Play With Your Kids: Art Appreciation (The Hunt for Red Panda Edition)
The Hunt for Red Panda ($2.99) is a new mobile game from Zagrava Games.
The Hunt For Red Panda goes well beyond your typical hidden object game. We want to instill in players the idea that paintings need to be appreciated and preserved for future generations — and to teach them (in a fun way) the basics of restoring important masterpieces.
When we were offered a review code for this game I jumped at the chance. Hidden object games are a guilty pleasure for me. I play them on my phone while waiting in lines, waiting rooms, and anywhere else I have 5 minutes to spare. My love of the genre is even seeping over into my console gaming where I am finding myself playing them (every now and then) on the XBox One with games like Nightmares of the Deep and Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink which are solid puzzle games with fun narratives and beautiful art.
But I digress, The Hunt for Red Panda is a game that asks you to undo the damage done to famous works of art at museums worldwide by the Red Panda. The Red Panda is a disgruntled artist who is hellbent on destroying all of the world’s famous art by adding random objects them. Your job as the player/restoration specialist is to use various methods of art restoration to restore the paintings to their original states. As you restore the paintings you also find clues that will reveal who the Red Panda actually is.
The idea behind The Hunt for Red Panda is an amazing one. Searching famous works of art for hidden objects, but it fails in it’s execution. This failure occurs because you never know what you are looking for. In one mode, the game will tell you how many objects you are looking for, but not what those objects are. And while that is the standard for most hidden object games, it does not have to happen in every one, but we need some point of reference. In a game where you play an art restoration specialist it would even be more fitting to offer us a reference image for the painting that we were tasked with restoring, just as would be the case in the real world.
Not having any point of reference just serves to make the game unnecessarily difficult and frustrating, especially since you have to earn enough money from restorations to move on to the next level/museum. I found the lack of clues especially disappointing when the game itself has so much potential in terms exposing players to famous works of art. In a pinch I might supplement the game and use a reference image of the painting that I am charged with restoring to make it work a little better. This lack of a reference image is especially odd because there are other puzzles in the game that give you a timed glance at painting with the hidden items in it and then goes back to the original and asks you to point to the spots where the images were in the vandalized image, so you know that the game is able to do this technologically. I hope that this might even be something that they would address in a patch.
Overall, I’d say The Hunt for Red Panda has potential. The artwork is beautiful and the images are hidden in such a way that they are well integrated and don’t make finding them either too easy or utterly impossible, but not knowing what you are looking for (or absent that what the original image looked like) makes the game far too frustrating to play at this stage. If it sounds like something that you don’t want to pass up on I can only suggest that you give yourself access to a reference image to help you along.