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Time Geeks: Find All!

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Lost and partially found

Product: Time Geeks: Find All! | Developer: Ivanovich Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Retro | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: US | App version: 1.0
Time Geeks: Find All! iPhone, thumbnail 1
Finding things hidden in plain sight - it's what makes hidden objects games fun.

Abandon that most basic of rules by situating objects behind other items or obscuring the view of the screen and you erode what makes hidden object games enjoyable. You might as well take the shooting out of a first-person shooter or the jumping mechanics out of a platformer.

Time Geeks: Find All! breaks this rule in search of innovation, yet ends up destroying the very formula it seeks to improve. A constantly obscured view, unnecessary time limits, and technical issues weigh heavily on the game's charming presentation.

Fear what you can't see

And disarmingly charming it is. It's hard to believe that behind the adorable, pop culture reference-laced pixel-art graphics is a game with a long list of flaws. Time Geeks: Find All! has a sympathetic quality that makes you to want to like it, even if its gameplay leaves much to be desired.

The biggest problem relates to a constant blocking of the screen. Charged with finding objects and people hidden across the span of time, the Time Geeks trio have taken to a time-travelling pod that hovers above each isometric level.

As you slide a finger across the screen to move across the landscape, the pod moves too. This has the annoying effect of blocking part of your view, which in turn prevents you from searching a portion of the scene.

To survey the area which the pod blocks, you're forced to move the scene again; however, the pod repositions itself and so continues to obscure your view. Add in clouds and other assorted flying objects, and you have a hidden object game that does a fine job of preventing you from searching for the very objects that you're asked to find.

Time is of the essence

It's a surprising flaw that undercuts any attempt at innovation. While Time Geeks: Find All! has the right visual style, its design is misguided.

Working around the aforementioned obstructions is possible, although you still have to contend with arbitrary time limits. Rather than present you with a list of items to be found at your leisure, the game tells you to find one object or several versions of the same object within a set period of time. It's an ironic limitation given the Time Geeks' control of time.

Rewarding quick discovery is a good thing, but if you can't locate an item you ought to be able to take as much time as you need and not have the level end because of the clock.

Relax mode allows this, but it's only unlocked after you've completed the main History mode. Making this available immediately would be better, although such a mode would be needless if the campaign did away with time limits.

Out of focus

It could also do away with the lame mini-games that sandwich levels. Variants of ball-in-cup, penalty kick, whack-a-mole - these aren't cream of the crop mini-game fare.

There's nothing more emblematic of the game's focus on graphics to the detriment of gameplay then the level editor that enables you to create your own scenes to share with friends - not as playable levels, but only as static art.

Most disconcerting are technical issues that hamper performance on iPhone 4 and outright halt play on older devices.

Time Geeks: Find All! stuttered on iPhone 4, particularly during the Black Smoke mini-game. This same mini-game triggers a crash when played on a second-generation iPod touch. Developer Ivanovich Games promises an update soon. [UPDATE: An update addressing these technical issues is now available.]

Even with its technical demerits resolved, Time Geeks: Find All! will still carry major design shortcomings. Intentional blocking of the screen undercuts hidden object gameplay and use of time limits - no matter how lenient - are unnecessary.

Ultimately, too much of the pleasure of Time Geeks: Find All! is in the presentation, and not enough is in the gameplay.
Time Geeks: Find All!
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 6 October 2010
A stylish, well-intended hidden object game, Time Geeks: Find All! undercuts its attempt at innovation with fundamentally misguided design
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