If you're a fan of point and click, or hidden object games, the name Mystery Case Files may mean a lot to you. Even if it doesn't, all you need to know is that these games are rather revered amongst their players as some of the best hidden object games ever made. With a heavy emphasis on storyline and characters, over 100 million people have sampled the trials of the Mystery Case Files games - which is why the series debut on the Wii is such a big deal.
Far from simply being a Wii version of an existing game, Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident is an entirely new title. The game takes place on Malgrave Island, a mytserious outcrop of land, thought vacant for many years. Summoned to the island by Winston Malgrave, the island's eccentric curator, you're asked to help locate, and collect, a dust-like substance which can be found in specific places on the island - only this is no normal powder. Winston's wife, Sarah, is terminally ill, and he believes only this powder has the power to cure her. As you may imagine, all is likely not as it seems, and the further you delve into the mysteries of the island, the more mysterious it becomes.
With a range of changes made to take advantage of the Wii, Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident is a much more impressive game than the others in the series. Rather than exploring a selection of mostly static, hand-drawn 2D backgrounds, you'll be free to explore a fully 3D Malgrave Island, moving around by clicking on arrows with the Wii Remote, as you hunt for clues, and examine objects from all angles, adding an extra "dimension" (ho, ho, ho) to the puzzles. But as well as having to work out which items you use where around mysterious Malgrave, there'll be plenty of other, more traditional puzzles to solve too, outside of the hidden object stages - like the tile switching puzzle shown in a recent trailer (which you can view below), which we still can't figure out.
When you do get to the hidden object stages, these too have a rather unique twist, as rather than being flat, the puzzles now have layers. Far from the static pictures of most games, in the Malgrave Incident, the hidden object stages are split into three layers, giving an effect of depth that's not too dissimilar to that seen in one of those 3D pop-up Christmas cards. By moving your cursor to the edge of the screen, you'll be able to move up and down, and by doing so, thanks to the laws of parallax, you'll be able to see objects that are hidden behind the layers in the foreground, adding an intriguing new slant to the hidden object genre - and one that's bound to make it more difficult too. Now, no longer is it enough to just search the entire scene - you'll have to move your viewpoint to view it from all angles.
In another unique twist for the Wii version, you'll be able to play through the whole puzzle solving adventure with up to three firends, in full four player co-op. Sharing some of the brain teasing load certainly sounds like a good idea to us - and extra pair of eyes has never hurt before. When you've finishe the story, there's still plenty left to do, too, with the game's competitive, four player multiplayer mode letting you race to hunt down the items before your friends.
It all sounds very impressive, and luckily, we shouldn't have too long left before we can get our hands on it. With an appealing mix of Professor Layton style brain teasers, and the addictive observational tests of hidden object games, Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident is one we're eagerly awaiting getting the chance to review. The game launches on the 9th September in the UK and Europe - but it'll be available across the pond in the US from the 26th June. It's one of those times we wish our Wiis were region free. We want this now.
All we can do in the mean time is to mark the date down on our calendar, and start counting down the days. Feel free to check out the trailer below to whet your appetite even further.