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Matchmaker: Joining Hearts

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sugar Games
Developer: Sugar Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle (Hidden Object)

Graphics & Sound:

Matchmaker: Joining Hearts is a hidden object game, but it throws a few new twists into the mix. You begin the game as Helen Jones, an elderly woman who has just moved to a quiet seaside town, one obviously filled with single people in their late 30's to mid 40's who have a lot of, umm, quirks. Helen is pretty interesting too, and she apparently has an unparalleled talent in matchmaking, which she intends to put to work in her new town. The levels are fairly attractive and nicely detailed, containing all sorts of little hidden things here and there. Just about all of them are animated in some way, with either a boat going by on the water outside of the window or even someone's twitching leg poking out from under the car they are repairing. What's here is well done and engaging enough for a hidden object game. The characters that you'll meet aren't animated during the storytelling sequences, but most of them look pretty decent. One or two were a little odd in appearance and I have a hard time believing even Helen could find a mate for them, but anyway.

The background music during levels is very pleasant, but stays in the background where it should be. Sound effects work for the game, but they aren't anything to shout about. They do, however, get the job done. There will be little background sounds as well, depending on where the level takes place and they help to immerse you into the level.

In hidden object games, the art of the game can be very important. Do the objects look like they should and are they size-appropriate? Well, items you are searching for look good and are easily recognizable, but sometimes something that should appear to be very small is made much larger or smaller in the level to trick the player, which I don't like. Things are also placed in tricky spots sometimes, but it was never anything really crazy or off the wall.


Matchmaker: Joining Hearts has Helen making matches with 10 different couples, sometimes overlapping potential mates. She'll begin by introducing someone and then mention three potential matches for them. You'll have a level in that person's home where you get to know them by locating different objects in their room. Once you are done, you've got an attribute list for them like Mystic, Food Lover, Traveler, Car Enthusiast, things like that. Then you go through a level with each potential match, doing the same thing. Once you have a list of attributes for the potential matches, you'll compare the list and see who matches up the best. Then, you'll do a side-by-side comparison of the two peoples' rooms, looking for seven or so common items in their room, thus proving their compatibility. Once you are done, you'll have a level where the single person is creating a gift for their first date with the potential match and you must build the gift by locating parts of it around the room. When a gift is constructed of 25 or so tan feathers, it can get tedious, but it's never impossible and if you get stuck, there's always the Hint System. Finally, your last level will be the location of their first date and it's up to you to make it memorable. Here, you'll be tasked with viewing the scene and deciding where the objects in your list go. It's backwards hidden object - where things are missing and you must place them appropriately. Once the first date commences, you move on to the next "lonely heart" and like I said earlier, you may revisit earlier potential matches and their levels or simply connect with people you have met along the way, who then become potential matches.


Matchmaker: Joining Hearts is not a difficult game, but there will be some objects that are simply hard to find. Sometimes, they'll list shadowed areas instead of objects and you have to find the matching object; sometimes, it's the typical picture of an object and you have to find it. Other times, there will be a list of the names of objects and you have to find those and there were times when I didn't know what item they were talking about. I think some things may have been lost in translation. As I mentioned earlier, in some places, you even have to "fill in the blank" and these can sometimes be frustrating, but I never found it so difficult that I couldn't make it past a level.

Game Mechanics:

Matchmaker: Joining Hearts uses the mouse for pretty much everything. It's all about clicking on objects to clear the level. For the most part, things are easy enough to spot, but Matchmaker: Joining Hearts isn't above being extremely tricky in their placement of items or choice of items for you to find. Whether you are looking for a picture of something, a shadowed out object or a named object, your work will be cut out for you.

There is both a Timed and Untimed setting, although they give you so much time on the clock, it's almost like not being timed. There is also a Hint System in place that you can use to point to an object on your list that you can't find, but then you need to wait several minutes for the Hint to refill to be able to use it again. Because of this, it's often best to use it as a last resort.

Although there is nothing wrong with Matchmaker: Joining Hearts, I didn't find it as compelling as some other hidden object games. It's just okay, although I do commend them for throwing so much innovation into the mix for a genre that is overdone as often as hidden object. Check out the demo below to see if it's for you.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium 1.2 GHz or better, Windows 98/ME/2000/2003/XP/Vista and Windows 7, DirectX 7.0 or better, 150MB free hard drive space, Mouse

Test System:

Windows Vista, 2 GHz AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core Processor, 8GB RAM, Realtek High Definition Audio On-Board Sound, NVIDIA GeForce 8300

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