Gamer Limit Banner

waldods1

I have to preface this review by saying that I’m a huge Where’s Waldo fan. Ever since I was in grade school, the thrill of finding some striped British dude amongst a rambunctious crowd was second to none.

Well, Waldo has been mysteriously absent from the video game scene for the past thirteen years. Can a simultaneous Wii, DS, and PC release suddenly make the old chap relevant again?

In a move that can only be expected by a book franchise turned into a game, as soon as you boot up The Fantastic Journey on the DS, you’re greeted with a very bare bones menu screen. “Solo Journey on Easy or Normal” and “Sound Options” are all you’re going to get.

My initial reaction to the game was underwhelming , but all of that changed when the game actually started. I was completely dumbfounded as at how authentic the entire in-game experience was. Scenes like the Water & Fire Monk War were more alive than ever, and not only does the game contain special intros for each picture, but a select amount of in-game sections are animated as well. Long story short, Waldo fans will love the amount of care that went into this title.

waldods2

Ok so it looks pretty, but what do you actually DO in a Where’s Waldo game other than find Waldo? Well, each level starts out requiring you to find not only Waldo, but Wenda, and Wizard Whitebeard in the entirety of one giant scene. Considering most of them span 20+ screens, it can definitely get challenging. After seeking the trio out however, all you have to do is find various objects and characters in smaller sections (5 or so screens).

If you are able to spot various dog bones in the picture, Waldo’s dog Woof can point you in the right direction, automatically showing you the screen in which your subject is hidden. What I really like about this system is that you have to earn your tips, rather than simply cheat whenever you want.

A word of warning: don’t buy the official book with the sole intention of cheating! One of the first things I did is bust out my book, only to find that a lot of the objects are added into the game, and Waldo isn’t in any of the same spots. Foiled again, Ubisoft!

While the meat of the game is found in the standard mode, where The Fantastic Journey exceeds is diversity. It would be safe to assume that the only mode this title would have is a “seek and find”, but Ubisoft has succeeded in mixing things up a bit. In addition to the typical book series fare (finding the crew, and magic scrolls), you’ll get Wanda’s picture find, Woof’s “picture difference” game, and even Oddlaw, Waldo’s rival, will hijack your level from time to time.

waldods3

Woof’s mode is very similar to the very popular tavern mini-game that presents you with two similar pictures, and tasks you with finding the subtle differences between them. Wanda’s game is a fairly unique take on the seek and find series, giving you photographs of certain sections that you have to find. In addition to these extra modes, Oddlaw will show up on occasion in the middle of a level, forcing you to find him or suffer the consequences of having to find extra mischievous Oddlaw themed animals (how cheeky!).

While the gameplay is fun, your money doesn’t go very far. I was able to complete the game 100% in around four hours, which isn’t particularly meaty for a $30 purchase. It was phenomenally disappointing to get all 180 stars, and receive nothing in return: not even an acknowledgment. In fact, one of the worst parts of the ending is that it includes a trailer for the next planned title: Where’s Waldo? In Hollywood, almost as if to taunt your lack of things to do post completion.

It’s a shame that The Fantastic Journey DS didn’t include any additional modes or an extra difficulty, because it really is a shining example of how to correctly resurrect an old property without selling out by way of shovelware. If you’re either a hardcore Where’s Waldo fan or a puzzle fanatic, you probably want to pick this one up: otherwise, wait for a price drop.

Rating Category
9.0 Presentation
The Fantastic Journey looks and feels exactly like Martin Handford's signature books. Fans will be extremely delighted to see their favorite scenes come to life through various in-game animations.
How does our scoring system work?
8.0 Gameplay
Waldo's Nintendo DS debut controls about as well as you'd expect for a seek and find game. Stylus precision is great, and you can conveniently scroll each picture with either the touch screen or d-pad.
7.0 Sound
While the music is fantastic and relevant to each level, you'll get sick of Wizard Whitebeard declaring the same three statements after successfully finding a clue.
3.0 Longevity
Where's Waldo's worst vice is it's horrid replay value. It took me about 4 hours to achieve a perfect 100% completion rate, and after getting every single star, I wasn't even given a notfication. Also, the only difficulty choices are "easy" and "normal".
7.0 Overall
Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey looks and feels like an authentic piece of Waldo merchandise; not throwaway shovelware. Fans of the book series will definitely want to have a go at it, but everyone else should steer clear due to the title's short length.

  1. Despite it’s short length, I think I’m going to pick this up for my girlfriend. She saw me reading this review and she got all excited.

    Hey, quick question. Who remembers the wheres waldo game for the NES? That was awesome. One of my favorite games as a kid.

  2. That NES Waldo game was TERRIBLE and made my eyes bleed. I rented it once and cried more than I do at onion-slicing time.

  3. @Chris M.
    Where’s Wally?

  4. Fun fact: the voice of Waldo on the Where’s Waldo TV series (Townsend Coleman) was also the voice of The Tick and Michelangelo on the TMNT animated series. True story! He was also in King’s Quest VI and Fraggle Rock. Nifty. And… he was American. :D But Martin Handford was British, so “Wally” probably was too.

  5. I still have my Where’s Wally books :P

  6. avatar Frederic Rodrigue

    Wow, I think this is a pretty good rating for a puzzle game. Well, except for the longevity obviously. But given the fact that the game was extremely restricted by the card size, it couldn’t have been otherwise. Besides, if you try the same quests just for one more time, you should see that all the searchables are randomly selected from a bank. For example: Waldo(or Wally) can be at five different spots on each map. (So even though it’s short, there’s a good deal of re-playability). If you’re curious on how I know all this, check the credits …

  7. @Frederic Rodrigue
    I replayed each map 3-4 times each to see if things changed much.

    First off, Woof’s “seek and find” quests are always 100% the same, as are Oddlaw’s. For the main quests, the scrolls were always in the same spot, and I only got two different items total, so the bank isn’t very big at all. Also, I don’t think size restriction was an issue, because the file size of Where’s Waldo: The Fantastic Journey DS is a fraction of what the DS card is capable of.

  8. avatar Dom2D

    Hey there, I’m the Lead Artist on Where’s Waldo : The Fantastic Journey. Just meant to say thanks for the great review, and we’ll try to fix those issues in the next game, Where’s Waldo in Hollywood.
    ^_^

  9. avatar hackervip

    Great story! I’d actually csaslify it under Simple as an example of using an analogy or metaphor (the hummingbird’s sippy cup ) to make communication more simple, leveraging something the audience (Carter) already knows.

Leave a Reply