Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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Alawar Games has delivered a charming little hidden object mystery to the iPad in the form of Natalie Brooks: The Treasures of the Lost Kingdom HD. It's a casual mystery that will engage your brain just a bit, though its simple premise and play may make it most appealing to kids.
In the game, you play globetrotting teenage detective Natalie Brooks -- a spunky girl in the vein of Nancy Drew and the Scooby Gang -- as she attempts to save her grandfather from some archeological thieves. The plot is not terribly deep, but it works well enough to get the game along.
In terms of play, it's a fun little puzzle game that blends the popular hidden objects search with some object use puzzles and some minigames. The hidden object searches are generally well designed. The object puzzles are generally straightforward. The minigames are a mixed bag, both in terms of challenge and in terms of touch controls; but never are they bad, nor do they impede play.
It's fun, but not terribly challenging. Most often, you'll be able to quickly figure things out; and for the times you can't, there's a hint button with a short reset time and a "Skip" button for mini puzzles, both of which make sure you never stay stuck for long. I actually didn't like this aspect of the game; I would have much preferred a more challenging game with less free help.
Visually, the game looks good. This is the HD version of an iPhone game, but the graphics don't look simply upscaled. This looks retooled for the iPad. The between-scene comic animations aren't anything to shout about, but I've seen far worse in apps before (the comic narrative being a popular technique in app games, for some reason). I even enjoyed the jaunty mystery music that plays along in the background.
One problem this game has is re-playability. Once you've gone through the plot and solved things, there's not much to compel you into a repeat play. The whole thing is unscored, with no penalty for wrong guesses, nor any online achievements or high score rankings. For $6.99, you get a couple of hours of fun, and then you'll likely delete the app.
All in all, I think that this is a game that will appeal to the younger iPad crowd. Its teenage hero and rather simple play seem aimed squarely at a younger audience. For adults who enjoy hidden object puzzles and casual adventures, Natalie Brooks: The Treasures of the Lost Kingdom HD might also be worth a look.