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Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers Review

Sara Lau
Apr 12,2012  09:04 by
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The huge success of Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise seems to have given Disney a taste of the sweetness of the park-inspired adaption. Animal Kingdom, another theme park of theirs, has hit, well not the big screen this time, but Facebook. Developed by Playdom, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers is a hidden-object game centering on wildlife preserve.

I frowned on hearing the name “Animal Kingdom”, because really, haven’t we had enough zoo/wildlife animal games on Facebook? Nevertheless with all the previous being Farmville variations, it is the first time the theme being introduced into the new genre. Since Playdom, pioneer of hidden-object social games, already has 2 titles on Facebook Hottest Games list, Gardens of Time and Black and Bell Mysteries, It wouldn’t be surprising if the newcomer follows the proven success format of its award-winning predecessors. But the question is, is there anything new?

In Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers, players act as a member of Global Wildlife Research team exploring various wilderness areas all over the world, and establishing wild animal preserve, as opposed to time traveling and garden decorating in Gardens of Time. Throughout 24 hidden-object scenes in 6 main story Chapters, players will be immersed in exotic views such as African grasslands, Amazon rainforest and Rocky Mountains, and the adorable animals inhabit there. Each “scene complete” earns you Experience Points and in-game shop currency Silver. The Shop, as always, provides a wide choice of products, from animals, plants and decorations to terrains and quest items. (Is it just me or acquiring wild animals from shop really sounds weird?)

Different from traditional zoo games, Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers does not let your preserve animals grow. Instead they add to your Reputation, a key stats to unlock hidden-object scenes. A wise combination of animals and their habitats can bring the Reputation into full play. Giraffe, for example, gives more Reputation bonus if placed in group next to trees and bushes; the number drops dramatically if it goes too close to the lion habitat set.

This “actual fact” side of the game shows a spark of innovation, among which the Animal Hint addition appeals to me most. Apart from traditional hidden-object hints such as Magnifying Glass and Goggles, you have access to a new type of hint exclusive to animal spotting. Clicking on the animal name in the retrieval list will bring up its single portrait and some fun-to-read trivia about the creature. This makes the game more family friendly. However, it is pity that such information is only available in the middle of a hidden-object scene. I’d be thrilled if they can archive all the known animals into an almanac like what Sony did with Wildlife Refuge. It will be a great motivation for collector addicts like me to go through every single scene over and over again just to complete my collection.

Speaking of repeatability, boredom sets in after Level 5-ish. With only two types of quest lingering on the left side of the screen, I can either stretch my eyes to look for hidden items repetitively in the same old scenes, or flick with my finger abstractedly to spam task item requests to my friends. Of course this could be the problem of lack of neighbors as the game was just released for a couple of days by the time the review was written.

That being said, Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers is a decent hidden-object social game with fine art designs and agreeable themes. After all, who could resist cute animals? And its theme park origin is bound to draw many a lot Disneyland Park fans.

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