As a National Geographic research journalist, there is opportunity to travel the world, explore new places, and write about unique topics. In Explorer: Contraband Mystery, gamers can take on the role and embark on a journey that involves adventure and mystery after discovering smuggling operations in Africa.
Simply put, Explorer: Contraband Mystery is a hidden object game with mini-games. At its start, the game kicks off with travel preparation in the form of a very brief and easy round of hidden object play. The adventure is then broken up with cutscenes offering story progression while moving from location to location in search of more hidden objects. Like other games that offer this form of play, a list of the missing items informs users what to look for, and a rechargeable hint button assists in finding any objects that are too difficult to find. All of the objects in play hold different values; regular objects on the list help to proceed in the game, hidden gems provide extra score points, and batteries provide hint recharge power which comes in the form of a laptop. In addition to these objects, the different levels also feature a handprint to be located which provides a real scientific fact related to the current mission when found. For example, in the Gorillas mission, facts about African tribes are learned and then saved in the game’s journal.
The scenery and visuals are excellent, providing various backdrops for the hidden objects. However, seasoned gamers may agree that some objects are relatively easy to find, with only a few items here and there likely requiring a hint to locate. This is mainly due to the fact that many of the objects are not hidden within a cluttered collage of similar colors and patterns which is quite a common strategy.
Rounding out gameplay is a mixture of very challenging mini-games including timed hidden object rounds, finding the difference between two pictures, and puzzles that require assembly. Multiple missions bring some extended life and playability to the title as there three to investigate and explore; Gorillas, Diamonds, and Drugs. Each mission is similar in play, and the Drug Mission is only available after having completed Gorillas and Diamonds first. With an interesting concept and story, and graphics and sound that are top notch; National Geographic Explorer: Contraband Mystery offers an overall fun experience. The title is available as a down-loadable demo and for purchase through the gaming portal Big Fish Games.