The Mysterious Cities of Gold
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Nostalgia obviously plays a huge role when it comes to such a classic license, but this game is good enough to stand out on its own. The basic gameplay is engaging, but with a gentle difficulty curve that makes it suitable for younger players. Experienced players can aim for all the optional goals to up the challenge.

Gameplay: The puzzle solving provides a challenge for players of all ages.

Graphics: The visuals stay true to the animated series.

Sound: Authentic voice acting and catchy tunes

Summary 8.0 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

The Mysterious Cities of Gold

Developer: Neko Entertainment | Publisher: Neko Entertainment | Release Date: 2013 | Genre: Adventure / Casual / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

The original Mysterious Cities of Gold animated series ran in the early 1980s and followed the adventures of a young boy named Estaban and his two friends. The series mixed history with science fiction and built up quite a following amongst younger viewers. Now more than 30 years later the show has a second season and with it an official game.

The good news is that the developers are actually fans of the animated series so this isn’t just another half-baked cash in. Like many other fans, the show was an integral part of my childhood, although I only had a chance to view it in the early nineties. I wasn’t even aware that the show had been renewed for a new season until this game popped up on my radar, but the second I heard that iconic theme song I was drowning in nostalgia. Judging by the success of the kickstarter project to bring this game to PC with full English localization I would say that I’m not the only one eager to relive those childhood memories.

The game gives you direct control over Estaban, Zia and Tao as they explore levels and solve puzzles from a top down perspective. Each child has their own unique ability which means you have to constantly switch between characters to overcome the various obstacles. Esteban has the ability to bring out the sun, which is useful for activating special pillars while Tao can translate the ancient language of his people for puzzle hints. His parrot is also adept at pilfering keys from guards while Zia is petite enough to squeeze through cracks into areas inaccessible to other characters. None of the children are skilled at combat, so stealthily sneaking past enemies or hiding in pots and barrels is your only defense.

The levels in the game are quite large and filled with puzzles that have to be solved. The puzzles mostly involve pressure plates, levers, switches and keys that open doors to new areas. You’ll also encounter colored dragon statues that have to be placed on the correct pedestals to unlock gates. You can use the camera button to scroll around the level which is vital for pinpointing which character to send in what direction. Unfortunately, there is no way to zoom out which is a function that would have come in really handy. Levels are usually filled with guards that patrol important areas and you have to avoid their line of sight or you will get caught. Footsteps indicate the patrol routes of guards and you usually have a second or two to get away if spotted, but even capture only means that you are sent back to the nearest checkpoint. This means that the frustration factor is quite low and even younger players can enjoy the game without getting stuck.

To make things more challenging for veterans there are some optional goals to aim for. Each level has a secret chess that unlocks new artwork from the show and you can also try to collect all the parchments dotted around the levels. The parchments are completely optional and usually require you to take more daring routes or send characters to sections where they would not normally be needed for a nice added challenge. Each level also has a strict time limit to aim for but don’t worry as there is no penalty for failing to beat these.

Even with the top down perspective the visuals remain faithful to the animated series and all the characters are immediately recognizable. The large, colorful levels are fun to explore and the animations of all the characters are excellent.  At the end of each level you are rewarded with a cut-scene that is taken straight from the animated show, but you don’t really need to know the show or characters to enjoy the game. The audio is good and features the familiar theme song that will stick in your head for days. The voice acting is also done by the same folks who lend their vocals to season two of the animated series.

The game can be played with a controller, but I had no issues using the mouse. You can only control one character at a time, so no directing them as a group or selecting waypoints before switching to another character. This means that some extra planning is required to avoid reaching a point where you discover you are using the wrong character for the job, but movement speed is fast enough that even this isn’t much of an issue.

At this point 20 of the promised 30 levels are available and with the conclusion of the animated series on French television the release of the final 10 are imminent. It took me about five hours to complete the 20 levels and at no point did it feel tedious or become a grind to solve the puzzles. The upcoming levels will obviously be more taxing with the final three in particular promising to pose a challenge even to adults.

If you are a fan of the animated series, either the original or the new season then this game should be high on your wish list. While it doesn’t exactly break any new ground, it does offer some solid gameplay in a nice family friendly package. The developers are unmistakably passionate about the license and clearly made a lot of effort to stay true to the show.

