There was a period in the '90s when finding hidden objects on a page seemed like a great idea for a book. Where's Waldo, I SPY ,and even Magic Eye were just some of the notable books that came out that didn't require a lot of reading--if any. I SPY--the children's book series written by Jean Marzollo--however, was known for having detailed photographs taken by Walter Wick, as well as riddles, to get the reader to search for particular items instead of just looking for a man in a red-and-white shirt. Now, developer Gusto and publisher Elastic have teamed up to bring the seek-and-find gameplay to Ultimate I SPY for the Nintendo Wii.
Ultimate I SPY begins in a room with a mysterious machine where you need to use the Wii Remote to crank the handle before you can get started. When the buttons light up on the machine, you can click on them to go to a new environment where you will be presented with a riddle and objects to find. When you find what the riddle is asking for, it'll get highlighted so that you can keep track. Some parts of the riddle are actually minigames, so you'll have to play them in order to complete the riddle. Objects are strewn about (or meticulously placed depending on how you look at it) in different environments with their own themes. Using the Nunchuk, you can zoom in and move around the area, but it will depend on which environment you're in because you don't have free reign over the camera. Sometimes you'll only be able to move up and down the screen or along a set track, but from what we've played so far, the angles that you have access to will allow you to see the objects you are trying to find.
There are four riddles to complete in each of the 10 education-themed areas for a total of 40 riddles. The goal is to try to open a machine by solving the riddles. When you start to unlock minigames throughout the game, 10 of them will end up in the game room where you can access them from the machine menu. There are multiplayer options for these games, so you and a friend can play against each other. Some games include throwing darts, racing fish, juggling, and playing paddleball. There is also a scavenger hunt game where you are given a riddle and need to find the object to which it refers.
Depending on how keen your eyes are at picking out random objects that blend into the background, locating hidden objects can be tricky, but it can still be fun. The minigames vary from being very basic to a little more involved. For example, you might waggle your Wii Remote at a bird or have to swing the remote at the right beat or race through an aquarium as a fish while dodging bubbles and collecting hamburgers.
The build we played was still an unfinished one, so we hope to see some of the controls tighten up a bit, especially when it comes to the maze minigame where you tilt the puzzle to get the marble from one end of the maze to the other. The final game also has some intense Wii Remote motions going on, so the controls will need to be more responsive. The varied environments are reminiscent of school and all the different subjects associated with it. You have one area where it feels like a science lab and then another that feels like a music classroom. It seems like it would be a fun game for kids who enjoy the seek-and-find type of gameplay. Visually however, the Wii graphics can't compare to the photographs taken by Wick in the books, but if you're having trouble figuring out what an object is, you can zoom in close enough to see the details of that object.
Ultimate I SPY is obviously aimed at a younger audience who enjoys the books or has played previous Scholastic I SPY games. This game is set to ship in October exclusively on the Wii.