Antiques Roadshow, drawing inspiration from the television show of the same name, is the story of Julia, a young woman who is such a fan of the show it inspires her to apply for a job at a local antiques shop. Turns out Julia is in for more adventure than she thought, as the owner of the shop sends her across the United States searching for clues to unravel the mystery of an old decoder ring that's been in his family for years. It's a challenging hidden object game that's certain to please fans of the show and casual hidden object fans alike.
Antiques Roadshow follows a simple format that will be familiar to anyone who's touched a hidden object game in the last few years. Mr. Hinton, Julia's boss, gets news of antiques that could have a connection to his family heirloom and sends Julia on her way. You get to stamp your plane ticket, which is a gratuitous but fun inclusion, and then you're staring at barns, crowded shop rooms, train stations, and other areas completely packed with, well, junk. Time to look for those valuables!
Pecking away at your list for each scene, you'll occasionally come across useful items that will give you access to other parts of the game. Finding these is inevitable, and you can't move on without them, so everything sort of takes care of itself, no puzzle solving required. You'll also find the odd valuable object that can be cleaned up via mini-game after the level ends. Once it's presentable, Julia will take the item to the show and it will be evaluated just like on TV, giving a bit of history and the current value of each object. The fan service doesn't hurt, either!
There's no timer to worry about in Antiques Roadshow, and you're not limited on how many hints you can use, either. Too many mis-clicks results in an unusual but fitting punishment: a cloud of dust invades the room. You have to wipe it away with your cloth before you can proceed, which is exactly what would happen if you kept nosing around a dusty storeroom.
Analysis: If you're a fan of the Antiques Roadshow program, you've probably already started your download. The game pays tribute to the show in several ways, and the crossover is sure to please a lot of people. In the gameplay department, Antiques Roadshow doesn't take any chances and provides a straightforward hidden object experience with very few diversions. No real puzzle solving to be had, just sifting through storerooms looking for antique items. You can almost smell the musty air!
Finding items on your list can be quite a challenge. Antiques Roadshow usually manages to avoid the "make it a ridiculous size and camouflage it in the foreground" trap many hidden object titles fall prey to, but it keeps the challenge level high by scooting items behind pieces of scenery, often making them extremely difficult to spot. Your hint meter is more than generous, though, and is eager to help you out of a tight spot. And you'll be in those spots several times per level.
The mini-games in Antiques Roadshow are "blah" at best. Sifting through buttons may be some folks' idea of fun in real life, but in a video game? No thanks. A "skip" button is mercifully provided for each game, and you'll be reaching for it on several occasions.
Antiques Roadshow provides a solid no-frills hidden object experience. It's a great looking game with items hidden in challenging places, and if you've got even the slightest interest in antiques or the television show, you'll have even more fun searching for valuables in this release!