Review: Spot It! Mean Machines

Spot all the things!

By AzureEternal. Posted 11/17/2012 10:30 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
D+
Mediocre
grade/score info
1up
1-Up Mushroom for...
Mostly fun, addictive puzzles; multiplayer for up to four players; challenging yet rewarding.
1up
Poison Mushroom for...
Awful, AWFUL graphics; barebones presentation values; repetitive after a while; not enough randomization of items making the game feel more about simple memorization rather than having a keen eye; could benefit from more than just ten puzzles.

Spot It! Mean Machines, from developer Big John Games, is a hidden object DSiware title that asks players to find various items amidst piles of junk within a certain time period. While the game’s presentation values may best be described as junk themselves, the actual gameplay isn’t all that awful, that is if you’re looking to add a little I-spy puzzle compilation to your digital ranks. Even though you’ll spend the entire game scanning offensively grainy pictures in hopes of spotting certain concealed objects, you’ll eventually come to overlook how poor the game’s aesthetics are, and enjoy the addictive nature of hunting down these hidden treasures.

Spot It! Mean Machines’ modus operandi is quite basic: you look at static images whilst trying to spot various objects within a given amount of time. So you’ll scroll with the D-Pad, or drag and pull via the stylus, your way across these sprawling images reflecting spaces so filled with junk that even the world’s most notorious hoarder would feel uncomfortable. In effect, you’ll basically sift through a bunch of trash in order to find whichever item pops up on the top screen, which displays the current objective. It’ll take a keen eye and quick wit to find all 20 items in each puzzle, but fortunately missing one or two doesn’t hinder your progress too much.

There are ten stages, or puzzles, in the game, however, you’ll only start with one available to you, and will have to earn and unlock the rest. This may not sound like a lot, but the game is not easy. Even on “easy”, it isn’t easy. Maybe I’m just terrible at these types of games, though, it felt more like this game just being really challenging. It should be noted that’s a good thing for this type of title.

spot it mean machines screenshotUnfortunately, it only takes a few attempts at each puzzle before you just naturally start remembering the items’ locations. This makes the whole experience feel like a game of trial, error, and memorization, rather than being one that demands a fast but meticulous eye. Although the developers do throw in some random objects to keep it all fresh, they didn’t do it enough to make a true difference. I would have much preferred the puzzle items to be completely generated in a random way, but due to the pre-rendered nature of the puzzles and included piles of trash, that’s not entirely possible.

That aside, if ten stages still don’t feel like a whole lot, there’s a nice multiplayer mode to add a bit of longevity. Better yet, it supports four people, which could ideally make for a fantastic Saturday night with buds and beers. This helps with the inevitable feelings of repetition, but can still get a bit old after a while.

The core of Spot It: Mean Machines is actually pretty solid. It’s disappointing, then, that the game’s primary detractor is its miserable appearance. I mean, really, these graphics are bad – so bad, that I hesitate to even call them graphics. After all, the presentation is about as barebones as you can get; the music is totally and utterly forgettable, and the static images are so granulated that it’s hard to find the desired objects when you’re just staring in amazement at how terrible it all looks. If you don’t care about that type of thing, or can easily look past it, there’s a very fun hidden object puzzle game to play.


Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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