Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Hidden object games generally come in two varieties. There are seek and find/adventure hybrids where the gaming is point-and-click, and puzzles provide tools and clues for progression. And there are simple Eye-Spy titles that mimic paper books like Where’s Waldo. Funny Woods HD (also available for iPhone) tries to mix adventure elements in with the traditional form, and the result is a highly polished hot mess.
The adventuring is built into a story about Mossy, a pea, moss-ball or some other round green thing found in nature, who finds a treasure map. A storm rips it from him scattering pieces about the woodlands. He and his friends must find the missing pieces, tag-team style. But the only mystery is what the next background will look like. The story component doesn’t go anywhere and has no real impact on the gaming.
All of the six worlds are a treat to look at, with an assortment of oddball creatures recreating not just in the forest, but in labs, on racetracks and in swamps. There are all kinds of neat little animations bringing scenes to life. Tapping on critters even toggles action. But the objects sought, particularly in the introductory level where they are all monochrome, are so small and blend in to the background so much, it’s all but impossible to complete a single board without some seriously frantic random tapping and lots of consternation.
To thwart the tap-happy, floating clouds or bubbles veil the scene and must be moved out of the way to reach items beneath them. The game even rewards this behavior. In the 50 some-odd achievements and awards were several I unlocked with alacrity: one for popping 200 bubbles and four badges for taking one, three, five and 10 minutes respectively to find a single item.
Players can use a magnifying glass once per round. It’s kind of cheating, but I challenge anyone not to use it as often as possible. There are also paid cheats in the form of two in-app purchases called “all powerful” and “all seeing” with no further explanation. Hazarding a guess from the icons, the former likely gives 10 hints and the latter unlocks all the worlds. There's also a survival mode, for a quick shot of object hunting. It’s time limited, but starts in any random location, giving players a chance to check out all the amazing art.
Forest World is a perfect example of style over substance, and it's unclear at whom the game is being marketed. It would be ideal for children, but it's too hard, and adults are likely to be put off by the childish antics in the backgrounds. The game is eye pleasing, but middling controls, annoying - rather than challenging - obstacles, and an utter lack of adventure makes for a frustrating experience.