Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Like all good mysteries, MillionHeir starts well, promising to be a cross between Miss Marple and classic DS legal text adventure series Phoenix Wright. You’re excited by what could be. After all, the Mystery Case Files games have been a huge hit on PC and Mac.

So let’s start the investigation...

That story revolves around the disappearance of a millionaire named Phil T. Rich. You've been handed the responsibility of tracking him down, which involves investigating 12 witnesses.

For some bizarre and slightly bonkers reason, you don’t do this by talking to them, or even searching their homes for evidence.

Instead, you have to find lists of random objects hidden among screens full of hundreds of other random objects, then completing a mini-game - perhaps slotting together a jigsaw or a completing a spot-the-difference.

These objects are hidden across multiple levels - each one begins with what reads like the shopping list you might take along to your local landfill. Then it's a case of finding each item amongst the piles of stuff shown on the screen and tapping on it with your stylus (the DS top screen shows the whole scene, while the touchscreen below lets you zoom in and scroll about).

The game lets you tap the screen as many times as you like, so if you select the wrong item, it doesn't register. Of course, this presents an unfortunate problem, as it’s possible to rub the stylus all over the screen until you 'find' what you're looking for.

Admittedly, even on the harder difficulty level - which comes with time limits and a limited number of hints - you shouldn’t get so stuck or frustrated that you’re tempted into such underhand tactics. From that point of view at least, the game is overly easy.

Still, when trying to make out a fish bone in an over-crowded and not always entirely clear jumble of crap becomes too tedious, it is a tempting escape route.

Thankfully, MillionHeir does have a few tricks up its sleeve to ensure it’s more than a touchscreen object hunt. For instance, there are four detective tools which you unlock as you play.

There’s a torch, which lets you hunt in dark places; an X-ray, which lets you see behind and inside objects; a super straw, which lets you blow things out of the way (blowing into the DS microphone); and goggles, which let you see hidden underwater objects.

Slightly more variation is provided by some of the objects. For example, a 'chicken and egg' means you need to find both of them, then draw a line from one to the other.

There are also items that need filling in or rotating using the stylus. It adds a tiny bit more spice, but not to the game’s difficulty levels, which stay resolutely easy from start to finish.

That being the case, it seems MillionHeir is strictly one for DS owners who have played all the Brain Training games and want something different to tide them over between Countdown and The Archers.

For the average gamer, the only part of the experience that will present a challenge is the multiplayer head-to-head item hunting game (for up to four players) since it puts you up against something more difficult than a 15 minute time limit (of which you'll use about four minutes; or two if you use the hints).

But even for its supposed target audience, it’s hard to see how MillionHeir delivers lasting appeal. The only elements of the game that deliver are the slick, occasionally atmospheric presentation and the mini-games.

Some thought has clearly been spent on the latter and although they're too easy, they’re also good enough to leave you wishing they were more numerous.

Sadly then, Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir isn’t a game for fans of Phoenix Wright, while sharp-witted Miss Marples will probably prefer to stick to The Times crossword. Grey-haired fans of Where’s Wally? may find something to interest them, but we’d recommend you check out the far superior (and funny) Professor Layton DS games instead.

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Despite appearing to be a story-driven detective game, Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir is a simple puzzler that isn't interesting enough to hold anyone's attention
Kath Brice
Kath Brice
Kath gave up a job working with animals five years ago to join the world of video game journalism, which now sees her running our DS section. With so many male work colleagues, many have asked if she notices any difference.