Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident (Wii) Nintendo Review
Nintendo had massive success publishing Big Fish Games’ Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir on Nintendo DS a few years back. When interviewed by Cubed3, the development team mentioned that they did acknowledge the fact that the Wii was a viable platform for the seek-and-find genre and if that option aligned with their plans something would transpire. Thankfully something has indeed transpired and it has turned out to be a very special game. Cubed3 explains exactly why Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident should definitely be added to your shopping list.
There are some series that all link together, with stories tying everything into one handy timeline so that players can come into a new entry with a great sense of familiarity. However, in the case of seek-and-find titles, such as Mystery Stories, sometimes it is better to maintain a fresh element to each new edition due to the similar nature in the overall gameplay. The same is true here, since Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident has no connection whatsoever with the DS game Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir. Distancing itself from the DS game may well be a positive factor for The Malgrave Incident as well, since the portable edition, whilst decent, was quite lacklustre overall, whereas this Wii game is the pinnacle of hidden object-style affairs found on any Nintendo format so far.
Big Fish Games and Sanzaru Games have taken a more serious slant with this latest entry into the Mystery Case Files branding. Players take on the role of a detective from the Mystery Case Files Detective Agency enlisted by a old gentleman by the name of Winston Malgrave, a very British chap in nature, and curator of the island, who wishes to spend his extraordinary wealth on retrieving magically powerful dust that has been scattered around the intriguing and enigmatic Malgrave Island and locate his missing wife, Sarah. During the investigation, though, some smart sleuthing starts to uncover a far deeper mystery that must be unravelled before departing from the peculiar isle that was once a bustling tourist hotspot thanks to stories of rejuvenating waters that remove signs of ageing from those who bathed in them.
Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident is filled with brilliant British voice acting, as well as plenty of high quality cut-scenes that help drive the story along. Whilst the Nintendo DS edition, Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir, may have taken a more cartoon-like approach, this Wii edition is extremely well polished and has a far more ‘mature’ feel to the overall adventure, something that is equally supported by the peaceful, melodic music that augments the atmosphere even more. The development team has truly excelled, taking full advantage of the Wii hardware to recreate Malgrave Island in the true form it was likely conceived on paper. This new Mystery Case Files is a true joy to play through thanks to its high aesthetic value, as well as its excellent core gameplay.
There are what the game describes as ‘befuddling mechanisms’ and ‘obstructions’ strewn around the areas visited that Mr. Malgrave states are there to hinder progress. What he is referring to, though, are basically the normal style of puzzles or conundrums included in the better quality seek-and-find adventures that have been released on the DS this generation (and to a lesser degree on Wii, with Cate West likely the highest profile hidden object game on the home console scene). Other than the standard scenes where object need to be found, these extra puzzles range from ones where tiles of varying colours must be flipped to form paths between two corresponding shades, without letting any of the paths cross, to really devious ones where patterns must be figured out in terms of numerous objects on the screen, and even mathematical-based challenges. There are also interactive areas within hidden object puzzles themselves, with players sometimes being asked to open items or pull on levers in order to create a physical change that allows for special objects to be discovered.
Other favourite aspects from the genre return in Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident, with the inclusion of items being added to an inventory after a hidden object round has been completed, with these subsequently being used in inventive ways in order to help with progress further into the journey (use a hacksaw to cut chains on a locked gate, a bug zapper to kill bees blocking the street, adding missing pieces to a key puzzle, and so on). As for the hidden object puzzles themselves, there are normally twelve items to locate around a particular scene, with the player given the option to zoom out to view the full extent of the area in order to scour for items, or zoom in to two different levels, getting really up-close-and-personal, using the Wii Remote to pan around simply by moving the controller around so that when the on-screen pointer is dragged towards the edge of the screen the viewpoint moves. There are times when an object you want to click on is at the corner of the screen, but when moving the cursor across it causes the scene to pan slightly and obscure said item due to the multi-layered nature of hidden object scenes. In cases like this, holding the ‘B’ trigger freezes the panning option and allows for quick selection of the awkward object. There are definitely some craftily hidden items that prove to be a welcomed added level of challenge.
