Skipper and Skeeto: The Great Treasure Hunt

Developer:  Ivanoff Interactive
Publisher:  GSP
Year Released:  2001

Review by Rosemary Young (November, 2003)
One dark night Mr Shade approaches Noblecastle and raps on the door. Skipper and Skeeto quickly hide, and from their hiding place overhear the sinister visitor demanding repayment for his debt! The Count and Countess beg for more time but they have only 1 hour to come up with the money. If only they knew where their illustrious ancestors had hidden the Noblecastle treasure! If only there was someone to help!

It sounds like a job for a plucky mole and his mosquito sidekick. After all it's Skipper and Skeeto's home and they don't want the park turned into a rubbish tip. So can they find the treasure and save the day?

Forgotten moments
This second adventure of Skipper and Skeeto is aimed at players 6 to 14 years. It is much like Paradise Park in that it is one big treasure hunt, however this time the hunt is timed. There's only one game hour to find the treasure and the clock ticks down and the candle burns low as you go.

So is there plenty of time to succeed? Not exactly! There is, however, a way to grab back time when players find a 'forgotten moment' on their travels. These invaluable golden bubbles appear throughout the game when puzzles are solved, or more often as a reward for exploring carefully. They are abundant and will even reappear in the same room as play continues so it pays to keep a look out. Just collect them up, use them as needed and watch the clock wind backwards and the candle creep back up. This means that time isn't really a problem ... it adds to the fun ... but it still pays to watch the clock and save often just in case!

Hunting around
With the above in mind there's some serious treasure hunting to do in this game. Every room in the castle must be thoroughly searched and there are plenty of puzzles or obstacles to overcome along the way. Amongst other things there are keys to find, secret rooms to discover, and there are a dozen or so torn pieces of paper to collect and piece together. Sometimes pathways are blocked so objects are required to continue including something to open the cellar trapdoor or something to calm the carnivorous plant, and a wick for the lamp will come in handy too. There are also a few problems skewed towards learning such as a challenge to place the planets on a display in their correct positions and one to stack boxes according to their atomic weights on the periodic table of elements.

Added to this there is a fairly large maze at the end of the game and some surprises along the way as the one-time residents of the castle are still around to make life difficult. They scare away Skipper and Skeeto from some rooms so they have to be dealt with before progress is made. To do this each ghostly resident must be placated with an item that was dear to them. The ghosts come in many colours and they delight in pulling funny faces ... they are fun ... and should raise a squeal or two, although sensitive younger players might not be so amused.

Of mice and moles
The Great Treasure Hunt is a mouse controlled game. A menu bar below the picture window contains the clock and candle icons and allows access to the inventory which opens almost full screen. It also contains the all important magnifying glass icon which is essential for exploration because some of the items to collect are very small. The idea is to search carefully with the magnifying glass and watch for it to enlarge and signal that there is something of interest. It works, but it still demands diligence to find some things and younger players might well miss important items. Other cursors include a pointing finger to interact with the gameworld, a hand to take objects and a large arrow for navigation. As well as counting down time the candle icon gives access to the main menu screen for quitting, saving and loading. Saving is simple and there are 16 save game slots where a picture of the save location is displayed. Throughout the game all dialogue and narration is written to the left of the menu bar.

In summary The Great Treasure Hunt is a worthy continuation of Skipper and Skeeto's adventures although Skipper and Skeeto do take their time moving around and there is no way to terminate dialogue if it has been heard before.

The graphics are clear and bright, the overall concept is great and the forgotten moments really inject some fun into the proceedings, but unfortunately the game is let down somewhat by the attempt to target such a wide age range. Aiming at ages 6 to 14 is brave indeed as the gap between the youngest and oldest is just too wide. At the younger end of the spectrum children will need considerable help with the planet puzzle, for instance, and with other problems too, whilst older children might very likely be 'too old' for the narration and the 'cuteness' of Skipper and Skeeto.

Because of the relative difficulty of this game, the timed element, and the small size of some of the collectable objects, it is probably best suited to older children although parents might also have some fun helping out. It's quite a substantial game and the version I played came minus a manual and with no documentation on the disk. This didn't matter too much as it's very intuitive but (hint) I tripped up because I didn't click one item on Skipper to use it!

See the Skipper and Skeeto: The Great Treasure Hunt walkthrough. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 2003. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
486, Win 95/98, 8MB RAM, 93 MB Hard Disk space, CD ROM, 256 colour display, 16 bit sound card, mouse.
Installed and worked fine in XP.