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About Hidden Object Games

Hidden object games are a type of downloadable casual game for the computer. As the name suggests, these games are like virtual scavenger hunts in which the player is tasked with picking out particular objects on a play screen that is cluttered with distractions.

1. Features
Play occurs on a series of screens that resemble two-dimensional paintings. The environment in each screen can vary, from a messy office to exotic natural locations. The player is presented with a list of objects to find among these environments and uses the computer's mouse to select them. The objects the player must find may be fitting with the scene, such as a clock in someone's home, or completely random, such as sporting goods in the middle of the jungle. In some cases, these objects stick out quite obviously, but other times they blend perfectly into their surroundings. Only through careful scanning will these objects be found. The plots behind these games are typically secondary to the gameplay itself, and they often focus on themes of exploration or mystery. The player may take the role of a detective or an adventurer who collects clues to solve crimes or puzzles.

2. History
According to the website PC Games Junkie, the first ever hidden object game was "Mystery Case Files: Huntsville." Released by the casual games portal Big Fish Games in November 2005, this game put players in the role of a detective trying to solve a town's crime problems. By investigating various locales for clues, the player is able to piece together the culprit behind each case. Big Fish released five more hidden object games in 2006, two of which were follow-ups to the Mystery Case Files series, but the genre really took off in 2007, when the games portal hosted over 30 new games. Five more games were released in 2008. Today, hidden object games are among the top game genres at Big Fish, Gamezebo, and other gaming websites.

3. Size
Hidden object games can take at least five hours to complete, and likely more if the player isn't particularly fast in finding objects. Games downloaded through Big Fish's website typically include a one hour trial period, with all the game's features included. After that time, the player may elect to purchase the full game without losing the progress already made.

4. Types
Many hidden object games consist of the same core gameplay, but with a few key differences. "Mystery Case Files: Huntsville," for example, pits players against the clock. The player is given 15 minutes to solve each puzzle, which can consist of several play screens, followed by a special sequence that requires sliding tiles into place to form a picture. If the player fails, she must restart the puzzle with different hidden objects to find. Additionally, the player is penalized time off the clock for clicking the mouse too rapidly. This type of hidden object game is better suited for advanced players. Another popular game, "Veronica Rivers: Portals to the Unknown," is easier for beginners. There is no time limit, and the only penalty for clicking the mouse too fast is a temporary freeze on the ability to find objects. Most games also implement a hint system, in which one hidden object becomes briefly highlighted. In "Veronica Rivers," hints are unlimited, but the player must wait 15 seconds between activating them. In "Mystery Case Files," players are only allowed three hints per puzzle. Other games, such as the
"Hidden Expedition" series, allow the player to regain hints by finding certain hidden objects.

5. Expert Insight
Like many casual games, all hidden object games are somewhat similar, but it is the small differences that might make them more alluring to particular players. Buyers should use Big Fish's one hour trial periods to discover the kind of hidden object game that best suits them. Consider the level of difficultly, but also think about any extra features the game offers. For example, "Mystery Case Files" presents players with a set number of cases and the opportunity to rise through the detective ranks. "Veronica Rivers," however, relies more on one continuous narrative that unfolds with each successful puzzle. Only spend money on these games when you've found the kind of experience that will keep you happy for hours on end.

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