Cate West - The Vanishing files is a popular PC hidden object game transfered over to the Nintendo DS. The game will appeal to fans of puzzle games such as Professor Layton and Mystery Case Files, but just doesn't have the longevity or gameplay to compete. However if you can pick this one up cheaply enough then it is still worth a look.
Cate is a mystery novelists with Psychic abilities. She is recruited by the police to work on The Vanishing Files, a collection of cases that they have been unable to solve. There are 15 levels to the game split up into 5 sections. You play the first 4 sections as Cate, and the fifth one as her police colleague Ben. Each level is timed, and you get penalised by 30 seconds if you make too many random clicks - i.e. just trying to guess where the items are by franticly clicking anywhere.
1 - Hidden object. This is a classic hidden object level, with 10 objects to find per location. The number of locations and total of items to find to complete the level increases as the game goes on.
2 - Spot the difference. The screen is split into two with small differences between the two scenes. You can tap the difference on either side of the picture.
3 - Find the Evidence. Cate uses her psychic ability to determine what items found previously are connected to the criminal. These items, such as a shoe or a gun, are the divided into pieces, and you need to find these pieces in the scenes. Similar to level one, but you have a list of pictures to find rather than words.
4 - Find the Criminal. Cate examines the evidence and retrieves information about the owner - like they have dark hair. You are given pictures and descriptions of eight suspects and you have to use Cate's details to decide who the criminal is.
5 - Recreate the Crime Scene. Ben has t recreate the crime scene to get a conviction. Again the scene is split into two, and items are missing from one or other of the scenes. You need to drag the item from the list at the bottom of the screen and place it back in the scene.
I am terrible for getting started on a game without reading the instructions and when I first started playing I thought it was impossible to locate any of the missing objects, but then I realised that there was a magnifying glass that zomes in the picture on the bottom screen, while keeping the full size scene on the top screen - that made things much easy to find!! There is also an eye icon which you can press and it will find an item for you, although this will decrease the amount of points you get at the end of the level.
Although the idea behind this game is simple it is strangely addictive. The format does not change throughout the game and that can be a bit repetitive, as can the fact that the same locations are used throughout, so if you are particularly eagle eyed you may remember where some of the objects are - this was not something that affected me LOL!
When I got my laptop a year ago I started to use it for gaming, and have downloaded quite a few hidden object games. If you have never played one, a hidden object game is where you get a detailed scene on the screen, and a list of items to find within that picture - kind of a Where's Wally for the computer generation!! Recently I have started to notice these games more and more on the Nintendo DS, and having borrowed my sisters Mystery Case Files game and quite enjoying it, I got Cate West: The Vanishing Files for Christmas.