Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey
Developer:Classic Media Distribution
Release Date:December 09, 2009
Summary:Excellent adaptation of the Where's Waldo? book series from a hunting adventure to one of a game.
Once upon a time, a young man named Waldo took the first steps toward a great adventure…
For anyone who enjoyed the Where’s Waldo? book series, be sure to check out the new Where’s Waldo? iPhone app by Classic Media. Not only is it just as good as the books, it offers some interesting new quirks and gets you more involved in the storyline. With the books, it was always easy to skip the reading and just scan the giant pages for Waldo, and once finished, the many other characters and objects as detailed in those per page lists in the back of the book. I remember after finding all the Waldos, I would just enjoy examining each page, each of which belied the multifaceted humor of the illustrator, with sharks eating bald men, their eyes bulging in shock, or mud men slinging pieces of themselves at knights whose horses willingly gave them up only to have a tree scare them off with its menacing stare. The artwork is clever and complex, and after many examinations, you’ll probably still find new curiosities. The third book, The Fantastic Journey (from which this game is based) includes a bunch of hidden mini-waldos, kid fans dressed in Waldo’s likeness who tag along for the entire journey. Also, for each level, you’ll notice citizens of previous worlds loitering around, with no reason other than to add to the amusing spectacle of it all. The world of Waldo is so highly imaginative, so detailed, like a kid’s version of Canaletto, that I hold it in high regard, definitely in a much higher regard than any other clue-riddled, searching book (ISpy comes to mind).
The iPhone app version introduces you to Waldo, in a brief interlude, and quickly teaches you how to play the game with the first world, The Gobbling Gluttons. In that level you are introduced to your comrades: Wizard Whitebeard, Wanda, and Woof, your helpful doggy companion who’ll sniff out the locations of items you can’t find. These three accompany you on your journey to all the different worlds, which include along with the The Gobbling Gluttons, The Battling Monks, The Carpet Flyers, The Great Ball-Game Players, The Ferocious Red Dwarves, The Nasty Nasties, The Fighting Forester, The Deep-Sea Divers, The Knights of the Magic Flag, The Unfriendly Giants, The Underground Hunters, and The Land of Wallys. Each world is an exact replica of the world as depicted in the book series, only this time around, some elements aren’t as static: should you not earn enough stars to proceed to the next level (a minimum of three stars lets you pass – these count down for however long you spend searching for items and characters), then you must redo the level, only this time around, Wizard Whitebeard, Wanda and Waldo are in different spots. In addition, for each level you must find the scroll, and you must search for the hidden items as directed by your search bar, at the bottom of the screen. These can earn you extra points if you didn’t rack up enough stars searching for the main characters, and they’re fun! As I said before, with the book, it’s all too easy to overlook these bonus challenges – in the iPhone version, it’s mandatory.
Quirky and mischievous music peppers the game and each level is introduced with a brief, narrative vignette by one of the characters, all of which keeps you in the mood for adventuring. When your arch nemesis Odlaw is introduced (I’m sure you clever ones out there surmised that Odlaw is Waldo spelled backward – how evil!), your searching is interrupted occasionally by his mischievous and crafty schemes, the exploits of which usually entail dumping jungle animals in these foreign lands. Waldo, ever the intrepid anthropologist, could never let Odlaw get away with something so devastating as the introducing of invasive species, so it’s up to you to clean up the mess quickly, while saving enough time for you to finish your own priorities. Wanda, too, will expand upon a level before you proceed, by having you search for the locations of photos she took. She’s quite the photojournalist, curating both written and photographic entries of your entire adventure, and every now and then she likes you to acknowledge her efforts by sorting through them. Quite the pair, these two are, with matching red and white garb, no less.
The one small quarrel I have with Where’s Waldo is an unavoidable technical compromise – the iPhone screen is much, much smaller than the usually expansive Where’s Waldo? books, and so searching for the various characters and items can be a little difficult when pushing the screen around, your finger occasionally obscuring your view. But, actually, it could also be a bit easier. A small diagram of the entire map appears in the upper right when you scroll around, and using this as a guide, it’s fairly easy to chart out a course with your rectangular, iPhone sized view, bit by bit. Or, in the case of searching for bonus items or scrolls, the game allots you only a section of the map to examine, significantly narrowing your margin of discovery. This bugged me a little, as it makes for a much easier game – not to mention the one or two hints Woof will give you per level – but this way it may appeal to a broader spectrum of age, where even little tykes can participate in the hunt without feeling overwhelmed.
The Where’s Waldo book series are a classic, forever magical and probing the imagination. It’s good to see the series is being revived again for a whole new generation.