Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse Review

More than just a hidden object game

Princess Isabella A Witchs Curse Review
21st October, 2010 By Ian Morris
Game Info // Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse
Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse Boxart
Publisher: Avanquest
Developer: Avanquest
Players: 1
Subtitles: Full
Available On: DS
Genre: Hidden Object

While there's no questioning the popularity of hidden object games on the DS, there seems to have been a trend in recent times to move away from simply being hunt-the-object games, and a blurring of the boundaries. As part hidden object game, part classic point-and-click adventure, Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse straddles the two genres like a Princess a new pony, and it's all the better for it.

You take on the role of the princess in the title - a young royal, who's about to get hitched to the man of her dreams, when an evil darkness descends upon her castle, courtesy, you presume, of a jealous Witch, who'd much prefer to inherit either your kingdom, your man, or both. Not content with encasing the castle in a web of evil and darkness, the witch's spell also trapped everyone inside the castle in a number of mirrors, which were then shattered into hundreds of pieces across the castle. Never one to act like a damsel in distress, it's up to you to explore the ancient castle, unlocking its secrets, and restoring its people, as you try to right the witch's wrongs.

Princess Isabella: A Witchs Curse Screenshot

...Where do we begin!

Providing a great mix between traditional hidden object game style challenges, and the more taxing, logic based, Professor Layton style puzzles, Princess Isabella is a lot of fun to play. It gets the balance just about right, with enough simple spot-the-object puzzles to provide a much needed respite from the trickier brain teasers, as you waltz around the castle.

As a hidden object game at heart, everything about Princess Isabella requires a lot of observation. Even when moving from room to room in the castle (done by touching big arrows that appear near doors, or the edge of the screen), you'll have to keep your eyes peeled, as clues, or items for certain puzzles, and mirror shards are hidden amongst almost every room. Thankfully, they're usually fairly easy to spot, as most of the objects that have been scattered around the castle will sparkle and glisten, although there are a few exceptions. When you go into the hidden object puzzles proper, however, you'll be on your own.

Princess Isabella: A Witchs Curse Screenshot

Skull, documents, some sort of bean standing on a thimble.... Nope, nothing here.

Here, it's up to you to find a number of objects from a list the game provides. There'll be a pretty varied selection for you to hunt down, but it's always fairly obvious what the game wants you to look for - which is something of a rarity for games like this, which have obviously been translated from another language. Alternatively, some of the hidden object challenges have you looking for a certain type of object - usually under the heading "evil objects", where you'll be tracking down skulls, scary looking faces, and, er, snakes.

The only problem - and in fact, it's a problem that underlies most of the game - is that the whole thing feels more than a little bit ropey around the edges. And while the grainy graphics wouldn't usually effect our enjoyment of any other game, in a hidden object game, the visuals are of the utmost importance, as it dictates how well you can do the puzzles. While it never gets so bad as to render the game unplayable, the lack of contrast between items and the background, and the general blurriness of certain objects does make things a lot harder than it really should be, especially when you're hunting for objects around the castle generally. While it never causes too many problems during the hidden object sections, it can certainly cause plenty of headaches during the normal game, as you'll often simply not be able to see an object you need - like a mirror fragment - due to how well it blends in. Thanks to the genuine lack of visual clarity, there's even an easy way to tell what objects are ones you can click on, and which are part of the background - but we'll leave that for you to work out!

Disappointingly, it's not just the graphics that seem a bit unpolished. The music, too, often seems to break and skip a bit in places - which doesn't really make much sense, seeing as it's being read from a cartridge, not a CD. Worse still, however, is that we actually managed to break the game, which in turn forced us to restart. While the game assured us we'd found all ten of the mirror pieces we needed to assemble the chef, when we came to put him back together, we found we only had nine - and no amount of scouring the other rooms would help us. 

Princess Isabella: A Witchs Curse Screenshot

It's-a not-a Bert, Isabella!

Because of this glitch, it's rather hard for us to give a score to Princess Isabella. We had to restart our game in order to get past it (the game autosaves, so there's no chance to load an earlier save, from before it managed to break itself), which, needless to say, we really shouldn't have to. On our second play through, however, the game worked fine - but although it may have been a one off, we thought it was important enough to mention in the review, as we can't for sure say it won't happen to you too.

But while it's rough around the edges, Princess Isabella is still a good game - it's just a shame that a bit more time and attention weren't lavished upon it. If you've already played the PC version, you may want to stick with that, as for over twice the asking price (around £20 on the DS), there's nothing here that you haven't already done - and for a game that can be completed within three or four hours, it seems like a pretty hefty asking price. For anyone with an insatiable hunger for finding some objects, however, it's worth at least a look - and we hope it doesn't jam up for you!

Format Reviewed: Nintendo DS

StarStarStarHalf starEmpty star
The young princess could have used some more training.
  • +
    Great mix of logical puzzles, and hidden object games.
  • +
    Never feels too repetitive
  • +
    The helpful fairy friend, who'll point you in the right direction in the hidden object games
  • -
    The game breaking glitch
  • -
    Poorly presented
  • -
    A bit on the short side
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