Nintendo DS is littered with so many hidden object games nowadays that it becomes almost impossible to keep track of what is decent and what is simple fodder. The other confusing matter is that every publisher and his dog is jumping on the bandwagon, including smaller outfits that have not been heard of by the general gaming public. With the state of the DS at retail in Europe, as well, release dates shift considerably, so again keeping track of when something actually hits the streets becomes a major headache. One thing is clear, though: Hollywood Files: Deadly Intrigues from Easy Interactive is indeed out now in the UK and is an ‘intriguing’ inclusion into the bustling genre.
Players take on the role of Zoey, a private investigator who runs a detective agency in Hollywood. In Hollywood Files: Deadly Intrigues, Zoey is working on a new case, the death of Peter, a famous actor involved in a freak car accident. Was it murder? Clues and the unravelling of various mysteries are the only way to get to the bottom of matters and find out if client Robert Danson is in fact the culprit behind the heinous crime.
The story of Hollywood Files: Deadly Intrigues flows through the use of comic book panels with minimalistic visuals that work well during the interludes as portraits and hand-drawn scenes appear on the touch-screen and the text bubbles pop up on the top screen, but then in the main game there is a tendency to mix in real life characters into the rendered backgrounds. Whilst this worked sufficiently well in the PC edition, the graphics have merely been condensed and squeezed into the DS, and as a result some of the locales are quite difficult to clearly view, making item locating really tough at times, especially when trying to uncover smaller objects.
There are thirty levels to work through in total, ten per chapter, and the comic book approach is quite a pleasing one that, as mentioned, works nicely in keeping the pace of the story development swift enough to maintain interest. The issue with the visuals is not a disastrous one, and finding objects is possible with an extra level of scrutiny that is not required in other examples, such as the superb Murder in Venice and Vampire Moon: Mystery of the Hidden Sun. As for the range of items to be found, on the one hand Hollywood Files delivers a wide amount of variety, yet on the other it leads to some extremely odd additions, like underpants, sometimes arising.
Each stage is a race against the clock, although the limit is usually more than sufficient to locate all items. There is a penalty for randomly tapping too much, which prevents the game from being too easy, and rather than being a mere points fine, deducting from the running total, every tap becomes a red cross and does not count for a short time. Areas are scrolled around via the D-pad or touch-screen, whilst tapping the stylus on the appropriate item removes it from the list found on the top screen. Not all objects can be discovered, though, with them having to appear on the list beforehand, since only a few items are listed at first, with more appearing once others have been found. With certain key pieces of equipment being used to solve clues later in the adventure, and a handful of mini-games to break the main objective up, Hollywood Files: Deadly Intrigues manages to serve up the usual staple features, yet never quite lifts itself above the crowd enough to make it an essential purchase for fans.
Finding objects is a simple case of scrolling around and tapping on them when found, yet due to the compression of the visuals this proves trickier than it should. All the staple features of the hidden object genre are present and correct, but it all lacks the shine of other recent releases.
Whilst the visuals are extremely impressive in their comic-book style form on the PC, the transition to DS has not been favourable, with distortion and a massive reduction in detail creeping in.
At first the music may sound so laid back that it fades away, but after several levels filled with hidden objects, realisation sets in that the music is in fact quite cool, funky and does not grow too repetitive when playing on some of the tougher levels that have you spending more time than normal scouring scenes for items.
Easy Interactive has included a good mix of mini-games, item creation and hidden object play to keep Hollywood Files interesting, but it all ends very abruptly.
Hollywood Files: Deadly Intrigues is an enjoyable hidden object affair with a decent detective story intertwined, offering all the staple features of other games of its ilk, yet never quite shining enough or offering that extra ‘je ne sais quoi’ to lift it above competitors. If you have tried everything else and are eager for more, then this is not the worst option, yet neither is it anywhere near the best.