Season of Mystery: The Cherry-Blossom Murders

This is a bizarre game.

Do you remember the old “Find the Object” game in Highlights magazine? This is that about 25 times set in Japan for some reason. It was completely and utterly mind-numbing.

I initially assumed the “searches” were going to be for clues, since it is, ostensibly, a murder mystery. But the objects you have to find are random. Why do I need to find five frogs and an elephant before I’m allows to go into a guy’s house? Why are there fans absolutely everywhere? Why am I wasting time trying to locate three eggs in the kitchen before I look in the fire to see what the cook was burning?

Oh, and despite how many goddamn find-the-object puzzles there were, there were only a handful of maps, so you were often finding the same objects multiple times. I powered through mostly out of irritation that someone could think conning people into doing one of these 50 fucking times was a good idea.

The game’s page claims there are more than 1,200 hidden objects to find. 1,200.

ONE THOUSAND AND TWO HUNDRED!

In an abortive attempt to break off the monotony, the game would often force you to play matching games (think: flip over and find pairs) or wave your cursor around the screen until it glowed. Once in a while there was a very basic “puzzle” where the answer was immediately obvious, like “find the house spite that matches this description.” But 90% of it was find-the-item. I think if you added up all the times I did those as a child, they would be less than the amount I did over the course of the last three hours. This game retails for $5! Mercifully, I got it for half off during a Steam sale, but I still feel like eating the $2.50 would have been a more constructive use of money, and I’d be three hours younger.

There’s not a single second where story and “gameplay” integrate, and the whole thing is just weird. I don’t understand what the developer was going for. The murder mystery itself is crappy and can’t be solved by the player, so it doesn’t make you think or anything, and it’s incredibly short — without all the god-awful object-hunts, it can’t be more than a half-hour worth of text. There’s barely any story and barely any gameplay. But the art is pretty, I guess? If you want to make pretty art you don’t also have to fabricate a so-called game around it in order to justify it. Just make nice pictures.

To make it even stranger, this was, for some reason, published by Square-Enix. I don’t even know.

 

10 Comments

  1. SpoonyViking says:
    …This seems like it should have been a free game on Facebook or something.
    1. actonthat says:
      Basically. Or even a mobile game.
  2. PostguestivePostistPhase says:
    Was it the butler? We can then call it a “postmodern deconstructivist look at the tropes of mystery genre” or something to justify charging for it.
    1. actonthat says:
      That would have actually been entertaining.

      It was the ~corrupt cop~, obviously.

  3. Ember says:
    Hidden Object Games are apparently a somewhat popular indie genre. There are people who enjoy them, for whatever reason. It seems like the main problem here was failure in marketing.
    1. actonthat says:
      TBH I wouldn’t have minded *that* much except that a) there were so few maps and b) the devs couldn’t be bothered to integrate the searches into the story.

      I think it wanted to be an Ace Attorney-style thing but just didn’t have the chops to follow through.

      1. Ember says:
        No, what you’re describing is a perfectly standard Hidden Object Game. The item-search parts of Ace Attorney games are more puzzle-adventure genre. Hidden Object Games are less concerned with story-gameplay integration. That’s not what the people who play them are there for.
        1. actonthat says:
          Interesting. There’s a niche for everything, I guess!
      2. alice says:
        Hidden Object games are a genre of casual games that all are like that. They all have hidden object sequences, casual puzzles, and items you can pick up and use in places, like a simpler version of what you’d see in old-school adventure games. I played a bunch because I used to do casual game reviews, and they have their own genre conventions and everything. They’re very popular with older women, but basically unheard of among non-casual gaming audiences.

        Looking at this game’s page on Steam, it’s perfectly obvious to me what kind of game it would be, but it might not be obvious at all to someone who isn’t familiar with the genre. I can definitely see how it could’ve been clearer on what it was.

    2. SpoonyViking says:
      My fiancée loves them. That said, I’m not seeing anything here that would make me consider gifting her this game when there are already so many of them for free on Facebook and for the Ipad.

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