Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix Collector's Edition
Ers are listening! Much better than expected
I almost didn't try this game. The developer, Ers, has become so formulaic that I didn't want to bother. But the reviews were good so I gave it a shot and was pleasantly surprised.
In addition to a new storyline, atmosphere, music, and voice talent, Ers threw in a surprise - fully interactive H0 scenes which are small logic puzzles. Find an object and use it within a scene to uncover other objects. These aren't particularly challenging but they do take a bit of thought and are great fun. One scene in particular - a puppet show stage - was absolutely charming. I could play an entire game based on that scene alone. I wish there had been more of them, they are about half of the H0 scenes. The regular H0 scenes were a little monochromatic which made them more frustrating than fun but they were spread out.
The rest of the game is fairly standard hidden object adventure with areas to explore, inventory to use and an evil witch to banish. Ers has always been very good at dressing up the standard mini-games or giving them a new twist. This game was no exception - the mechanics were familiar but the presentation was fresh.
Even on hardcore mode, there were a few too many back box hints. Worse, there were hints for every item in the puzzle H0's. Since that was my favorite aspect of this game, I wish they hadn't done that.
The animals in this game are just wonderful. I won't buy a game just because it has a really adorable fairy-mouse, or perfect hedgehog nose twitches but it does add quite a lot.
The bonus game was more of the same. It only took about 30 minutes.
In hindsight, I wish I had waited for the SE but I thought there would be as many of the puzzle H0's in the main game as there were in the demo. There are not and that was a bit disappointing.
April 14, 2012
song of the phoenix slightly out-of-tune
in this hidden object puzzle adventure, you are a princess of the dragon kingdom who is preparing to marry the prince of the phoenix kingdom. these two kingdoms have been at each other's throats for 300 years, so this marriage is of great importance. the fact that the prince and princess are actually in love only make everything that much sweeter. however, just when your prince is scheduled to arrive, you learn he has been kidnapped by his evil cousin isa, who then declares you are his betrothed. your goals in this game are simple: find your prince and rescue him so you can marry and your two kingdoms can finally live in peace.
graphics: the art and graphics are absolutely wonderful. i also loved the cut scenes, which are integral to the story. they elevated this from simply "a fun HOPA" into a truly exceptional experience. these cut scenes made me feel i was watching a full-length theatre film. the hidden object scenes were interesting; including item lists as well as shadow lists (the shadow of an item is shown and you have to find the object). the hidden object scenes often required you to locate one item or more that you then used to find or create another item that was necessary to progress in the story -- a bit of a logic puzzle within the hidden object scenes.
this game just feels so generous because, for example, even though a hint button is provided, there is no click penalty. additionally, this hidden object game is generous with the puzzles and mini-games, which i also enjoy -- and these were actually part of the storyline rather than silly busywork. the puzzles and mini-games are well thought out, interesting and solvable, and have hint buttons (although -- generously -- a skip button is provided, too). further, the hint button is actually useful for a change, even outside of the hidden object scenes. there is a notebook (although it is beautiful, i think it is of limited use) and since there is minimal back-and-forth, a map is not essential.
music & soundtrack: music was average, certainly nothing exceptional (but also not annoying), but the voiceovers and sound effects were above average.
storyline: this is a typical good versus evil fairy tale, but the characters were so well developed (well, for a video game) that i actually wanted to follow the story to see how everyone fares.
my interaction: one hour demo, casual mode (this game has three modes; casual, advanced, and hardcore).
i highly recommend this game, but i must warn you about the inexplicably slow load times. the sluggish transitions between scenes and temporary cursor freezes drove me crazy (at least 10 seconds and sometimes even as long as 30 seconds -- yikes!). i wanted to play the game, not have my laptop freeze temporarily whilst i waited for the next scene to load! in fact, my four star rating -- which actually is 4.5 stars -- reflects my frustration with these technical issues, since i would otherwise have given this game 5 stars. i interrupted gameplay to check my laptop to make sure everything's up-to-date (it is) and none of my other games have this issue so i am baffled about the source of this annoyance. if you are interested in this game, i recommend you play the demo first to make sure you don't also suffer the same problem.
June 12, 2012
More than just an HO
Enjoyed this game immensely. Good storyline draws you into gameplay. Lots of puzzles beyond hidden object. Even the hidden object was interesting as extra combos needed to complete. Collectors edition had short story that continued on from main storyline and was a little tougher to figure out what to do next but not disjointed.
Final thoughts: Happy with purchase and looking forward to other games by this developer.
April 15, 2012
Another high standard game.
Would like to give 4 1/2 stars - a beautifully done game, but without any extra frills.
Absolutely stunning graphics, good voice-overs, and lovely cut-scenes. Catered for wide-screen.
I played the hardest level, yet still got those annoying sparkles.
No bonus items to find or achievements to earn.
Both the hidden object games and puzzles were relatively easy, but they also both varied slightly from the norm. I really enjoyed it when certain hidden object games required a task to find the next item, and so forth. The puzzles weren't much different to normal, but were presented in such a way that they appeared fairly novel. .
The story flowed nicely and made sense, and the game wasn't very long, but still a passable length.
The bonus chapter followed on nicely from the main story but was not an essential part of it. It was also a passable length.
April 23, 2012
song of the phoenix sings bright
If you have played any of the puppet master games then you will surely like playing this seek and find.The game has a good story line and it is kinda quick to play.(special note) I like any bad guy who uses a black panther for the animal you don't want to mess with....have fun
April 12, 2012
Really enjoyed playing this game. The disappointment came at the end, with the oh so abrupt ending. Before the bonus play, the ending was abrupt, so I was not bothered too much, but at the end of the bonus play - whump done. I can't go back where it ended unless I start over. Did I miss something?
May 1, 2012
Mesmerizing and compelling
Outstanding graphics. Interesting puzzles. Lots of surprises and adventure. A long playing top quality game. Once I began playing the game, it was difficult to stop as I wanted to see what would happen next. One suggestion: please get away from the overdone wicked witch theme and good vs evil. There is a lot of adversity in life and it usually involves shades of gray. Try for a more believable tale.
May 7, 2012
Well worth your time and money
loved this game. kept me busy for a long while. graphics great, sound quality great, game play wonderful with a good story line. bonus play just as much fun. could not quit until I reached the end of it. well worth the money. I know I will play it again. enjoy!
April 23, 2012
Nice Fantasy that will keep you busy
This was a nice fantasy game that keeps the story moving effortlessly. Not an overabundance of HOscenes, some of which took a new twist, & tho not difficult, they were fun & warded off the monotony of serial HOS. There were plenty of puzzles, lots to, & it's quite pleasing visually - bright, colorful, nice graphix. The music isn't invasive. Voice overs were well done. Difficulty level, well, that's relative to your skill level, but you've got 3 level choices. I think this game could appeal to any level of player who enjoys the fantasy genre & is looking for a well done game. The extra gameplay was as well done as the rest of the game but imo isn't crucial to end the story, so the SE would be fine. Have fun with this one!
April 26, 2012
Fantasy Meets Strategy
I love that it is a strategy game, but you don't have to go from beginning to end to beginning to end to solve each puzzle. So far, I like the different types of puzzles, and I like the story line.
April 13, 2012