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Art Mogul

Score: 86%
ESRB: 4+
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: Funzai!
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle (Hidden Object)/ Strategy/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Art Mogul HD looks fantastic. You will travel to and from the cities of San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, St. Petersberg, Shanghai and Tokyo in pursuit of art that you can buy and sell for a large profit. While you won't adventure through the cities, each city is represented on the map with an icon like the Statue of Liberty for New York or Mt. Fuji for Tokyo. When you visit a city, they each have a screen depicting iconic images from that city, things such as the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben, golden spired buildings in Russia, cherry blossoms in Tokyo and ornate pagodas in Shanghai.

You'll have a mentor who will coach you in the beginning, and after that, he can advise you via the Hint button that looks like a telephone or a life preserver, depending on the situation. You will also encounter gallery owners, buyers and sellers, and auctioneers. Each person has a very unique look, sometimes strongly resembling a famous person, such as Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra, which is kind of neat.

The background music in Art Mogul HD is nice, but stays in the background where it belongs. There is no voicework, but the sound effects do a good job of portraying what is going on. Sound effects, such as the clinking of coins while you are bidding in an auction and a thud if you tap in the wrong space during a hidden object portion, all work well with the game.


Gameplay:

Art Mogul HD is unlike any game I have played before. It's not your standard hidden object adventure, because it requires serious strategy, while still requiring a keen eye for spotting things. This game is part hidden object and part strategy, so it's an odd but interesting mix. For starters, you'll begin at a gallery in one of the cities that are open to you. There, the gallery owner will offer paintings for sale at a certain price. At the bottom of the screen is a list of objects that can be found somewhere in the various paintings; each object you discover and tap on will grant you a discount for your "art knowledge." Spot all of the interesting objects and you will be rewarded for your art knowledge with the maximum discount of 10% off of the price. You can travel to the different cities that are open to you, but you will pay each time, because just like in real life, travel isn't free. Each gallery owner will be looking for what they consider to be fashionable paintings. If your paintings aren't fashionable at that time, they won't be worth much, but if they are deemed fashionable, you can get a lot more. Once again, you'll have the chance to spot "interesting objects" and the more you spot, the better the deal, whether you are selling or buying.

You will also have the opportunity to visit the local cafes, sometimes finding buyers and sellers there. You can buy paintings at serious discounts, but they could very well be fake. You will look at the painting offered, then switch to an exact duplicate, trying to spot the differences. Sellers will significantly discount a painting with the first difference spotted and will continue to do so for the next two differences, but who wants a fake? Sometimes, you can pick up lovely originals for a fraction of their value and resell for a huge profit after visiting a gallery and having it authenticated for a small fee. Other times, you may rush through your search and accidentally purchase a fake. If you knowingly try to sell it at a café or gallery, you will be banned from that location, because of your fraud and you will lose experience stars... unless, of course, you take them up on their offer to take the fake out of circulation. This goes a long way towards your redemption and while you’ll lose your monetary investment, you earn back a lot of stars. When you want to sell a painting at a café, there will be a handful of potential prices at the bottom of the screen and you can select one, but the more you want, the less likely they are to buy. You then "spin" a wheel and then hit stop. If it lands on a happy face, you sell the painting and with a sad face, you don't. It's all in the timing, though, and practice makes perfect… and lots of money!

The last place you can visit is the auction house, where you can bid on an original painting. There will be three other bidders and if you bid, then spot the object shown at the bottom of the screen before the others bid, you can "stun" them. Do this three times in a row and you win the auction for a lower price than you would have just normally bidding. You can also check out requests at auction houses. This is where someone is seeking a painting that contains a specific object. As you travel across the globe, you can purchase these paintings, often earning huge profits this way.

The most prestigious thing you can do is to turn a gallery into a museum. You do this by selecting a theme for your museum and then searching the globe for paintings that contain this theme or, more specifically, certain objects within them. You'll have the opportunity to create three museums during the game, but these can be tough to locate and it takes a keen eye.

I will admit that I originally began playing Art Mogul HD a while ago. I missed purchasing a needed painting for my first gallery because I did not have the funds to buy it. Shame on me, as I didn't realize that you could go borrow money from the bank. Instead, I simply thought it was one of those micro-transaction things where you could "buy" additional funds with real world money. I have since learned that I was incorrect and that you can borrow, repay and save game money at the bank. I say all of this to convey my supreme discouragement with Art Mogul HD back then because, although I kept playing for quite some time, the painting never came back up again for purchase. Having since restarted the game anew and having beaten it, I can say that the painting may have eventually come available again, but with the limited number of towns that I could visit (New York, San Francisco and London only), I can't be sure. This is why I say strategy must be employed in this game; miss a critical painting and you are stuck, possibly needing to restart the game. That being said, they do give you ample opportunity to buy it and if need be, just borrow the money from the bank.


Difficulty:

Art Mogul HD is not hard, per se, but it's not easy, either. You have to really look for the objects and you have to be hyper aware of every painting that comes across your path. The object you are looking for may be cleverly hidden or smaller than the scale you are shown. Auctions take skill and fast spotting of objects to succeed. Also, be careful what theme you choose for your museums; I chose dogs for one of mine, because I figured those would be easy to spot. Well, sure, but then there are all the paintings that have dogs in them that aren't what you are looking for. The Hint button is there to help you and, if you find yourself stuck, don't hesitate to use it for either guidance or to spot an object you can't find yourself. It is slow to refill, however.

In the upper right-hand corner, you will find your current tasks, like requests from auction houses and what you need to complete your latest museum, as well as your art collection. Remember to refer to this to ensure you are buying the right painting.


Game Mechanics:

Art Mogul HD requires a lot of tapping and fast reflexes to spot objects. I do love the fact that there are several hundred original paintings throughout the game, from well-known artists to some I had never heard of. I learned a lot from the game and I also found that just because I liked a certain art style and kept buying the brightly colored Van Gogh's, Kandinsky's and Miro's, this didn't necessarily mean that the rest of the game's art world felt the same way. I found myself shouting to the gallery owners, "How can a Van Gogh ever not be fashionable?!?" But in all seriousness, Art Mogul HD is a fantastic game that combines hidden object, mini-action games and deep strategy into a wonderful title that might just pull in the atypical iPad owner. My mom is an artist and I can't wait for her to try Art Mogul HD. I think she'll lose countless hours just marveling at the body of work found tucked away in this wonderful game.

Despite my earlier frustrations, Art Mogul HD is one of the best games out there and is a very different experience. Just beware of missing out on a needed painting and you should be fine. Highly recommended.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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