Hidden object games are a nice match for the PSP Minis range, with their relaxed nature passing the time on a commute or ad break with ease. Route 66 scored well with a 7 a few months ago, so let’s see what G5 Entertainment can come up with.
There’s an actual story here, as a young archaeologist (that absolutely does not look like Lara Croft) is searching for her father who went missing while searching for the Crystal Portal. It’s not exactly Fallout 3, but the effort is appreciated.
The levels take place around the world in America, Japan, the Swiss Alps, Guatemala, Africa and Russia; usually in a temple or villager’s hut/cave. Rather than have a list of items at the bottom of the screen to find you have to drag your cursor around the screen until it becomes a hand. Clicking on the item will then open up a sub-window with some black and white pictures of the items you need to find. Once you’ve found them, the original item you clicked may move to reveal something. There are typically five items with their own sub-collections in each screen.
It’s a bit annoying being forced to click around till something works and opens up a list. Finding the required items afterwards isn’t too difficult and some welcome variety is thrown in by them sometimes being drawn from a different angle than the list window. Unlike Route 66, the items are lying around naturally in very cluttered environments. You won’t find anything coloured blue in the sky for example.
There are no time limits so you never feel rushed and there’s a rechargeable hint that will activate a sparkly blue trail leading to an item. It’s pretty useful when the game decides to hide something behind the useless item bar at the bottom of the screen.
End of stage puzzles act like a boss fight of sorts, which are a welcome distraction. These consist of refracting light with prisms, balancing weights, gear cog arrangement, deciphering a Mayan calendar, or arranging puzzle pieces to make a single image. Again, there’s no time limit and some of them even lock pieces in place as soon as they’re in the correct slot so it’s impossible to mess it up.
The music is pretty quiet throughout, but there is some ambient noise relevant to the location that fits in well. For the most part the well-drawn images are static, but there are occasional flourishes of movement such as cherry blossom petals in the wind in Japan.
I encountered some pretty bad glitches towards the end of the game, with huge white squares blocking out sections of the image, fortunately they were usually centred on a clickable object. Repetition is a negative factor too as by the end of the game you’ll be sick of looking for the same water jugs, axes and necklaces over and over again. A few different items would have done the game a world of good.
The Mystery of the Crystal Portal is nothing new, but will provide a few hours entertainment. Ideal for a quick five minute blast, but you’ll probably get sucked in for a lot longer.
- Easy-going entertainment
- Ambient sounds create a soothing atmosphere
- Lasts for a good few hours
- Too much random clicking till you activate the next list
- Doesn’t really make sense why you have to find certain items to find others
- Glitchy towards the end
The Short Version: The initial ‘click everything’ approach required to get the ball rolling in each level holds the game back, and the glitches towards the end are disappointing. However, as a quick bit of fun for plugging life’s little gaps the game can be quite enjoyable.