James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Games of Passion (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)
June 3, 2012 by Dennis Amith
The fourth video game in the “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club” video game series makes its debut on the Nintendo DS but unfortunately developers made this game too easy for its own good. While dedicated fans will probably play the game to follow the members of the “Women’s Murder Club”, those expecting gameplay and hidden object/puzzle challenges similar to its PC counterpart will be disappointed.
VIDEO GAME TITLE: James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Games of Passion
YEAR OF INITIAL RELEASE: 2009
VIDEO GAME GENRE: Hidden Objects/Puzzles
MEDIA: Nintendo DS
MEDIUM REQUIREMENTS: Nintendo DS, DSi, DSiXL
RATINGS: T for Teen
RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2009
VIDEO GAME HIGHLIGHTS:
A string of murders, seemingly unrelated, unfold before Lindsay and the gang. Beautiful women go missing and turn up dead around every corner leading to an exciting climax involving the least likely of suspects.Play as Lindsay, Claire and Cindy in this thrilling adventure to solve the mystery and catch the killers.
With three video games from the “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club” having been released on PC and as there is continuing demand for more casual games, specifically hidden objects games for the portable consoles, THQ released “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Games of Passion” for the Nintendo DS.
So, what is “Women’s Murder Club”?
In 2002, James Patterson released his first “Women’s Murder Club” novel “1st to Die” and since then created a total of eleven novels as of 2012. The novels feature homicide cases and four women who have a group known as “Women’s Murder Club” who work together to solve each murder mystery.
The main protagonist is Inspector Lindsay Boxer who investigates various homicide cases and is aided by her friends Deputy District Attorney Jill Bernhardt (who tries to keep Lindsay within the law and issues the search warrants), Dr. Claire Washburn (who works in the forensics lab) and Cindy Thomas, a journalist at the San Francisco Bee. Note: It’s important to note that for “Games of Passion”, Deputy District Attorney Jill Bernhardt is no longer featured and has been replaced by Yuki Castellano.
In 2007, a ten episode drama series based on the characters aired on ABC and with the popularity of the novels and drama series, hidden objects games were released on the PC/Mac and the Nintendo DS.
For the PC and Mac, a trio of hidden objects games were released: “Death in Scarlet” (2008), “Darker Shade of Grey” (2009) and “Twice in the Blue Moon” (2009) and each were collected in a triple pack titled “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club Collection” in 2010.
While each game revolves around homicide cases, the fourth game “Games of Passion” has similarities to the first game “Death in Scarlet” and features more activity from Inspector Warren Jacobi and also Inspector Lindsay Boxer has a new partner named Ryan Silver.
“Games of Passion” begins near the Golden Gate Bridge where a woman can be seen falling over a boat, screaming.
Early in the morning, Inspector Lindsay Boxer receives a call about a homicide and Chinese letters etched on her. As Lindsay tries to look into the murder of the woman, a man drinking some coffee at the park is mysteriously murdered. Another homicide has taken place and Lindsay is once again checks out the second homicide.
More homicides are taking place around the city and now Lindsay with the help of her friends at the Women’s Murder Club must work together and find out who is responsible before another homicide happens in the city!
“James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Games of Passion” is a hidden objects and puzzle game specifically made for the Nintendo DS. Hidden objects games are best played on the Nintendo DSI XL due to its bigger screen but for those with any version of the DS, the game is played by holding it by the side (like a book). Using your stylus, you are given a list of hidden objects to find and you click on the hidden objects.
There are puzzles involved which involve turning objects or sliding objects to form an image or other types of puzzles that are much different than its PC counterpart. If anything, developers did a good job of trying to make the hidden objects visible for the DS/DSi/DSi XL and using the DS windows/touch pad much more convenient to find hidden objects and partake in puzzles.
In fact, I will say that aside from one puzzle in the game, “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Games of Passion” is too easy and is recommended primarily for those who are new to hidden object games (HoG). If I rate the hidden objects game from 1 being the easiest, 3 as average and 5 as difficult, this game would be a 2 or maybe a 1.5. I was finding objects way too easy and this is a common theme with “Women’s Murder Club” games but this one was too easy. The puzzles were not difficult at all and for Dr. Claire Washburn, the whole bottle organization to isolating the blood has been replaced by these color-based objects that is just too easy that I was surprised. Washburn puzzles tend to be my pet peeve because they are either too redundant or too challenging, but now…it’s too easy.
There is no penalty for overclicking and there are hints, but you are limited to three per chapter. There is no solve button for the puzzles.
As for the puzzles, there is no doubt that THQ was going for a younger demographic. Because of its easy difficulty but this is the first “Women’s Murder Club” where journalist Cindy Thomas does not have much to do. In previous games, she would get her information by visiting bars and playing a wordplay game. Not for this game… Cindy does have one hidden objects scene but if anything, “Games of Passion” is heavily focused on Lindsay Boxer.
There was one game which involves a sliding puzzle that probably took me about 30 minutes, but other than that… I was blazing through the hidden objects games and puzzles quite easily and I finished the game probably in less than three hours.
The graphics for “Games of Passion” is quite interesting because these characters never look the same in each game. I would say that the first two games on the PC were more cartoon/comic book-style in presentation but “Games of Passion” is painted during the cut scenes. And unlike the conversation cut scenes, this time you read the dialogue and they are interactive (as the members try to retrace Lindsay’s case in order to get more clues or developers wanted to rehash what you have found earlier in the chapter for added gameplay).
But graphics are good but I will say that I liked how they designed Cindy Thomas for this game, while I prefer Lindsay and Claire’s character designs from the third game, “Twice in a Blue Moon” much more.
The music for “Games of Passion” has a similar style to previous games but like most hidden object games, the music is forgettable as you are more focused on solving the cases than listening to the music.
There isn’t much of a replay value unless you want to replay the mahjong game or do a “Create your mystery” using the DSi or DSi XL camera. You must take pictures using the camera on your DSi/DSi XL first and then you can create your own WMC mystery game.
While I do enjoy the “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club” games for its storyline and its characters, I’ve noticed that hidden objects games for the Nintendo DS tend to be dumbed down a bit. May it be that developers want to cater to beginners to hidden object games but developers should have considered an easy or hard mode (like some games have for the PC/Mac versions of a HoG game) and put a little more time into it.
With the release of “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Twice in a Blue Moon”, the developers did a fantastic job with the hidden objects and puzzles and made an awesome game! With this fourth game, granted it was made for the Nintendo DS but gameplay was too easy for its own good. People want to get their money’s worth and I surely would have been upset if I paid over $20 for this game for three hours of easy gameplay.
Fortunately, you can find this game online for a cheap price and for me, it was a must play game because I figured, I played the first three games on PC, might as well play the fourth game and see where the adventures of the Women’s Murder Club goes with this latest game.
So, while the gameplay was too easy, as for the storyline, it was good but there were a lot of things that made me question the storyline. For one, what happened to Jill Bernhardt? Is the new character Yuki a Deputy District Attorney? Why is Ryan Silver a partner of Lindsay Boxer, this character is lazy and is always out eating while Lindsay is doing all the work.
Also, most WMC games tend to emphasize the ability to play Lindsay, Cindy and Claire but they really shortened any games or puzzles that featured Cindy or Claire.
In the end, I’m not going to complain too much about this game since I bought it online for under $6 but if I paid over $15-$20, I would be disappointed because it was too easy and as for the ending, talk about a game that was too simplified and not a great way to end it. And almost reminded me how I felt about the first WMC game and its ending.
For “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Games of Passion”, I give it a RATING: C-
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