Search and Find With the Romance of Rome

Geek Culture

Between I Spy, Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir and others, I’ve played many search-and-find games. I enjoy them, but my son especially enjoys them. And since ancient Rome is one of the many topics in history we’ll tackle this year, I was thrilled to learn about a new app called Romance of Rome.

When you start Romance of Rome for the first time, the game asks you who you are. You can type in your name, or your pretend Roman name, or whatever you like. This means that you can have multiple games going, which really helps in a family like mine with multiple search-and-find game lovers. The game then asks you to sign into Game Center (or not). It asks you this each time you start up the game.

On the main screen, there are options to change, other games to check out, Facebook connections, etc. But tap “Play” to get playing. The story starts with a couple of comic book style pages to introduce the overarching story. The text is small and illegible on an iPod Touch, but you can tap and hold to zoom in. The game also reads the dialogue aloud.

The game shows a map of the locations you need to search. You start the very first time by doing a small tutorial, which can be skipped if desired. But the tutorial also serves as the start to the game. Choose a location on the map to start searching for objects. Each location has a certain number of hidden coins, hidden objects and puzzles.

In each location, search for hidden objects whose pictures are at the bottom of the screen. Only six objects are shown at once. When you find one of those, the object disappears and another one appears. This keeps happening until you’ve gotten them all. As you search through each scene, you may notice things that appear out of place but aren’t at the bottom of the screen. These are most likely items that you’ll have to find later, so remember their location for later. You can also zoom in on the scene to see things more closely.

Each time you find an item or a hidden coin, you get more money to spend at the market. You can buy things at the market at any time, by tapping on your face. There, you can buy clothes, adornments and many other items. Since your status depends on how you look and what you own, purchasing these items is how you advance in the game. In fact, at the end of each of the seven episodes, the game requires you to buy everything available in the market for that level.

Some of the items you find in each scene end up in your inventory. Those you can later use on other objects in the scene, or in another scene. Inventory items have a green background at the bottom of the screen, and ordinary items have blue. Objects that you will use your inventory items on are outlined in yellow from time to time to remind you. When you have the right item in your inventory, tap that item and then the yellow outlined object to interact with it. Sometimes other objects you have to find will be within.

Most of the items you are looking for seem to be less integrated with the background image, so they are often easy to spot. But as you go on, sometimes they are hidden behind other things, are smaller than they appear in the list or they are in the shadows and thus discolored.

If you get stuck in any location, there is a hint button to help you find hidden objects. You can also tap the city circle at any time to go back to the map. The Status button shows your current trophies and relics, and also your current status. You start out as an Adventurer and gain status from there. In between and while searching for the hidden items, you help people with various tasks. You also fall in love with a girl…

After each episode, the game asks you if you want to write a review at the iTunes store. Each new episode then fills the city in a bit more with more buildings and locations, though after a while you start to revisit locations from the past to search for new things.

I’ve played many search-and-find games, and this is the most sophisticated and addictive. The story is cute and fits really well with the game, even giving a reason for why you’re searching for items in so many different locations. The details and graphics are well done, and there are enough things to find that most people (though especially children) could play this game over and over. Unlike games like I Spy, this one doesn’t seem to be specifically designed for children.

Romance of Rome is available for the iPod Touch and iPhone for $4.99 and for the iPad for $6.99. It is very well done, and quite a lot of fun for kids and grown-ups alike. I highly recommend it.

Note: I received a copy of this game for review purposes.

All images courtesey of G5 Entertainment.

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