Mark & Mandi's Love Story
Want something charming that you'll play with a wry grin on your face? Mark & Mandi's Love Story is exactly that, packaging spot the difference puzzles, memory matching, jigsaw-style challenges and more with a great hand drawn art style that reminds me of Ice Cream Dee Lites. You play the role of Cupid's helper who is on a quest to sculpt Mark and Mandi's relationship to perfection. The story follows the young couple from the awkward dating stage to marriage and beyond, keeping a great sense of humor and light-hearted fun the whole way.
The game is divided into stages that chronicle major periods of Mark and Mandi's relationship. You begin with "Getting to Know You" where the young couple go on walks in the park, have picnics together, and learn the basics of each other's personality. You get to know them as well, and both are slightly... quirky. In a funny way, of course.
Spin the wheel to launch a random scene and the game begins. Each scene unfolds with a brief conversation between Mark and Mandi, then you'll start the spot the difference round. The faster and more accurate you find the differences, the more wish points you'll be rewarded. Wish points can be used to purchase additional items that will be hidden in each stage (such as a bird or a butterfly) for bonus points, or you can save up and unlock milestones that will eventually complete the stage.
After spot the difference ends you'll play another mini-game that could be matching pairs of cards or placing pieces of an image where it needs to go. Also, if the wheel lands on a red title you'll get double the wish points and can play my favorite mini-game where you find what's the same between two different pictures. That a way to shake things up a bit!
Analysis: Mark & Mandi's Love Story isn't one of those games that floors you from the get-go. Instead, and quite appropriately, you have to fall in love with it, spending well over an hour spotting differences and matching pieces of scenery before you're overtaken by its charm. The progression is slow, and new challenges as well as tougher stages aren't unlocked until you've worked your way through a good chunk of the game.
The difficulty of this casual game has been toned down considerably — it's aimed squarely at entertaining, not perplexing. The spot the difference puzzles are pretty straightforward, and you won't have to count tree limbs or measure the curve of a bush to complete puzzles. A special "hard" mode is available for some extra challenge, but even then you don't need to be an expert to make it through the game. It gets tougher after an hour or two of play, which, unfortunately, you won't experience during the demo.
The simplicity of Mark & Mandi's Love Story is charming, but a slight increase in the type of games would be of great benefit. Even just one addition would work wonders. The goal isn't to be a mini-game collection, of course, just kill any monotony before it rears its ugly head.
Built for charm and fun rather than challenge, Mark & Mandi's Love Story is a quirky puzzle game that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do!