*Review originally published November 2013.
As of 11/25/2013 all thirty levels of the game are available on Steam and achievements have been added.

System Requirements

  • OS: Microsoft® Windows® XP / Vista / 8
  • Processor: 1.2GHz processor
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Card supporting Pixel Shader 3.0 and Vertex Shader 3.0
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Microsoft® Windows® XP / Vista / 8
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz and higher
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Card supporting Pixel Shader 3.0 and Vertex Shader 3.0
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 4 GB available space

Related posts

Adam Wolfe

Adam Wolfe

Adam Wolfe is definitely one of the more varied and unique titles in the hidden object game genre. It features tons of detailed locations, an intriguing storyline, as well as interesting gameplay elements that set it apart from similar titles. If you enjoy a good mystery with supernatural elements and don’t mind a bit of action in your hidden object games then this one comes highly recommended. Gameplay: Good hidden object scenes as well as plenty of other puzzles. Graphics: Lots of very detailed scenes and the game looks very polished overall. Sound: The voice acting is above average for the genre while the atmospheric music is a big plus.

Cubixx HD

Cubixx HD

Cubixx HD takes the addictive formula of the old arcade hit, Qix, and drags it into the modern era. The 3D playing field increases the challenge, but the basics can be mastered in no time. Putting up a decent highscore and completing the Challenge levels takes a bit more practice though, not to mention taking on the online leaderboards. Even when failing repeatedly, the addictive gameplay, stylish visuals and thumping soundtrack will keep you coming back for more. Gameplay: Easy to learn, but tough to master just like a good arcade/puzzle game should be. Graphics: Nothing too flashy, but very nice overall. Sound: Definitely a game where you will want to crank the volume up loud.

Zombie Bowl-o-Rama

Zombie Bowl-o-Rama

Zombie Bowl-o-Rama doesn't look like much and to be honest it is going to be too short and easy for most peoples taste but if you enjoy casual games this one has its moments. The whole thing is based around wacky power-ups and the two-player mode is actually quite fun. You might want to wait until it is at a lower price tag however. Gameplay: More of an arcade game than anything resembling real bowling but has its moments. Graphics: Simple enough to run on virtually any PC. Sound: You'll be hearing the phrase "brains" a lot.

Tengami

Tengami

The standout features of Tengami are definitely the unique visuals and great soundtrack, but the tranquil gameplay is also quite good. It doesn’t have an epic story or any action, but the gentle puzzle solving and relaxing atmosphere makes for an interesting experience. The game doesn’t have a lot of freedom, challenge or replay value, but it is quite enjoyable while it lasts and definitely leaves an impression. Gameplay: The puzzles are fairly straightforward and not very numerous, but interacting with the gameworld by pulling or sliding parts of the scenery is quite neat. Graphics: The pop-up book world visuals are simply beautiful. Sound: Features an atmospheric and very appropriate soundtrack by David Wise.

Sakura Dungeon

Sakura Dungeon

Sakura Dungeon offers a nice fusion of traditional step based dungeon crawling and the manga visual style that has made developer Winged Cloud (in)famous. Despite all the erotic content (mostly censored in the Steam version) the game doesn’t skimp on the role playing elements either. It might not be as in-depth or complicated as other dungeon crawlers, but definitely offers a fun and compelling experience. Gameplay: Explore dungeons, defeat cute monster girls and then recruit them to your party. Graphics: The 2D visuals look great despite the lack of animations. Sound: Great music, but limited sound effects and no voice acting.

Nihilumbra

Nihilumbra

Nihilumbra is one of those games that is hard to put down once you start playing. The stylish hand painted visuals along with some excellent creature designs give the game a visual flair of its own while the brilliant narration and moody soundtrack sucks you into the gameworld. Things start off deceptively easy but, once you unlock Void mode, you better be prepared to put all your skills to the test. Gameplay: A charming mixture of platforming and puzzle solving. Graphics: The hand painted visuals are stylish and enhances the atmosphere. Sound: Brilliant narration and a moody soundtrack.

Leave a comment

two × four =