Pictureka! delivers lackluster puzzles for price

Spoiler alert! Pictureka! for iPad cashes in on the popular games requiring players to locate specific pictures from a background of noise, in this case more pictures. If you’ve never played this kid of game before, you might find it fun. But you will probably like other games better.

I downloaded Pictureka! for iPad when it first came out because it sounded interesting, because I like the genre, and because Electronic Arts has the resources to produce some slick games. I played it long enough to realize I liked it even less than Little Things which I reviewed last August, and not favorably. It cost me five dollars because EA was never going to comp me a download code to review one of their games, and that made it even worse.

I put the review on the back burner and even considered blowing it off until I visited my sister Aimee at Christmas. She was enjoying her brand new iPad when she saw a promotion advertising all EA iPad games for a dollar.

I told her not to bother with Pictureka! for iPad, and I pretty much told her everything I’m about to tell you. But I’m a big brother, and what do big brothers know anyway? So she downloaded it, and about five minutes later she started complaining about all of the things I told her to expect.

I don’t know if she’s still playing but the price is back to five dollars, and as far as I can tell it hasn’t improved. If Aimee was that unhappy with a dollar game, I can’t imagine you’re going to be any happier shelling out five times that much.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a slick and well-designed game. The designers knew exactly what to do to make it look good.

The object of the game is to find specific pictures from different lists provided by the game. The pictures are pretty much the same colors and easily mixed up against the blue background. To add to your frustration, while you’re working on one challenge the game will present additional challenges.

You have to pick a list of related items from a cluster of objects that all look similar. In this case you have to find three objects that the game thinks involve hair.

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You can play in adventure mode or against other up to three other players, including an artificial intelligence (AI), who may or may not be up to the challenge. In adventure mode, as with many games, you progress through increasingly difficult levels.

In adventure mode you progress from island to island, facing more difficult challenges with each stop on each island.

Click image to see full size

The player versus player game adds a number of wrinkles to the challenge. Not only can both of you match skills with an additional AI player, you are often asked to bid on how many objects you think you can find on a search or challenged to see who can find an object more quickly. The time limit expires quickly, making the game exceptionally challenging.

In challenge mode, both players may be asked to find the same object in the shortest amount of time.

Click image to see full size

If you like difficult games, this game rises to the challenge because it is difficult to play at every level. Adventure mode is particularly challenging, or frustrating, because you can’t save levels. You can get all the way to the final island and if you can’t finish one of the stops, you’re shuffled back the beginning of the game.

And this is where I have to admit I’m not sure if winning the game involves learning difficult challenges or learning to memorize the objects the game equates with certain words. In fact, the game is most of all a semantic challenge. You may be asked to find five objects in space only to discover a rocket or Saturn don’t count. You may be asked to find three hairs, only to be told that one face with a beard qualifies but a different face with a beard doesn’t. Or a dog counts in the hair category but a bear doesn’t.

In the player challenge, finding an object more quickly often boils down to where the object is placed in the picture. If the object is placed toward the left border, the player is far more likely to spot it than if it is placed at the far right, requiring you to scroll the screen with your finger.

You can engage up to four players, or throw in an AI character if you need an extra player.

Click image to see full size

Similar games recognize the possibility that players might experience frustration and compensate by offering hints, or multiple levels of difficulty. As much as I disliked Little Things, I had to admit their hinting system was one of the best I’d seen. The screen gradually zoomed in on the object until time ran out.

Pictureka! for iPad is one of those games you would like to like. When you play it (or at least when I do), you can’t help but thinking you should like it. And you may actually like it. But I can’t help but feeling most players will be short changed.

If I were to pull the game out it might be for a family game night because it could be fun to hear your family swear, or find creative ways to avoid swearing, when they click on a burning match and discover it’s not an example of “fire.”

Jenny Manytoes rates Pictureka! for iPad

Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to Pictureka! for iPad. It’s slick, but more frustrating than an iPad game needs to be.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 3 Stars - nap, Games, Puzzle Games and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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