I am an absolute chump for thrift stores, op shops, yard sales, swap meets and real open-air markets (not the ones where you get charged 200% extra for the privilege of buying cinnamon-and-myrrh scented soap in the open air instead of a shop, the ones where gnarly old Lithuanians sell battered Dr. Ock figurines, ice skates and lemons from the home tree for only 50c per bag). So playing Fabulous Finds isn't so much gameplay for me as a continuation of real life. The only way gameplay could be more realistic is if someone made a game where you have to correct budget papers in order to have them signed off by your manager by 4pm. (Hmmm...)
The premise of the time management/hidden object game Fabulous Finds is that your eccentric old Aunt from Carmel, California (most famous to me as the town where Clint Eastwood was Mayor for a time) died and left you her house with all her crap, er, priceless treasures in it. You're stuck with the property taxes, so you'll need to have a garage sale!
Firstly, you've gotta find all this stuff. The first puzzle is a hidden object exercise — find everything in the room that fits a particular theme. If the theme is, say, Fashion and Beauty, you might be called on to find a scarf, a mirror, or a hairdryer, which in turn will need a cord. You can use hints, but be careful — the hints you have are for the yard sale as well as the hidden object game.
The yard sale part of the game is tricky. Shoppers, distinguished by some item of clothing or feature, will enter your yard looking for something, and you'll get a hint as to what it is — "Snorkeler wants to breathe underwater". You identify Snorkeler as the gal who's wandering around your yard with a snorkel on her head, and if you found an aqualung (or another snorkel!) in your hidden-object search, it'll be in your yard somewhere. Give the customer what they want by picking them up and dropping them on top of the object. Once they've got what they want, they'll leave the yard to let other customers come in. Keep in mind that, although you may be able to see the hint for Snorkeler, they may not have entered the yard yet — you might need to sell to some other shoppers first.
The other major part of the game is decorating each room as it gets cleaned out. You'll be given a set of hints (such as "add a dash of green") and a Sims-style room where you can buy furniture and accessories with your yard sale earnings. You have a fair bit of choice over what you do (if you have the money, feel free to add some completely unnecessary plants and gewgaws), but you'll know when you've added the right objects because the star meter will fill up.
Analysis: This game isn't beautiful, but the range of gameplay it offers raises it well above more gorgeous games that you'll play once then abandon. Room decoration is a lot of fun, but what sold me on the game was how difficult the yard sale itself is. Snorkeler is at least fairly easy to identify — other shoppers are not so obviously distinguished (Surfer doesn't helpfully carry a board, and is hard to pick out from Sports Nut or 80s Wannabe), and what they want can become very, very obscure. Sometimes they need to complete a task before they can buy something, like finding their wallet (which is tiny and not obviously a wallet).
Once you've completed the game, you can redecorate the rooms any way you like, with three different options for the basement. The one way I would improve this game is to make the hidden object puzzles replayable with the option to choose a theme. The ability to keep redecorating is nice, but if you want to keep finding objects, you need to create a new profile and start a whole new game.
When I initially downloaded this game I was ready to not think much of it, but when the game suddenly ended its 60-minute trial, I was anxiously trying to find a baking implement for Jackie O, and I became most upset.