Firstly, let me state that Cooroora is not an adventure game. If you are looking for the follow up adventure game by Mulawa Dreaming (a.k.a. Peter Hewitt) to Xiama,Magnetic, and Magicama, you had best not proceed in this review. Its subtitle is “a way with words” and that completely summarizes the nature of this game.
Cooroora is a “casual game”. It involves some minor adventure game elements, such as finding the laptop to play one of twenty-four word games but essentially this is twenty-four word games that you can play in competition with your friends to beat their maximum score. Incidentally, the maximum score is 2400 (100 per game reflecting your success as a percentage). I scored 1855. There are multiple levels and successive “rounds” so if you really like a certain type of game there are plenty of opportunities to replay. Depending on your success on a given task, you will be awarded gold, silver, or bronze in each event. Note that your score is based on your first attempt in any given event.
At this point, I should digress. As with the previous two Mulawa Dreaming titles I’ve played (Xiama and Magnetic) this game has stunning photography. Only this time, Peter has made 360-degree panoramic shots of some of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. These shots are STUNNING. And for those of you who haven’t been to Australia, these shots are typical of the beauty that exists in Australia-well worth a look! And speaking of tourism, I wonder if Peter is collecting any kind of fee from the Queensland tourist board… Not only does his game promote the Sunshine Coast and Queens land as a whole, this time he actually shows some of the potential tourist destinations in sleepy towns around this area. Check out the screenshots to see I’d need more than a thousand words to do justice to his images.
Every player in the game chooses a “country” at the beginning of the game. It’s just a single-player game but this allows multiple players to play the game and compare scores. Choosing the country removes the need to save as every consequence is saved to that particular country automatically.
Strangely, I noted very little in the way of sound. Yes, there are fireworks when you succeed on any given task with 100% accuracy but surprisingly, despite being in setting full of bushland, the beach, and rivers, there is almost no incidental noise. Peter could have used sounds he’d used in earlier game to add to the realism and I recommend he does this in future for a more immersive effect.
For anyone who enjoys word games, there are days and day’s worth of cerebral challenges. Although there is a scoring component, a keen word buff can ignore scores in favor of just enjoying numerous sets of word and letter puzzles. In some of the puzzles, there is almost unlimited replayability.
As always Peter Hewitt is readily contactable for technical support (firstname.lastname@example.org) but is found closer to hand as well in the game. Each challenge has an assistance icon (Peter’s smiling face!) in the lower left-hand corner. Hovering the cursor over this icon provides written instructions for the appropriate challenge. There is a FAQ page that contains solutions to a handful of problems players might encounter. The solutions are in plain English, highly appropriate considering that as this game is family-friendly many potential players are not likely to be computer wizards. Although not up at the time of writing this review, there will a Cooroora forum in the near future.
The game can be purchased from the Mulawa Dreaming website for $17.00 (U.S.) through PayPal. It is a hefty 266MB download. There is a demo on the site (38MB), which will give potential buyers a good idea of the type of game it is through three sample puzzles. There is also a patch on the site for a rarely experienced error with one of the puzzles.
I found this game very slow and to completing the challenge (all 24 puzzles) didn’t take long. I couldn’t see myself playing other sets of individual puzzles. Perhaps I was somewhat jaded because I entered into playing it with the preconception that it was an adventure game. My eight-year old son (who loves word games and puzzles) thought it was great but a little too challenging-some of the target words most individuals would not be in the vocabulary of most people. I give this a score of C but the word-enthused casual gamer could stretch that to a B.
Final Grade: C