The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths (3DS eShop) Review
- Puzzles are short and sweet
- Fun and challenging
Not so much?
- No 3D
- Gets a little repetitive after awhile
- $15 seems a little high for the price
The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths is an action/adventure puzzle game for the 3DS, based on the early-80s anime. Does anybody but me remember it?
I have to give Nintendo some credit — or maybe the credit should to the developer Neko Entertainment or the publisher Ynnis Interactive — for making the game The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths which was based on an lesser-known early-80s Japanese anime series that only ran for a year that even I barely remember (and I’m an old guy).
The Mysterious Cities of Gold is a Japanese animated series spanning 39 episodes that started in June of 1982 and ending a year later in June of 1983. The series followed three children: Esteban, Zia, and Tao during the 16th century who meet up and become friends during a journey from Spain to the New World Americas, that turns into a quest to find the seven Cities of Gold.
I recall watching reruns of the cartoon during weekday morning in the late 80s, while eating breakfast and waiting for the school bus to arrive. Little about the show remained in my head, outside of the catchy theme song, but as I began playing the game on my 3DS XL, that portion of the brain that stores all of the long forgotten or useless information, suddenly started reawakening memories from — GULP — 25 years ago!
To start off with, The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths, which I will shorten to an more simple Secret Paths for the rest of this review, is available for the 3DS (and Wii U) as a download via the Nintendo eShop at the current cost of $14.99. The review was provided to Games Fiends via a redeemable coupon code.
I don’t mean to start off harping on the negatives, but first impressions are everything, and I was a little dismayed when I first began the game and realized that Secret Paths did not take advantage of the 3DS’s 3D functionality. Despite the position of the 3D slider, you will receive NONE of the 3D visual benefits. I personally, like to use the system’s 3D, even though I usually have it set at the lowest level, where its effect is more subtle and I’m less susceptible to losing focus if I look away from the system for a moment. I understand that implementing 3D features is likely a huge task, and for smaller titles like Secret Cities, which felt very much like a game that could be released for Android and Apple tablets, featuring it didn’t really make sense.
In addition to not implementing 3D on the top screen, the game plays out entirely on the bottom screen, with information for the player being displayed on the top screen. This is unusual, especially when compared to traditional 3DS and DS games. After playing a few levels it really started to feel like like the developer ported the game over from Wii U to 3DS hardware, but didn’t go a whole lot further when it came to fine tuning to take advantage of the 3DS’s features.
Outside of that visual gripe, the game itself is a fun action/adventure puzzle game where your goal is to get to the end of each level by switching between the three main characters, Esteban, Zia, and Tao, to reach the objective.
In some instances, you’ll swap between the three friends to accomplish simple tasks like opening locked doors by stepping on pressure plates on the ground or flipping switches on other sides of the level, but for other slightly more complex situations, you’ll need to select a specific character to use their special power to proceed.
Esteban has the ability to activate sun switches, Tao can translate secret messages and steal keys with the help of his parrot compadre Kokapetl, and Zia is small enough to squeeze through small gaps in walls that the other two cannot.
As the levels progress, the solution becomes more challenging, and additional obstacles are introduced, like patrolling enemies that need to be avoided.
For the most part, Secret Path’s 30 levels offered a decent challenge for me, but mileage may differ depending on the age of the player. Generally, the titles in the eShop aim toward a younger demographic. Reading is a requirement to fully enjoy the game and solve puzzles. Patience is also required, in later challenges. This is probably a good game for kids 8 years of age and up, but anybody younger may find it slow and boring.
Secret Paths also felt a little repetitive in later levels, as level sizes increased in size and complexity but the goals, and the ways to achieve them, remained the same.
Overall, I enjoyed the game, but I have a hard time recommending it, especially at its current cost. For a $15 game, it really doesn’t really feel like a lot of effort was put into getting the Wii U version to run on a 3DS. There is no 3D option, and the game is played on the bottom screen rather than the top.
Knowing that similar style puzzle games are available for a fraction of the cost — if not free — for Apple and Android devices, $15 seems a bit overpriced. In fact, Secret Paths seems ideally suited to be played on an iPad validating my feelings even more about the cost vs. lack of features.
That being said, if you like puzzle games, and don’t feel that $15 is an unreasonable cost for digital games, The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths is a fun, challenging game. Plus for an old man like me, who remembers watching The Mysterious Cities of Gold TV series as a child, it was a nice nostalgic trip down memory lane.