REVIEW: Treasure World

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As Willy will quickly point out to you, this is not a game.  For all I know, this was your first impression too, since it looks and sounds for all the world like some budget shovelware game.  And to be fair, Treasure World isn’t for most people.  It appeals to a very specific type of person.  The person who has to catch ’em all.  The person who played Animal Crossing every day for a year hoping to complete their catalog, thinking that maybe next time Crazy Red will sell an authentic painting.  The person who sits in front of a walkthrough when playing an RPG because, well, wouldn’t it suck if you missed something?

For that person, this game is a unique type of pleasure that is unparalleled in any other game.

The plot of the game is that the Star Sweep crashes on Earth with his little robot, the Wish Finder, and you have to help him find 1,000 stars in order to launch his ship back into space. Except you don’t find stars in the game itself. You do very little except organize stuff in the game itself. You find stars by asking the Wish Finder to watch the skies, putting the DS in your pocket, and walking around in the real world for a while. The “stars” in the game are WiFi signals, and there are a lot more of them out there than you think. On one hand, I live in Chicago. But on the other hand, walking around one block in my residential neighborhood netted me around 40 stars. My drive to and from work netted me around 200. And I got the final 800 with a leisurely drive through the city.

When you get the stars, sometimes they are “stardust” and sometimes they are items. Stardust is later sold as currency to the Star Sweep in order to buy items, so either way you get something. The items are a copious catalog of thousands of items such as mix-and-match outfits for your Wish Finder robot, different skin tones, hair styles, eyes nose mouth, and dozens and dozens of movement patterns.

It’s also worth mentioning that there is an in-game checklist for every item, and it pays to follow the checklist since completing each “set” rewards you with a special item. There are also fun little gauntlets following the checklist let you run. For instance, in order to complete a Business Attire set, you have to complete a Poodle Girl set, but first you have to complete a Flapper Girl set, which in order to complete you have to complete a Victorian Woman set… there may or may not be a Renaissance set, but the next step is Cavegirl set, which in order to complete, you have to buy all the Monkey Set items. I laughed out loud at the progression when it finally reached the end.

Now the Wish Finder roams around in a little patch of grass that you can also decorate with things like seasonal changes, shrubbery, musical instruments, and any number of other items (much like your house in Animal Crossing, except it’s a yard instead of a house). The catch is that not only can you lay them out to look pretty, but you can make “songscapes.” Each item makes a unique noise, and you can arrange items to compose songs. Any song. There are so many items and play speeds that you will have no problems making any song you could possibly want.

What do you do with these songs, then? How do you get some if you can’t compose music yourself? Well, interface the game with http://www.clubtreasureworld.com. There’s a pretty advanced online community there, and you get your own profile page that rewards you (a bit lamely, admittedly) with prizes for collecting in-game keys and has a bunch of puzzles you can solve by arranging your yard in different ways. They also have a little flash applet that shows everyone what your yard looks like in game, and your avatar in the community is your in-game Wish Finder.

But aside from buying items from the Wish Finder with your stars, outfitting your Wish Finder, and designing your landscape, the majority of the game is “played” in the real world. It encourages you to go out to places you wouldn’t normally go and bring your DS. The game will only recognize the WiFi signals one time only, so taking walks or drives to neighborhoods and areas you wouldn’t go is mandatory. That’s the best gift any game can give you, really, and I am still marveling over the fact that you play it by going out and discovering new places in your neighborhood. That’s the best gift any game can give you. It’s truly amazing.

It only took me a couple days to get 1,000 stars for the Wish Finder, but once the credits roll and a sad scene plays, the game continues. I still haven’t found all the treasures. But I will.

The appeal is limited, admittedly, but even those who aren’t interested in stuff like this have to admit that this has some pretty ingenious and advanced gameplay mechanics. I’ve had it for a month, and save for the couple times the DS ran out of batteries at work (I still use a Phat, and its battery life is now nil, especially with the WiFi search on), my DS hasn’t been powered off in over a month.

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