If you look at EA’s track record, there is one recurring theme: major franchises. This doesn’t come as a surprise and often turns out to be beneficial for everyone, but it keeps the company from creating unique and original titles specifically for the iPhone. Mystery Mania, which combines a compelling story and logic puzzles, is one of the first signs that the tides may be turning.
In Mystery Mania you play as F8, a robot prototype who must make his way through a creepy mansion in order to save a lost professor. Along the way you meet F1, who will help you recover your memories (portrayed in cutscenes) as you help it get back its lost gears. We won’t spoil the story, but we will say that it was interesting enough to keep us pushing along.
Feed me, Seymour!
Every room you enter is a new puzzle, some of which have special interactions or multiple solutions to enter different rooms. The goal is to complete the challenge by guiding F8 to a plethora of interactive objects. Some of the solutions are quite obscure, such as throwing dynamite into a Venus Flytrap’s mouth and then using a large magnet to transport you across the room. Other times you must recreate patterns, distract a ferocious dog, or redirect steam from a stove, and that isn’t even the half of it.
The game only lasts around three hours with about 30 puzzles, though. Also, extremely linear progression gives the game no true replay value. Achievements that call for completing odd tasks will add a little extra play time for some, but don’t count on them to create a new experience the second time around.
Don’t try this at home.
Graphically, Mystery Mania is totally unique and filled with personality. F8’s TV head will show silly images that relate to his emotions, and every character has their own little quirk that keeps things fresh. The modernized art is interesting throughout.
Although the controls are not as important when dealing with a slow-paced puzzler like this, we felt that the slow response times took away from the overall polish of the game. It definitely isn’t a deal breaker, but it did slow down the game.
While it lasts, Mystery Mania is an exceptional and original puzzler. We hope that EA continues on with this franchise and starts a trend of iPhone-specific titles.