The Trilogy Princess Isabella
The three titles need to be installed separately from a menu. Each title gives you the option of selecting the destination drive and folder to be used. While Witch’s Curse and Witch’s Curse 2 include an option to create a desktop icon, this does not apply with Rise of an Heir.
This game lets you adjust volume levels for music, sound effects and dialogue plus play in full screen with a custom cursor and an auto-pause feature. There is no choice of a difficulty level. Following a low quality, opening introduction animated sequence, the game begins in earnest as Princess Isabella, who is due to marry Prince Adam, arrives back at her palace to discover it has been cursed by an evil witch.
Fortunately assistance is at hand in the form of a friendly fairy. Initially the fairy can offer hints but latter she will develop abilities that cover smashing objects, blowing away dust, burning obstructions and adding water. These abilities can be selected from icons appearing around the fairy as she helps you to work through 135 scenes, 20+ puzzles and 15 mini-games plus over 20 Hidden Object scenes. Eight of the mini-games have a special feature in that, once completed in the main game, they are unlocked and can be replayed from the main title screen.
Also providing assistance is an array of tools positioned across the bottom of the screen when you are exploring scenes. A scrollable inventory, with chevrons at each end, will take up a central position. When you have more than a single items of an object, a small figure will indicate how many. On the left side is a menu option and the number of mirror pieces, to free members of the palace staff, you have in your current possession. A Quest Book, made up of sections for your journal, mirror room access and a map, sits on the right.
Following the spells cast by the witch, the various rooms in the palace and staff will need to be cleared of any evil influence and restored to their original condition. In the case of rooms, specific tasks, such as removing elements of evil from pictures or feeding ghosts their favourite food, will need to be completed. Rescuing palace staff involves collecting all the pieces of a mirror connected to the staff member and reforming the mirror. As each staff member is rescued, you will be provided with a clue to help you complete the game.
In order to complete certain tasks you will need to use a magic potion. These potions are created individually by removing coloured balls from a grid within the smallest number of moves. Taking too many moves will require the puzzles to be replayed.
Witch’s Curse 2
You get a similar choice of game playing options with Witch’s Curse 2. There is also a choice of normal or advanced difficulty level. There are various bonus items that include soundtracks and an extra chapter plus there are one or two other differences which I will cover at the appropriate point.
With this second title, the story has moved on a year as Princess Isabella is now married and is the mother of a baby daughter called Bella. Also making a return are the friendly fairy and the wicked witch. This time the witch steals the baby Bella and casts a spell over the whole of the kingdom.
Initially helped by the fairy, Princess Isabella sets out to free the kingdom from the evil spell while rescuing her daughter. Later in the game the fairy needs to depart and help her village. The fairy is replaced by a young dragon, named Nessie, who needs feeding in order to grow strong and develop abilities. The fairy does return later to provide help and give access to her abilities as Princess Isabella navigates the various scenes, solve puzzles and complete Hidden Object sessions.
Although starting in the palace, most of the action in this game takes place in the surrounding kingdom. Arranged across the bottom of the screen are tools consisting of Tasks, Strategy Guide, Inventory, Journal and map. Generally more movement between scenes was required and the quality of the graphics shown some improvement.
As with the earlier title, scenes need to be cleared of any evil influences by various methods. In each case a magic potion will be the reward for completing this task. Rather than pieces of a mirror, you will need to collect coloured gems that can be used to free members of the palace staff from the spell cast by the witch. I felt that this follow up title was more challenge than the original offering.
Rise of an Heir
The Rise of an Heir adds the option to select from difficulty levels governed by adjustable slider bars covering the speed at which Hints, Skip and Glint features make an appearance. Bonus items are made up of Concept Art, Video Gallery, extra chapter and Wallpaper. While the latter is available immediately, the other bonuses require the game to be completed first.
In this third episode matters have moved on apace and the lead is taken by the young Bella. Raised by the fairy and dragon, as her mother the Princess Isabella had been turned to stone, Bella needs to take control of her kingdom and defeat the witch. As you travel through the kingdom with your two companions, various tools are arranged across the bottom of the screen. Running from left to right are options for Menu, Hint, Inventory, Picture Pieces, Journal and Strategy Guide.
Able to communicate with creatures of the forest, Bella quickly learns that she will need to rescue her three godmothers who have fallen under the spell of the witch. Collecting the pieces of pictures and then reforming the pictures will release each of the godmothers. With the help of an owl, a magic wand is created to assist Bella with certain tasks. You will also need to be on the look out for sets of pan pipes with which you can command the dragon to carry out different tasks.
The lack of a map feature is a bit annoying as there is a lot of movement between scenes in order to complete tasks. The storyline with this third title was not as strong as the other two titles and there was more than one occasion when there was a lack of spoken dialogue even though dialogue text appeared on screen.
This trilogy of Princess Isabella titles requires a 1.8GHz processor with 768MB of RAM and 1900MB of hard disk space running Windows Vista and later.
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