Yet another puzzle based adventure on the DS – professor Leyton you have a lot to answer for my friend!
Mystery Case Files.. Million Heir for the Nintendo DS is basically a puzzle orientated title where you examine rooms with the aid of your magifying glass and torch. Think of it as hide and seek or spot the difference with a twist. You make your way thought the story and locations by examing these rooms and uncovering whichever clues are relevant to that investigation – this element changes slightly with each play. Each room is broken down in to find x number of objects from the scene to unlock the next room or area. This will all seem very familair to you if you happened upon Interpol on XBLA last year.
You are the Master Detective – yes that is right, that’s the full character devlopment right there 🙂 There is a loose story of trying to find the killer of a multi-millionaire (hence the title) but to be honest it is all strung to gether with silk thin whisps. The main thrust of the story is completing the vaious elements of the puzzles within. Gathering all the relevant evidence by eamining these scenes and then waiting for you crime computer to feed you the next bone of info. The games started life on the PC as casual online games from Big Fish and this can be told almost straight away. You pick up what story is evident by talking to each character and investigating what they say – if you have played the Phoenix Wright games you have the idea. This works well in Phoenix but here it has little material to work with.
Graphically the game is reasonable attrative thanks largely to the games art style. It is all very big and bright and has large chunky characters (in 2D) and well designed investigation areas. One by one you are introduced to the various locations in the game and the oddball cast is trotted out to compliment the areas you visit – cowboys, gardeners, firemen, narcoleptic actresses, chefs and many others are trotted out to help give some basis for playing the next puzzle. Sound wise there is nothing particular to to write home about. What is in place functions well enough and the various little ditties and spot effects to help further the gameplay.
Poor story, good art style and OK sound aside it all still hangs on if the game is actually any fun – well the answer is… depends. Depends on the kind of person you are really. Do you like crosswords? Not the hard one, the easy ones. Do you like wordsearches and spot the difference puzzles? If you do then I say, YES, it is good fun to play. If your more in to chess, The Times crossword and super hard Sudoku then I say… probably not. You see the puzzles are all well and good but there is little actually “puzzling” to do. It is more just “locate A”, “locate B” and so on.
Finding these varied objects within the pictures ranges from completely easy to mildly tricky, but it never moves beyond that level. The design of the rooms is well done and some of the objects can be prove a short staller but the game is just too easy. I appreciate this is aimed as a casual game and in the vein I just played in in short burst when I had 5 minutes to spare… yes alright I played it on the bog! As a quick play title it works well, bus journeys (Yamster and Ognawk will be pleased) blend away and you can save when you like. You never really get to investigate or feel like your actually solving anything at all really which is a real shame.
The pace is broken up at times with random mini games such as dusting for prints or cleaning up found objects by blowing in to the DS mic. more of then than not this sort of a thing detracts from the game in hand bu these are a welcome distration as the serial monotony of object locating soon starts to grate as you basically repeat the same process over and over on each room.
Longevity wise depends on your visual skills on picking out these objects but even if you’re stumped you get X number of hints on each location taht show you eactly the location of the item you are looking for. Due to the random element of the game in picking different object on each scene longevity is increased but I am fairly certain you will be trading this title in long before you need to worry about running out of objects to find.
Final Thoughts: Now I seem to, on reflection, have geven a pretty negative overview of the game and so you are probably wondering why the score is as good as it is. Well for all its failings MCF does a good job of entertaining you. The game is simply too easy for adults and most likely not engaging enough for a younger audience. It is very easy to pickup and play and as mention a good casual travelling choice. I would recommend you take a look if your a fan of this type of game as what is here has been done well and with care – the game has some relativly amusing pun-based moments and the finding of the items is gratiying enough. I feel bad being so down on the game but the fact of the matter is that you are getting a glorified flash game for £25 and you need to be at peace with that.