When Anna decided to follow her step-brother William on his quest to solve the ancient riddle of Queen Nefertiti, it nearly got her killed. Now, with William lost under a pile of stone and rubble, Anna has more questions than answers. She decides to start asking those questions of Professor Cullen, who is currently supervising a dig in Egypt. But as helpful as the professor seems, it soon becomes clear that he is intent on stopping Anna from finding any real answers to her questions. Undeterred, you continue your quest, finding yourself in Venice and Egypt, in libraries and museums, all the way meeting a variety of characters who seem to be out to keep you from finding out the truth. You soon stumble onto the real secret: the French general Napoleon was also on the trail of Nefertiti hundreds of years earlier, also trying to solve the mystery of her disappearance. What was Napoleon after? Why would he have taken on this decidedly non-military journey? Those answers, and many more, will soon become clear.
Curse of the Pharaoh 2: Napoleon's Secret, like its predecessor Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti, is a hidden-object title with added puzzle elements, such as spot-the-difference games. The first presents you with a scene on one side of the screen, and an almost-identical copy on the other side of the screen. A number of differences have been scattered about the scenes, from objects missing from one of the scenes, to objects being different colors or orientations. The other hidden-object scenes involve locating a laundry list of random items scattered about the picture. These usually involved a number of single items and at least two or three groups of items, be they forks or cups or hats.
In each scene, there are a number of common objects to be located, as well. There are three Egyptian coins in each of the levels that you must locate. Collecting these coins will allow you to purchase different helps to get you through the game. The other objects to be located in each scene are pieces of a pharaoh's mask. Only by completing the pharaoh's mask can you complete the area and move on to the next location.
The various helps that can be purchased with the coins you find can be invaluable in your quest. The first item to purchase is the double-pointer. This will provide a pointer that mirrors your location on each side of the spot-the-difference scenes, making it much easier to locate differences. You can also purchase hints, something that will turn mirrored spot-the-difference scenes into standard spot-the-difference scenes, and items that will help you with fire and water scenes. These scenes are locations that will either slowly start to burn or fill up with water as you are locating the items you need to find. The fire extinguisher will allow you to fight the flames and the oxygen tank will allow you to turn back the water filing the level, each allowing you more time to locate objects.
There are also items specific to your quest that must be located in each of the scenes. These are denoted by the silhouettes in the four spots at the bottom of the screen. These items will either help you to complete one of the scenes at a particular location, or will figure into the puzzle at the end of each location. Once you get further into the game, these objects will have to be taken from scene to scene to complete each scene. A statue found in the first scene may actually be needed to complete the fifth scene, while a piece of stone needed to complete scene 2 may not be found until you play the sixth scene.
Once you complete all six scenes in a location, you will be faced with a puzzle that you must solve to progress to the next location. The puzzles are all logic-based puzzles, getting progressively harder as you progress through the game. Once you complete the puzzle, you are then granted access to the six scenes in the next location.
Analysis: Curse of the Pharaoh 2 is quite a lot of fun. The story is interesting and fun to follow, even if the locations don't always entirely make sense. Like most hidden-object games, the items that you are forced to locate in each scene have little to nothing to do with the game, and are quite often completely random (staplers and tape dispensers in the hall of an altar?). For what it's worth, it is an accepted convention of the genre, but I always appreciate it when developers try to break out of those conventions. The locating of the different specific objects for each scene and the puzzle at the end of each round helps to alleviate the randomness of the other objects, but it will always seem odd locating writing pens along the canals of Venice.
As interesting and varied as the scenes are, they are really quite easy when compared to other games of the genre. While this makes Curse of the Pharaoh 2 an excellent game for players new to hidden-object games, veterans will make quick work of the game. The story is interesting enough to keep most gamers involved in the game for the duration, though.
The voice acting, though, is enough to make you turn the sound down. It is truly dreadful, like every bad accent that you have ever heard or done yourself thrown into the game with a bunch of recycled phrases that get repeated at you ad-nauseam. Luckily, this only happens during the first scene in any location, but even that is really too much. I think the story would have been better served by a text interchange between characters before each round; certainly our ears would have. The music, I fear, isn't much better. It seemed fine at first, but once you find out just how short each musical selection is, you will soon realize just how many times the music will repeat as you attempt to locate objects in the scene. Luckily, both of these minor annoyances can be dealt with in the same manner: turn the volumes down.
Do you have what it takes to follow the trail and learn Napoleon's Secret? If so, then take Curse of the Pharaoh 2 for a spin and settle in for some hidden-object fun. While it may be a bit on the easy side, the story will keep you going until the end of the game. Gather your pens and staplers and get to work!