Pickers HD could be one of the most addicting games I’ve played on my iPad this year, as this is the first time I have ever downloaded and started a new game with 100% battery power and five hours later have to force myself to stop playing when the battery finally got down to about 2%. Why is this “hidden object” game so addictive? Well, it is so much more than just your typical hidden object game for starters.
In Pickers you play as the owner of Rusted Gold, a pawn shop that buys hidden treasures, restores them, and hopefully resells them for a profit. The main game gives you 30 days (turns) to locate, barter, and buy sought-after items, then sell or auction those items to turn a profit and rise up through the leaderboards of other in-game pawn shop owners to claim the number one spot. Keep in mind this is not an online game and you are competing with computer opponents, which is about the only negative thing I have to say about Pickers. How cool would it have been to implement Game Center so you could compete with your friends?
Each day begins with your being told what the “hot item” is that day. It could be coins, it could be sports memorabilia, it could be clothing, kitchen appliances, car parts, or nautical treasures…you name it. You then hop in your white panel van and travel the US – or at least the regions you’ve unlocked so far to seek out and acquire these desired items. There are 12 destinations in all, each massively complex with several sub-sections all full of junk…which is certain to be someone else’s’ treasure.
You can only obtain 7 items per day, so you really need to choose what you keep wisely. In each area you’ll scan the detailed backgrounds, adding items to your inventory and probably tossing them back out when you find something better. There is usually one area in each map location where you can do a mini item-hint game that will not only reward you with bonus cash for finding all the items on the list, but also give you a free item that is usually relative to the day’s hot topic. Once you have found all the items you want in a location you then have to haggle with the owner. You can lowball them and they will counter offer and you can meet in the middle, but each time you pay them lower than their initial asking price you’ll lose some reputation points. Pay them their asking price and you can restore some good faith but lose some of your profit margin. If you are ever unsure about an item you can always pay a fee to ask an expert what the item is worth, but that also goes into your investment overhead.
Back at the shop you then get to scan your booty and set prices. Again, if you are unsure what to ask you can consult an expert on three items per day for a nominal fee. This can really save your bacon if you have a rare coin but don’t know its true value. Some items need to be restored to mint condition while other items need to be completed before you can sell them like records that need a jukebox or the rare salt shaker that need the pepper shaker to go with it or a lamp that needs a lampshade. Usually these paired items are in the same location but not always so keep an eye out.
Once you have priced all your items you open up the store and customers will either buy your stuff (meaning you probably priced it too low) or they will haggle. Never accept their first offer as you can almost always barter twice per item, but if you wait too long the “hotness” wears off the item and you will either have to lower the price and possibly sell at a loss or take your chances on an eBay-style auction. Repeat this process 30 times to complete the game and see where you stack up in profits with the rest of the fictitious pawn shop owners.
With so many reality shows out there like American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and American Restoration, it’s easy to see the appeal of this game, and the fact MumboJumbo was smart enough to attach it to a hidden-object puzzle game is sheer genius. The items in each location are static so you will undoubtedly see stuff you don’t need on day 2 but might be a hot item on day 22. The trick is to remember which location and in which screen at that location hides the prized item, so Pickers not only tests your awareness but also your memory.
A 30-day game will take you about 8 hours to finish. The game does get easier and faster the further into the month you get since your selection and available choices thins out considerably, plus, those cash bonus hidden object areas will eventually get tapped out and covered up. You’ll soon unlock the Unlimited Hidden Object mode that simply lets you pick your map location and play Pickers as a straightforward hidden object game without all the financial worries.
The graphics in Pickers are outstanding with each region featuring a very unique and themed environment ranging from the indoor storage level in the Southwest, the garage sale up in New England, a Kansas farmhouse, or a redneck junkyard down in Texas just to name a few. The level of complexity and detail in these backgrounds are amazing. A two-step visual hint tool with either show you the silhouette of the item you are looking for, or you can use a second-level hint to reveal the actual location within the scene. The interface is simple and a joy to work with, both in the store and on the road, and I love the character portraits and subtle facial animations that reveal their feelings about you.
There isn’t much in the way of sound or music aside from the opening them that sounds just like those shows on TV that inspired this game. Each scene has very faint music and subtle environmental noises specific to the location. This is one of those games where less is more when it comes to audio.
Pickers HD is $7; and no, you can’t haggle on the price. Yes, that seems like a lot but frankly, I’ve already gotten 7x the gameplay out of this game versus any .99 cent app I’ve purchased this year, plus keep in mind that a lot of these so-called free or $1 apps are usually locked down and require in-app purchases to explore their full potential. Pickers HD is complete and ready to run from day one.
You’ve seen all the shows – now experience the exciting world of discovery and the intense feeling of satisfaction when you pick up an item for a few bucks and turn it over for a few thousand. If you love hidden object games or are just the kind of person who hits up garage sales every weekend looking for lost treasures then Pickers HD was made for you. Who knew junk collecting could be this much fun?