Mystery Mania from EA Mobile captured my attention from the first screenshot I saw of the robot protagonist F8. F8 is a look alike of my favourite video game character ever: Chibi Robo. Just like Chibi Robo F8 is quirky and full of personality.
F8 is a robot that has been placed in a wardrobe to collect dust and rust until the day he is needed again. Now that day has come. F8 has been awoken to find out that the Inventor is in danger. With an amnesia suitable to most day time soap operas F8 wanders out in the mansion in pursuit of answers.
In his way F8 has 27 rooms of strange puzzles to solve, and obstacles to conquer to find out what is going on. Early on F8 meets a large database robot named F1 who is missing some circuitry to remember what has happened. F1 has to collect these pieces of data to get his memory back. The story is then told by F1 in flashbacks to the days when F9 was created. F9 replaced F8 and…amnesia.
The pacing of Mystery Mania is slow, and you solve puzzles by combining the correct objects in the correct order. A lot of variation with puzzles ranging from weight distribution to laser sequences. I like how the developers have managed to keep the puzzles fresh instead of just doing the same puzzle over and over harder and harder. To me Mystery Mania is a combination of Secret of Monkey Island and room escape games such as iEscaper. There is no way to die but you can mess up a puzzle too much to be able to solve it. At least that has happened to me at two occasions forcing me to go back to the map of the mansion to restart the room.
I completed the game within three hours, and quite frankly that feels a bit too short. I d just started to enjoy myself fully when it all ended. Going back just for the achievements is not really adding anything extra.
As point-and-click adventures go Mystery Mania is really good. You won’t get lost or walk around looking for the next puzzle like you do in Simon the Sorcerer and Secret of Monkey Island. Escaping one room at a time is perfect for the iPhone when you play on the go. I
Presentation & Graphics
Cute cartoon graphics with a lot of personality and warmth. Hard not to get into the game with this crisp presentation. Objects are easy to see, and easy to interact with. Animations showing F8 explode or buff up are great. Being a fan of Chibi Robo I am totally sold on the looks of F8 even though it is a total rip-off. Movie sequences of the past interactions between the Inventor, F8 and F9 are filled with emotion and suspense. The presentation manages to make a quite predictable story interesting.
The music is suitable to the mystery theme, akin to something that could have been heard in Scooby Doo. I like it a lot as it really gets me in the mood for some serious puzzle solving. Sound effects are scarce but always spot on. You can choose to play your own playlists from within the game.
The gameplay is slow, and you will have to go by trial and error most of the time. It is easy to select items on screen, and interact with levers and vials. If you touch something there is no way to stop F8 from completing the sequence. This is slowing down the gameplay quite a bit, as you watch the same animations several times. If you have an object in hand F8 drops it, and proceeds to another task if you touch an object that the held object can’t interact with. I would have loved to have a cancel button to stop the current action.
Puzzles are varied but overall a bit easy. The game throws extra objects into each room to confuse you but it is still possible to complete most rooms within a couple of minutes.
The game can be completed within three hours if you are at least a bit logically gifted, and there is little reason to go back and replay it. Achievements are generally awarded for making mistakes such as letting F8 walk into a fireplace. I only managed to get about 16 out of 33 achievements on my first play through due to actually trying to solve the puzzles logically instead of with trial and error.
Mystery Mania is a quality title with splendid graphics and sound. Puzzles being on the easy side along with the short gamelife lowers the final rating. I can recommend Mystery Mania to anyone looking for a varied puzzle game with a lot of personality. At four bucks it is a bit pricey for the time you get out of it, but on the other hand those hours are some of the best the iPhone has to offer.