Spot the Differences! Review – Picture Imperfect

spot-the-differences-5Firstly, it has to be said that it’s not entirely Spot the Differences! fault that it was the only mini in the whole wide world released this week, hence the collective disappointed groan from those of us who were hoping for a few more games and maybe something a little more on the interesting side even?

That’s not to say that somewhere out there a PSP-owning Spot the Difference fiend is in a state of total delirium right now, but the rest of us can be forgiven for feeling a little underwhelmed.

My heart did sink a little as I loaded the game up, I have to confess. Something about Spot the Difference games reminds me of the puzzle pages in the back of boring magazines that you read in the dentist’s waiting room.

Even so, it’s only fair to give Spot the Differences! every chance: there really have been very few duds among all the minis released so far, so the odds were high that Spot the Differences! could pull a shock result out of the bag. In the end that sadly didn’t happen.

If you’re thinking that there must be more to the gameplay than simply comparing two photos and spotting the differences, well sadly, there doesn’t appear to be! There are a couple of different modes that determine how many spots you have to make, or how the pictures you see are generated, but essentially, what you see is what you get.

spot-the-differences-1As far as the gameplay mechanics go, it’s all very simple. From the main menu you can choose either Arcade or Custom mode. In Arcade mode there are four difficulty settings: Rookie, Amateur, Connoisseur and Expert, although Rookie is the only one that’s unlocked from the start. However, I’m not sure how many people will actually be able to stick with the game long enough to move up even as far as Amateur.

To get cracking with your spotting, simply select Arcade and you’ll be presented with the first two side-by-side pictures in a matter of seconds. The pictures are randomly generated from themes such as Pets and Sport.

Underneath the pictures you’ll see a trophy on the left next to your current score, and on the right a timer in the form of a green bar. When it reaches the end and turns orange, you’ve run out of time and it’s Game Over. In Rookie mode you have just 90 seconds to find all five differences, which isn’t much time at all. Simply keep finding all the differences in each picture to rack up points and eventually unlock the next level. And that’s about all there is to it.

You move around the photos using either the d-pad or the analog stick, and select the ‘difference’, by pressing X. If you get it right you will see a red ring appear, if not you’ll see a red cross and hear a buzzer. One thing that the game sorely needs is a zoom mode, as some of the details in the photos are so tiny they’re very difficult to see!

spot-the-differences-4As you make your way through the photos the gameplay feels more irritating than compelling: you start to think, life is too short to be spending time counting the wrinkles on a pug’s face! After peering intently at two beach hut pictures and trying to count precisely how many fronds there were on each palm tree, I found that I didn’t really care enough to want to see the next photo. And it also has to be said that although the photos are generated randomly, you will start to see repeats fairly early on.

The difficulty setting also seems to be a little bit erratic. Some of the pictures are very easy and some are really difficult, even on Rookie. For example, try spotting the differences between hundreds of different coloured jelly beans! Headache central!

In Custom Game there are two modes: Time Attack and Select Scenes, which is initially locked. In Time Attack you have three minutes to find as many differences as you can, one difference at a time per photo. This part is actually quite fun, because of its rapid-fire nature. Select Scenes mode simply means that you choose which pictures you want to play with.

Overall, this is a very disappointing mini. It probably works great as a Flash game for filling in a couple of minutes at work, and there are bound to be some people who enjoy this type of game who will like it as a mini, but it just seems such a waste of the PSP’s processing power compared to the likes of Red Bull X- Fighters, Zombie Tycoon, Fieldrunners and Mahjongg Artefacts 2.  It’s not the worst game ever, but there are much better minis available to spend your money on.

Score: 4/10

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5 Responses to “Spot the Differences! Review – Picture Imperfect”
  1. JeremyR says:

    I think it’s a niche product. Some people, like my mother, absolutely love these games. I used to have to search around bookstores to find books of these for her.

    On the other hand, she really only liked the hand drawn ones. These (and some in books) seem to use real photos but photoshopped.

  2. Chris says:

    You are right, its a niche product that will definitely appeal to it’s target audience. Similar to the hidden object games.

    If this kind of game is your thing then who knows it might be one of the best available in its niche.

  3. As the developer/publisher of this game, I can only agree with the two above comments: YES, there is a market for this game, and it is the best one in its category.

    The iPhone version of “Spot The Differences!” is presently #1 top-selling iPhone game in Italy! Its average user rating is 4.5 / 5, and ALL comments are positive – we have yet to see a single negative user comment.

    It’s really a matter of taste. While some players find that “life is too short to be spending time counting the wrinkles on a pug’s face”, others would tell you that “life is too short to spend energy learning a complex set of game rules and going through a tough difficulty curve, especially when the acquired skill is of no use in the real world”. These players rather go for games that provide immediate accessibility and satisfaction for short gameplay sessions. That’s what we aim at providing them.

  4. Count says:

    Argh, when is the US version gonna come out…

  5. >> Argh, when is the US version gonna come out…

    It is presently in review by SCEA. The approval process should hopefully not take too long. We keep fingers crossed!

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