Maybe you’ve seen the shows. American Pickers, Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, Hardcore Pawn and so forth. Perhaps you’ve wondered if you cash in one the old saw “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” without the incessant “Y——-p!” bid chanting, sibling rivalry or, er, trash-talk of competitors. If so, you may want to take a gander at Mumbo Jumbo’s Pickers HD for iPad.
The premise of the game is fairly simple: You are the proprietor of Rusted Gold, a store specializing in unusual or offbeat items. You must travel the US, or rather, twelve locations within the US, scout out items, haggle with the owners and return with the finds to your store to sell that day for maximum profit. The game starts with the player creating a profile and choosing one of four game types: Zen for casual, Regular for a bit more challenge, Advanced for competitive play, and Expert for competing against elite pickers. The game is an interesting insight into capitalism, as the idea is for the player to buy low and sell high. Sorry, comrade. No price controls for you!
So, once a game type is chosen, a typical day starts with your assistant calling you up to tell you what the “hot collectible” items for the day might be, and what, if any, new locations have been found.
Pick a location, and start hunting!
In the screen above, various items can be grabbed and put in your inventory, the gumball machine, the slot machine, even the cow horns (NB: My wife inherited a set of cow horns just like those above the Casino sign…I’ve been sorely tempted to mount them on the front of my vehicle). The eye icons indicate item cache areas, and arrows indicate other new areas to visit.
Down arrow sends user back to preceding location. Some areas players will notice a slight golden glow with tiny dollar signs wafting up. These indicate a Hidden Object puzzle area.
Hidden Objects areas in the game serve two functions. The first is to serve as a means of quick cache…your assistant calls up and tells you a collector is willing to pay x dollars for items found in the Hidden Objects area, and once all the objects are found, the player is rewarded with a free bonus inventory item that can be sold, sometimes falling into the “Hot Items” category.
Fast puzzle completion is rewarded as well. I found the responsiveness and precision required on my iPad 2 quite good and reasonable, so there’s enough “fuzzy touch logic” that users aren’t necessarily bogged down with having to overly precisely select and item. Additionally, there is a hint feature if a player gets stuck.
Sharp-eyed players will note that certain areas have various key shapes in odd places. Clicking on these helps unlock special game features, so keep a close watch for these when playing. Good observation skills are a must anyway, because you just never know what items are available to grab or what might be lurking behind another object. Items don’t announce themselves; you do have to hunt them down!
Occasionally a player will pick up an item in inventory showing a “plus” sign adjacent to it. This indicates the item selected has a component missing that if paired, brings even more money, more or less “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts”. In the picture below, note the plus next to the triceratops fossil.
Once you’ve finished picking out items in an area, it’s time to pay.
Here the rather colorful Lizzie Davis (Mimi Bobeck from the Drew Carey Show?), awaiting payment for items picked out at her residence. The red shopping carts and white background of items always indicate an unpaid item. Green items are those paid or gifted from the Hidden Object puzzles, and blue items are those currently selected. Next to the location owner’s name is a colored scale, stormy on one end, sunny on the other. These are relative indicators of a person’s willingness to haggle with a player. Each time a user haggles and offers less than what the seller originally offered or counters with moves the arrow unfavorably to the left. Once a player gets into the red, there is really no more room to negotiate.
You can raise the level by offering what the owner wants initially or offering more than the suggested price. You can score rewards by keeping owners/sellers happy. I found it’s a good strategy to pay their asking price on cheap items as this will allow plenty of flexibility when haggling over big-ticket items, so don’t sweat the small stuff. For high-dollar items, it’s sometimes worthwhile to click the “Ask Expert” button on the negotiation screen to determine an items likely worth. Additionally, players can select multiple unpaid items to buy as a group, which may in the long run save a few dollars here and there as sellers may oftentimes offer a small discount.
Once a player has filled all seven slots in the inventory strip, it’s time to head back to the shop and prepare for sale or auction. Here we can see a few items that have the potential to be combined for a greater profit.
To combine, drag the items in question to the green boxes at the bottom of the screen and click the plus sign.
If successful, you will see another screen.
When ready to selling, the player can select an item in question and get an expert appraisal, price (or reprice if it didn’t sell last time), restore an item or even auction the item.
In the above example, I’m going to have the saddle appraised.
The expert tells me the saddle in its current condition is worth at least $483, more than what I paid for it. In this instance I have the option of restoring the saddle, which I do. Now observe the Appraise value…quite a bit more, even factoring in the restoration. Seduced by filthy lucre, I bump up the price above its appraised value. Now to sell!
Sometimes a potential buyer will haggle with the player, in this case, as luck would have it, my saddle. I’m not selling it that low, so adios, amigo to you and the horse you rode in on!
And, as luck would have it, no one buys the saddle. But wait! It’s a Hot Category, so I’m going to gamble on the auction, so I select “Auction”. Here we go…
Here we have a fine example of an auction done to my advantage. And what an advantage…why, I even earned a “Jackpot Sale” award.
Auctions don’t always work to your advantage, and the game has enough variability to make the experience interesting. Some days are chickens, some days are feathers. The game does provide auctioneer sound effects that are generic and finish with the hammer. If you are Daffy Duck greedy you can click the skip button, a nice touch for someone playing in a hurry.
Once the day is done, you may unlock special achievements, and the whole process continues onto the next day, repeating the cycle until game completes. Once a game is completed, a player can unlock Unlimited Hidden Object games within each area to play to your heart’s content. Sort of a retirement bonus, if you will.
Ordinarily I don’t play too many games on my iPad, though I’ve quite a few loaded up, but Pickers was highly addictive for me. There was enough variety and outcome uncertainty along with hidden object puzzles and the need to develop a plan for attack each day. For the Hidden Object portions of the game, Mumbo Jumbo was kind not to penalize players for excessive tapping. While one might argue it makes this section much easier, one needs to remember that fat-fingering the wrong object on a touchscreen is all too easy, so I think the developers made a wise decision in making ease-of-use paramount. Personally, I would have like the Zen play to be longer than 30 days, if for no other reason than players would have more time to explore newly unlocked areas since the game seems to start and unlock areas in the same order. I wonder if perhaps a bit more randomness in start areas might not add more interest to the game, since the contents within each area do not change. Plus, I wanted more time to explore that creepy area in the Northwest… I’m sure the owner plays “Goodbye Horses” in the basement after I leave. That or he’s an Addams Family relative. Regardless, Pickers is chock full of eye-candy, and with the option of five different users playing different games, you can try your hand at different game types or allow family members their own slot, a nice touch as well. One minor quirk that vexed me was the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a way to restart the game from within a profile after selecting a game type. Finally, as I mentioned earlier, players need to really pay attention to what is in an area. Some items are small, others may be partially obscured, so in an ideal world it might be nice to be able to zoom up an area for closer inspection. As it was, I thought the ability to select items was well done, and I rarely encountered trouble trying to grab an object.
The graphics are very good, and there are a LOT of items to comb through, so there is a healthy amount of replay value here. This is a great game to jump into during a lunch break for a quick day of picking, and long enough to spend a few hours with on a lazy afternoon.
What I Liked: Great graphics and sound effects; Clever interweaving of running a shop with Hidden Objects puzzle games; Character haggling adds more depth to the game
What Needs Improvement: Perhaps a longer game option due to the way areas unlock; Possibly add more randomness to start areas for even more game variety; Easy ability for a player profile to start a new game