In the many years I’ve been writing about oddball video gaming stuff, I thought I covered it all. The unofficial expansion packs, the weird cross-promotions, the mostly forgotten cheap games that came out during the 2000s. But it wasn’t until recently did I realize there was one genre I never talked much about: The hidden object game.
A genre I haven’t really covered on here, the hidden object game involves usually finding a bunch of items inside a room to make progress. For a good long while, the hidden object genre was the go-to game for super casual gamers everywhere. I assume it’s still modestly popular, but I figure most people have since moved on to Candy Crush Saga and similar easy-to-understand mobile game offerings.
Normally, I wouldn’t cover these, but then I found an interesting hidden object game. One mashed up with a classic online game I remember from my teen years. When I spotted this game at a thrift store, I had wondered how they decided to bring back a mostly dormant franchise and combine it with one of the most popular casual gamer genres out there. Turns out it’s quite a journey.
Slingo Mystery: Who’s Gold? is a game developed and published by Funkitron Games – no relation to Toejam & Earl – that combines the popular hidden object game with Slingo, a game show-like game that mixes slot machines with bingo. Released around 2007 for PC platforms, this game seemed to slip through the cracks, as I didn’t realize this existed until I picked it up last year at a thrift store.
But before we get into the game itself, a small primer on what Slingo is. You have a bingo card and every spin of the reels gives you five numbers to fill the card with. Alongside the numbers are jokers – a wild card that can be used to mark any number on the column its on, gold coins – gives you extra score, and the devil, which cuts your score in half. You have up to 20 spins to fill the card, and the first to do so wins the game.
Slingo is a game I fondly remember from my days of playing it on America Online. For people of my generation, Slingo was one of those classic games people played in the early 2000s, web 1.0-era internet. That, Yahoo Games, You Don’t Know Jack: The NetShow and Acrophobia are many of these online games I fondly remember. Sadly, most of these are gone now, or live on through fanmade clones.
I’ve talked about Slingo once before: Way back in 2012, covering the time Zynga licensed the game for a Facebook mobile game that was fairly short-lived. It was perfectly fine, but filled with microtransactions and nagging your Facebook friends for help, which was pretty common at the time. Thank god we kinda moved past that.
But I’ve waxed enough nostalgia. Let’s get into the hybrid Slingo meets hidden object game that is Slingo Mystery: Who’s Gold?
You play as Maggie Gold, a divorced, destitute woman who finds out from her friend Kyle Sparks that her ex-husband Freddy has passed, and decided to give his massive Las Vegas casino, “The Gold Casino,” to his current wife Gloria. Throughout the various areas of the casino, Maggie tries to find out the secrets of the casino, which involves a bunch of unusual item hunting and puzzle-solving.
Now, normally I wouldn’t talk too much about hidden object games. They always seemed to be the kind of genre that would flood the bargain bins of office supplies and department stores, sitting alongside a rack of cheap PC releases of games past like Braid or Far Cry 2. To me, these kind of games peaked when books like I Spy and Where’s Waldo came out. I couldn’t imagine these kind of games were anywhere near my wheelhouse.Continue reading…