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It’s Kooky Review


Dr. Seuss wrote a book called Wacky Wednesday, and it’s getting dog-eared in our house. On the first couple of pages, there are one or two things that are out of place. A plant pot has been replaced with a boot; a lady has three legs; a mirror is showing no reflection. But as the book progresses, Dr Seuss drops any pretense to subtlety and fills every scene with dogs walking humans by a leash, women in baby carriages, and more. My kids and I love to compete on how many wacky things we’ve seen. I might say fifteen, but they saw sixteen. 

When we found out about It’s Kooky, we were ready to fight for it. The boxing gloves were on. Because It’s Kooky is ‘Wacky Wednesday: The Game’, a hidden object title where there’s no shopping list of items to find; instead, the scene is full of errors, objects that are skew-whiff, wacky elements that shouldn’t be there. It’s Where’s Wally?, but Wally is replaced with flying walruses. 

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There are thirteen scenes in It’s Kooky, and they cover ever-so-sensible situations like the terminal of an airport, a train station and a beach. These are dioramas where you are zoomed out to a Where’s Wally? degree, but you have the LB and RB buttons to swoosh in and out if you want more detail. 

Each scene has a pre-defined number of ‘Kooks’ to spot, with roughly half of the levels having a time-limit, and the others being more relaxed. So, you’re scanning the canvas (systematically, if you’re like us, in horizontal sweeps to ensure nothing is missed), and tapping A on anything that looks out-of-place. A vampire on the train platform? Nah mate. A palm tree underwater? Circle that bad-boy. 

Almost every scene went the same way. We’d do a complete sweep and then panic, as we had one or two Kooks to find. In a progression sense, it’s not necessary to find every unwanted item in a scene. You can move to the next level as long as you spot enough of them. But we’re obsessives and can’t help ourselves – a behaviour that isn’t helped by an achievement popping only once you find everything. 

Luckily, there’s a helping hand in the form of a hint. You get one per level and, to unlock it, you will need to find a lightbulb that is cunningly placed at random in the scene. This is harder than it sounds, as – at least in our case – we found them to be more difficult to spot. With our kids trying to play, a single hint that had to be found first (harder than it sounds) was a bit measly. 

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But you can memorise the Kooks and play the level multiple times with no punishment, so patience gets you everywhere. Although, we did replay the Airport level six or seven times, hunting for the final Kook, and finding ourselves to be ‘hint-blind’: completely unable to spot the hint lightbulb. The level wasn’t a rage-quitter, but we wondered if there was a better system to support our ineptitude. 

Really, it should be stupendously easy to spot all the weirdnesses and plough through the game. About 95% of the time that’s true. It’s totally possible to cruise through a level with nary a hint, completing it in less than the 200 seconds that you might have been given. It’s so frictionless and easy, in fact, that we finished It’s Kooky in an hour, which leads to conversations about value and how much you should expect from a game of this type.

It’s Kooky, if we’re being honest, could have helped a bit more on the longevity front. Even a Where’s Wally book has a list of ‘extras’ to find, which keeps you engaging with it long after you’ve found Wally. But It’s Kooky is one and done. Find the sore-thumbs and the scene is done forevermore. You can’t play levels multiplayer, chase for highscores, search for all the fish in the scene or anything like that. It’s a lapse that games like Geometric Sniper have previously anticipated and addressed.

The remaining 5%, the Kooks that are hard to spot, were often down to us being dumb, and not realising that butterflies shouldn’t be in the ocean, or other face-palms like that. But we didn’t always feel like the problem was on our end. There are weirdnesses that the game doesn’t acknowledge: a rollercoaster ends on a precipice, for example, or a tree looks like a lollipop. Presumably, those are all part of the art design. Equally, the art is sketchy enough to make some Kooks unclear. There might be a chick in a woman’s hair, but you’re only going to spot it if you’re straining hard enough to give yourself a hernia. 

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So, It’s Kooky is an hour or two of play (ideally with others in attendance, shouting and pointing at the screen), and that time isn’t issue-free. Hints, precision and longevity are all flashing, bright problems that we wanted to highlight with the cursor. But there’s enough in that fun little premise and the short lifespan to mean that we didn’t regret playing It’s Kooky, not one bit.

Most of that’s down to the premise. We’ve played more hidden object games than we care to shake a stick at, and there’s something arbitrary and joyless about wandering up to a scene with a shopping list in hand. I need a wrench; there’s a wrench. It breaks us out of our immersion, and is hardly a rollicking good time. 

In It’s Kooky, you don’t know what you’re going to find. All you know is that it will fit under the umbrella of ‘weird crap’, and spotting said weird crap is good fun. It’s fun because the artist has enough imagination to make them fun and unexpected; and it’s fun because the odd weirdness is often subtly off-kilter. Untangling your brain matter and realising that yes, there shouldn’t be a human in a vending machine, is rather jolly. As mentioned, this is all amplified with a party in tow, and you can make a fun – if short – game of Spot the Difference. 

Hidden object games can be so sensible. And with a shopping list of items to find, they can be on the boring side, too. Thank the heavens for It’s Kooky, which doesn’t tell you what to look for, and instead insists that you rid scenes of the weird and wacky. The art could have been clearer, and it desperately needs reasons for replay, but It’s Kooky makes hidden object gaming into a fun party game, made all the better when you have several people playing at once. 

You can buy It’s Kooky from the Xbox Store

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