Spot It! Mean Machines
DSiWare | Big John Games | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now (North America) | 200 Nintendo Points
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29th November 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
Spot It! Mean Machines is a digitized form of Mean Machines: A Spot-It Challenge, a children's book that is part of a series designed to engage through simple directives and high-quality photographs. That being said, this is not a straight translation, as Big John Games has made it so that their companion product presents something different that can't be replicated when sitting down to inspect via the traditional method. Much of the critiquing, then, rests with the interface and the extent to which the design oversees everything in forming something of a unique experience.
Mean Machines immediately displays more cohesion than its predecessor, if only because there's a uniting theme being professed at the outset. The reality is some scenes take on the theme of emergency rescue and undersea exploration, while others are simply piles of junk that you'll have to sift through to find what you're looking for. Objects scattered about aren't just limited to machinery. It is often that these make up the bulk of the layouts to apply some sense of direction to the mess, and being that they are easy to recognize, these can be used as mental markers to help you identify with surrounding items that you may be later asked to retrieve. Also making the game accessible to play is the fact that items are repeated -- a bit too much, in fact -- across multiple scenes, so when you're asked to seek out an igloo or a plastic set of carrots, you'll often have an existing idea of what you're looking for.
The clues are not riddle-based, but instead come in the form of a list, with items being specified on a gradual basis and having individual time limits imposed upon them. To clear the puzzle, you'll need to locate 20 items in all, but players won't feel lastingly upset with themselves if one of these locks out because the allotted time expires -- just so long as they don't make it a habit. Occasionally, some of the listed objects will have a bomb icon attached to it, meaning that if you can track a specific item down, you can remove a locked item from your list and still have it count to your total, despite the fact that you didn't actually locate the item when you were instructed to do so.
Items found in each scene won't change with the difficulty setting. Rather, the adjustment in difficulty relates to the length of time these remain active on your list, while also limiting how many can be locked out before reaching a Game Over. To some extent, this limits the replay value in the sense that there's little-to-no variation when you return to a particular scene for another crack at it, and I see that as not fully realizing the possibilities that have been extended as a result of this print-based material transitioning to videogame format. I don't expect changing "riddles" as if this were part of the I Spy series, but seeing as it's not hard to mentally memorize the details of each scene -- if not on your first, then on your second try -- it would've done more for the game had this been given a bit more attention. And if anyone wonders in the back of their mind why hints aren't provided, I'm positive it's for this very reason.
The contents might've differed slightly over Spot It! Challenge, but the general remark to be made is that Mean Machines is essentially the same game with new scenes. The only difference, really, is the zoom-out option. That wasn't there before, and I was pleased to see it added this time around. Still, my feelings on the music and quality of the images haven't changed -- and by that I mean it could be better, especially with the undistinguished textures and aliasing that exists in small areas. There are a few typos, though, and I don't recall detecting anything like that in the first game.
Whether you picked up the first game or have a new interest thanks to this particular entry, it's very easy to make a case for it at only $2. Spot It! Mean Machines is mildly enjoyable for both young and old, and while replayability may still be limited, the general value has enough strength to it for this admittedly minor concern to fade into the background.
19/30 - Okay/Average
Gameplay 7/10 - Decent system used to add tension and direction, bombs offer a second chance, certain objects are repeated quite often
Presentation 7/10 - The newly-added zoom feature helps with the navigation, everything else is pretty much the same, could look better in places
Enjoyment 3/5 - Can be quite challenging depending on your age, fairly accessible and can be mildly fun in small doses
Extra Content 2/5 - Listings generally remain the same on repeat tries, difficulty relates more to speed than variation, pass-and-play multiplayer
Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System