Robin's Island Adventure
Year Published: 2011
Publisher: 1C Entertainment
Developer: Shaman Games Studio

Robin's Island Adventure is a match-3 game with some hidden object and puzzle scenes scattered every so many levels. While I have played, and enjoyed, several match-3/HO hybrids, this early effort by Shaman Games is considerably broken. While I pushed myself to finish it, I will never replay it, nor ever try to win all the in-game trophies (the game does not have Steam achievements).

Robin begins her quest to annoy the native population.

Our heroine Robin may or may not be named after Daniel Defoe's fictional hero Robinson Crusoe, but she ends up shipwrecked on an island much the same. Any similarities end there, however, as Robin explores the island and teaches a native tribe how to build "modern world" things in exchange for their help in rebuilding her ship. Yes, it's a White Savior story, and a particularly eyerolling one. Robin appears to be a young adult in the cutscenes, which makes sense considering her mastery over carpentry and the fact she was sailing a ship all by herself. But when the match-3 games begin, Robin appears as a tiny child on the playing board who looks and acts no older than five.

If only you could bury the little cur under this mess.

Robin seems to be grossly unaware of what age she's supposed to be and the nature of the game she's in. You play match-3 to destroy tiles and forge a path for Robin to reach a goal. But she becomes very impatient if she waits for more than a few seconds and will start fidgeting, yawning, and humming loudly, and she will do this constantly, even as you are trying your best to make matches and clear the path. It is almost impossible to keep Robin moving because of the random way the tiles fall and how they're often wedged in tight areas. So, unless you turn the volume off, or spam the special items you can earn in the shop, Robin will pester you throughout every stage she appears in. She now holds the dubious honor of being the single most obnoxious video game character I've ever had the displeasure of dealing with and no, I'm not forgetting Navi from Ocarina of Time or Slippy Toad. The only saving grace is that not all stages include the little brat, and you will be thankful for every moment spent without her.

I get it. Casual match-3 and hidden object games are marketed to women (mothers, in particular, it seems). "Mommy's Little Girl" type characters come with the territory and I've put up with my fair share of them. But here is a game that includes one at the cost of it making any sense. A 5-year-old can't sail a ship and build one from scratch, and a 20-year-old doesn't look, act, or sound like Robin's game board sprite. Some of the tribesmen blame recent plagues and drought on her. Personally, I think they're just making up excuses to get rid of her. It's no wonder.

Hidden object scenes involve raiding the locals' huts.

The match-3 game mechanics are little more than busywork as your best chance of clearing any given stage is running out of possible moves and having the board re-roll. The bombs that sometimes appear are nearly useless as they hardly ever land in a spot where they'll do any good. Strategy and skill are absent as much of your time is spent hoping the right tiles fall into the right places, and it feels like literally everything happens by accident. While having animated tiles is a novel idea, it can be irritating when you're trying to match a blue octopus and it's turning red (the same color as the crabs) under your cursor.

The puzzles and hidden object scenes are exceptionally banal. Two of them are Sliding Tiles, and if that doesn't tell you something, the HO scenes often reuse the same objects, which, dear reader, are even sometimes misnamed. Shaman Games is known for making hidden object games without any actual HO scenes, and judging by the lack of effort put forth here, it's clear their hearts are not into them.

I normally wouldn't include a credits screen, but I find it amusing the person responsible for the sound effects clearly doesn't want to be known.

It goes without saying there are better match-3 and hidden object games out there. What I find dumbfounding is that any game developer would have their titular character act like what's going on is boring. If the heroine doesn't find the game fun, why should the player? Let's just hope if Robin ever shipwrecks again, it's on an uninhabited island where she'll never annoy anyone ever again.

SCORE: 1.5/5



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