Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena
Year Published: 2008
Publisher: MumboJumbo
Developer: MumboJumbo

I adore the Samantha Swift games. I love the hand-drawn artwork, the goofy characters, the lush settings, the ambient music, and the pleasing sound effects, many of which would be reused in developer MumboJumbo's more popular Midnight Mysteries series. I love the simple animations that invigorate the scenery - I wanted to play it when I saw the walking Greek god statue in the Steam trailer. Most of all, I love Samantha's completely nuts and arguably worse-than-Indiana Jones's approach to the field of archaeology, which typicallly involves someone making a big mess, and then picking through it for the important stuff.

Ravena Stryker's attitude towards archaeology is even worse than Samantha's.

Samantha Swift works for the fictitious New York Museum of Lost Secrets, and much like Indiana Jones, she travels the world looking for artifacts to add to its collections. After a series of hidden object and puzzle scenes in a forgotten Greek temple, "Sam" (as she's known by her colleagues) uncovers the Scepter of Zeus...which is then stolen by rival Ravena Stryker, who is to Samantha Swift what Belloq was to Indiana Jones.

During the course of these events, Sam also discovers a shield that was once wielded by the Greek goddess, Athena. Writing on the shield provides clues to the locations of the "hidden roses". The roses, which look like novelty bath soaps, are supposed to be inserted into holes in the shield to bestow different powers on its bearer. Naturally, Ravena Stryker and her boss want this shield and its roses, but decide to sit most of the game out and wait for Sam to collect them all first.

Ancient Greek statues could walk! Who knew?

As much as I love this, and I love the gorgeously-drawn places Samantha visits, the fact that this is the oldest game in the series, and the first hidden object game MumboJumbo developed, rather shows. When I put my memory back in the faraway era of 2008, I realize that HOG's in which some items become tools to help find other objects or solve puzzles wasn't very common. HOG's with completely original art, as opposed to clipart scavenged from various sources, was almost unheard of. Full soundtracks were even less common, though sadly, I have never been able to find a way to get the Samantha Swift series music for my collection. So, the game definitely had all of this going for it.

Unfortunately, Hidden Roses of Athena is extremely short and easy. You visit a lot of places on the hunt for those roses, but they all go by so quickly you might forget where you just were. The puzzles are fun, but are also very simple. The story and characters are cute, but written on a juvenile level - rival Ravena Stryker becomes irrelevant by the end. All of this suggests the game is meant more for children than the usual middle-aged women demographic HOG's typically aim for.

Samantha even goes on archaeological digs in the rooms of other museums.

Interesting to note is that many of the items you collect go into the museum, and you can view this from the main menu. This seems to be the dev's way of making the objects more relevant, even those you don't end up using as tools. But seeing as how the artifacts are based on real-life historical objects, a short description of each would've been appreciated (and educational).

While I have a soft spot for it, the only way I can seriously recommened Hidden Roses of Athena is if you can get it with the other Samantha Swift games. Sadly, only the first two are on Steam, and I originally got them in a bundle during a holiday sale. Hidden Roses is enjoyable, but will probably leave you feeling like it wasn't a full game experience, so having at least one other in the series will satisfy wanting more.

SCORE: 2.5/5



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