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ATPM 17.05
May 2011


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Software Review

by Linus Ly,

Escape Rosecliff Island HD


Function: Hidden object game adapted for the iPad.

Developer: PopCap Games

Price: $3

Requirements: iOS 3.2.

Trial: None.

I am one of those parents who use their children to somewhat have a second childhood. While my son enjoyed playing “I Spy” games on the Mac before, by the time I got the iPad last year, 10-year-old Justin was not that interested in the Waldo game and others in the genre. Yet when PopCap had a fundraising weekend for Japan, I quickly bought Escape Rosecliff Island HD.

Your Almost-Typical Hidden Object Game

The background story of the game is that you’ve survived a shipwreck and now find yourself on a deserted island. In an abandoned mansion on the island, you find hidden objects and proceed to collect items to help you escape the island.

There are many levels to work through to complete the game. Each level has five scenes, and each scene has ten objects to find. Hints are available, but you lose points and hints build up slowly. If you wish, you can enable unlimited hints. Likewise, although you are allowed limited time to complete each level, you can choose the Relaxed mode to play the game with no time limit.


A typical scene with time limit, as shown in the upper right of the screen.

As you finish each level, you have to solve a puzzle before you can move to the next level. The extra puzzles can involve matching tiles, assembling pieces, aligning pieces, etc. As a reward for solving a mini-puzzle, you earn a piece of survival gear, such as a flare gun or a life jacket. I haven’t completed the game, but I’m sure I’ll need these bonus items in one final challenge.


Some mini-puzzles.


A bonus prize.

If matching tiles is your preferred game, you will be glad to know that as you find objects and earn enough points, you unlock the Match 3 Bonus Game. Any time you want to get away from the main game, choose the Bonus Game from the main menu. Likewise, if finding ten objects per scene does not whet your appetite, just find all 50 locks as you locate the regular objects. With the Unlimited Seek mode unlocked, you can play the same familiar scenes, but now there are 70 or more objects per scene.


The main menu with the extras unlocked.


Unlimited Seek & Find mode pleases the hard-core “I Spy” player.

The Rosecliff Difference

The market for hidden object games on the iPad is crowded. Even though my iPad has fewer such games when compared with my MacBook Pro, the iPad still has about five or six games. A mix of paid and free games, they make a good sample of the genre.

Long-time fans of the “I Spy” game genre know that a game’s difficulty lies in how the objects are placed and how the clues are provided. Objects of similar colors are grouped together, with the smaller objects in the foreground. A long object is usually aligned with the length of a larger object, such as a baseball bat lying on the edge of a table. Rosecliff uses both hiding techniques and then some.

One way objects are made harder to find is by making them larger than life, literally, like the screwdriver in the barn (see the first picture below). Another twist (pun intended) Rosecliff adds to the game is having misshaped objects. In the second picture below, can you find the curved wrench in the center, near the teddy bear and boomerang? I am not a handyman, and all my wrenches are straight. A Google search for “curved wrenches” actually produces a list of such tools, but prior to playing Rosecliff I didn’t know that the things existed. That in itself makes for a more challenging search.


It may sound inconceivable, but finding a common object is actually harder when it’s larger than its supposed size.


The curved wrench exists but is not that commonly found, except in Escape Rosecliff Island.

While Rosecliff adds only a few new tricks in hiding the objects, it really runs away with the clues. Whereas other games usually just list the objects by their names, Rosecliff always has a few of the ten items hinted at. Instead of “squirrel” you would be told to find a “nut gatherer.” Likewise, the clue “Has 9 lives” is an alternate way of telling you to find a cat.

What I really like are the clues that pair up with an activity in the scene. One example is “Frame the Painting” (see the picture below). Not only do you need to find the painting (in the upper right corner), but you must then drag it onto the frame in the center of the picture. While not entirely original—as I do recall some of the original computerized “I Spy” games making use of such techniques—the extra work provides a little more challenge beyond clicking only.


Clearing an item sometimes requires more than clicking it.

As a punster, my favorite clues are those that involve popular phrases. For example, in the picture you would see something like “me repeat” and the clue would be “repeat after me.” Or if the clue is “falling asleep,” you would have to find the word “asleep” written vertically.

Some games, whether for iOS devices or the Mac, try to make the most of screen estate by having zooming and panning. I’m glad Rosecliff is not one of those games. Though novel at first, zooming and panning eventually just introduce dizziness. The HD version, made for the iPad, makes good use of the screen without the need to zoom.


I like Escape Rosecliff Island HD mostly for its generous difficulty levels. You can play it with no time limit and unlimited hints, or you can bang your head and pop your eyes out playing the most difficult settings. I’ve already paid for it, so I should be able to choose to relax or be challenged playing the game. The Match 3 Bonus game and the mini-games provide some variations from the genre, while the Unlimited Seek & Find mode keeps the hard-core player busy. Lastly, while objects in Rosecliff are not hidden too differently compared with other games, the clues are very cleverly provided. Escape Rosecliff Island HD is a Very Nice game to have if you like the “I Spy” genre.

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