The idea is that, upon completing a scene, purple regenerative dust is collected in the Wii Remote-like device provided by Winston Malgrave himself. Once a certain amount of dust has been collected via various hidden object levels, it is then possible to deliver it to a special contraption that opens a gateway to a new section of the island you are currently on. In order to input the required amount, though, the mechanism’s central dial must be rotated to create a gully for the dust to flow into. These machines are found around the in-game world and normally need some form of activation before they can receive more dust, such as locating missing parts. Rather than being placed one after the other, however, new seek-and-find challenges appear in numerous different locations, including those previously visited. In order to track these down, use of an in-game map feature is required, with general hotspots being highlighted where puzzles can be found, and the player then being able to look around that general vicinity for them.
The most intriguing aspect of Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident is how the world sometimes may seem quite small and rather claustrophobic, but various routes open up in the most unexpected ways, making it almost reminiscent of classic adventures such as Myst, and with the added element of being able to warp from place to place using the map function, there are no tiresome moments when backtracking is required, unless you specifically prefer to move from location to location on foot. Overall it may not be an overly lengthy excursion to the island of Malgrave, but compared to other games of its ilk, it fares quite well in the longevity stakes and most certainly proves to be one of the best in the genre, with a whole host of extremely pleasing extra puzzles mixed into the general object finding elements, along with the gripping storyline itself.
There is also the added task of finding special items around the island, taking part in multiplayer adventuring antics, or even facing off against a friend in competitive scenarios, as well as wandering around the island after completing the main game in a ‘Free Mode’ where you can keep playing different hidden object puzzles to your heart’s content. Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident has almost everything you could possibly want from a seek-and-find adventure and proves that the Wii is just as viable as platform for the genre as the DS.
Multi-layered hidden object scenes bring a whole new level of deceptive item placement that works wonderfully and the Wii pointer controls are a perfect fit for object searching, with the screen slowing scrolling as the cursor reaches the edge of your TV. Other than that, the level of intricacy of extra puzzles really gets the brain working and complements the adventure really well.
The development team have gone full out to make this Wii version of Mystery Case Files as visually impressive, if not more so, than the numerous PC iterations, with brilliant use of 3D to portray the mysterious Malgrave Island and its plentiful supply of weird and wonderful locations.
Aurally this is a true success, with lots of moody, atmospheric music mixed with mysterious tunes that drive the story along, plus some fantastic British-style voice acting for the main character of Winston Malgrave, backed up by supporting roles later in the story.
Whilst not the longest of adventures, compared to most hidden object titles, The Malgrave Incident holds its own very well, with a whole slew of extra puzzles and challenges on top of a lengthy story, plenty of exploration and, of course, a massive batch of Seek-and-Find puzzle scenarios, with multiplayer options thrown in for good measure.
Nintendo and Big Fish Games have got a massive success on their hands with Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident. Piecing together a plentiful supply of expertly crafted hidden object scenes with lots of clever puzzles throughout, heaps of exploration and back-story to uncover, a pleasing amount of hidden extras to locate, and even a multiplayer element for the family to join in with, The Malgrave Incident is not only the best in the seek-and-find genre on Wii, but one of the best on the market in general.
This has managed to keep Xenoblade out of my Wii for a couple of weeks now. Quite surprising, right? Thoroughly enjoyed every last second of this and really hope it starts to pick up more after a very slow start here in the UK.
I have to say, I had no idea about these games until recently. I only ever knew about the DS one and thought that was a one off exclusive for the system. I had no idea there was so many other Mystery Case File games out on PC.
I'm currently playing Return to Ravenhurst and it's absolutely fantastic (I'm very engrossed!). I'm seriously considering picking this up for the Wii sometime now.