Given that hidden object games usually focus on the careful examination of messy, cluttered locations, it makes perfect sense that you usually play as some kind of detective. It doesn't, however, explain why you might have to locate four different types of lizard, or a picture of an apple. "Just hold on, Watson, I appear to have discovered a very suspicious inflatable ball."
In fairness, Big Fish Games has a doozy of an excuse to require such a thorough approach, with key objects covered in acoruscant pink powder - a MacGuffin that purportedly holds the key to eternal life, or some such.
The said dust must be collected in a receptacle that, in an ingenious/insidious piece of in-game promotion, resembles the gold Wii RemotePlus that Nintendo is bundling with Zelda: Skyward Sword later this year.
In a further neat twist, the device doubles as a phone, which allows Winston Malgrave, owner of the island you're investigating, to keep in touch with you.
If you've got your remote speaker volume turned up, the crackly ring tone occasionally gives you ajolt, not least because Big Fish conjures up quite a spooky atmosphere on the abandoned island.
The dilapidated locales feel somehow threatening, even if you're rarely in danger, with the biggest threat coming from various precariously balanced objects above your head. While the now-familiar object hunts take up a significant portion of your play time, the mystery itself is intriguing. Plus simple point-and-click exploration and puzzles offer a bit more variety than the comparatively dull Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir.
The improved presentation no doubt helps. This is a better-looking and more polished title, with some subtle animations bringing the detailed scenery to life.
The hidden object interludes, meanwhile, benefit from extra visual depth, allowing you to zoom and pan elegantly using the Wii Remote, peeking around objects in the foreground that often obscure key background items. Sometimes you'll even find something to interact with, whether you're shifting aside clothes, opening a cupboard or triggering a switch, and some items can only be found this way. Should you still be struggling, you can sacrifice some dust for a clue to the location of one of the remaining items.
Clicking randomly on the screen hoping to find something will see you penalised, with a cloud of dust obscuring your view. As you periodically need to activate powder-powered mechanisms, you may need to revisit previous locations to grab some more, but otherwise there's no real way to fail.
Yet while there might be no game over, itis possible to get completely stuck in the adventure parts. There's a fair bit of backtracking involved, and some items only become available once you've visited the same area twice.
Occasionally you'll resort to tedious pixel-hunts, clicking on every item in an area hoping to accidentally happen upon the specific object you need to move on. Invariably, you'll then have to trudge slowly through several screens to find the place to then use the newly acquired item. Given that you're helped through the hidden-object sequences, it seems bizarre that the game offers you no hints for the rest.
At least this busy work occasionally turns out to be worthwhile, with collectibles eventually unlocking further puzzles. Other players can join in to assist in the hidden object scenes, or if you fancy a competitive spin on item hunting, three multiplayer modes are available.
Swift Pick asks you to find an object before your opponents, and Classic Pick rewards whoever finds the most items from a list.
Tick Tick Pick is the most interesting mode, with the current player only able to pass on the time bomb they're holding by finding one of the remaining objects.
The Malgrave Incident might not be everyone's cup of tea, but with a very sensible budget price and surprisingly polished presentation, it could well prove a pleasant diversion for those seeking something a little more sedate.