Mystery Stories for the DS

Rating: 5/10

Confession time. I’m a snob. A gaming snob that is. If a game doesn’t have a storyline, defined characters and doesn’t last more than ten hours then it’s not for me. You could say I am stuck in my ways, for the first game I played seriously (i.e. played and actually knew what I was doing rather than just giggling at the funny characters), was Final Fantasy® VII, and since then I’ve only really played games which I can get stuck into; the ones that play like a good book and absorb you into their world.

Nowadays the gaming world seems to have become more commercialised, with many games released to attract, in general, young girls. The games I’m talking about are the ones where you raise virtual pets, ride virtual horses or pretend to be a doctor or a chef. These games I don’t consider ‘proper’ games. They seem to be produced just to make money, rather than for entertainment. Therefore when I received Mystery Stories for the DS on my birthday I was a little apprehensive. A lot of puzzle games have been released of late due to the huge success of the Professor Layton series. But I like a good puzzle as much as the next nerd so I put it in and turned the DS on, and didn’t turn it off again for a good couple of hours.

It’s a simple idea: you have to find specific items in a certain area, some of which are deceptively hidden. You get different kinds of clues telling you which items to find: sometimes it gives you a list, sometimes a picture, whilst at other times you have to listen to the sound the required item makes. There is also the odd Spot the Difference added in, as well as other mini puzzles, which all in all make this an oddly addictive game.

Of course it doesn’t match up to Layton standards. For one thing there are no impressively tall top hats. But with Layton you get to play as believable characters that you start to care about. In Mystery Stories there are characters, but instead of hiring a character designer, the creators seem to have just hired a bunch of models, dressed them up in costume and taken various pictures of them smiling, looking surprised, worried; their range is endless! Then they have stuck some equally cheesy dialogue to go with said photos. And the levels can get a bit bizarre, like the one where you must locate eighteen pieces of lingerie. Yet if you ignore the obvious flaws then this is certainly a game which can relieve your boredom for hours on end. So I think I shall swallow my humble pie and simply say that you can’t judge a game by its box, so just give it a go. You may be surprised.