sunken ship, we have the usual issue of squinting at low-resolution images; you tap away — it does detect your selections accurately, at least — and search on the touch screen. When you account for the fact that these screens are slightly murky as a stylistic choice, it's a double whammy of migraine inducing frustration.
Each stage is a 'dive', with a loose story about exploring the remains of the Titanic to retrieve a crown; as suggested above, that's of little relevance. With a time limit you work your way through one or more rooms in each dive — it progresses to three rooms — with the task of finding ten objects and gems in each. Once the rooms and their objects are cleared there's a final bonus round to complete the dive. This additional round alternates between another object-finding exercise — in which you see a preview and then have silhouettes as a reference rather than names — and a tile-based image task. The latter has a generous time limit where, in practice, you can simply try each spot with each image portion in order until it clicks into place; engaging the brain makes these a trifling affair, as there are generous clues in the image that you need to fill. The former additional object finding task shares the same overall time-limit as the main dive, which is frustrating as the seconds get tight in later stages.
If that alternating hidden-object extra is a questionable design choice, it has good company in dubious decisions. As already mentioned the many rooms often have a murky aesthetic, which is appropriate, but strips away elements of fairness and fun in tracking down items. Some items are so out-of-scale — with examples that are bigger or small than they should be — or fuzzy in resolution that you only learn what they are by dumb luck. There are also some objects with unfamiliar names or designs that are discovered by accident. We would learn by rote, assimilating ourselves to accept poor quality images and occasional opaque designs to progress.
There's a hint button that's invaluable, too, though its use penalises a decent chunk of time. If an environment or objects were too tricky we'd often take the hit, figure out which blur was the "old key", fail the dive but jump back in; tapping a wrong item also deducts time, harsh when some are too blurry to comprehend. Each dive keeps objects in the same place for that particular level, with each room seemingly having 20-30 items — you have to find 10 — that are randomly assigned. In later levels we'd rely on multiple playthroughs with trial-and-error; this isn't exactly an ideal approach for a hidden object game.
There's a good few hours of object hunting to be had, overall, but it lacks any real sense of enjoyment. In those three hours you'll also become over-familiar with some mediocre music samples, of which there are a few that loop depending on the screen; they're not terrible, nor are they good.
Hidden Expedition Titanic arrives at a meaty price-point on a download platform well past its prime, and doesn't even qualify as a solid DSiWare entry. It's not completely broken in its controls or general execution, but suffers from muddy visuals and scruffy images. Sloppy artistic choices and a low resolution strip away any aspect of fun in hunting objects and make it a chore; if you're keen to find some hidden objects there are better options out there. This one should be left to rest on the sea bed.