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Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: G5 @ 1000 MHz    RAM: 512 MB

Coyote's Tale
July 1, 2009 | Ted Bade

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Coyote's Tale is a game that combines "find the items on the list in the picture" with other puzzle elements, surrounds them in an adventure to save the world from destruction, and does a fair job of it. It is fun, doesn't take itself too seriously, and can be a great way to pass the time.

Coyote is one form of the Trickster figure of Native American mythology. This hero wins his battles using his wit and tricking the enemy into doing something that makes them loose the challenge. The game makes use of Native American art, symbols, and mythological figures.

In the game, the main character, one of two sisters, is convinced to help Coyote's attempt to save the world. To do this you must interact with a variety of gods and solve their puzzles. Once you complete the puzzle, the god (or goddess) provides you with a magical item that helps with the quest.

In order to visit the realm of the gods, you must charge your staff. To do this you acquire the energy by locating items in various places in the Central/South American continent. So ensues a typical game of find the object, but with a definite South American mythology theme.

To play the search game you are provided with a list of items and a picture of some area. The items you are looking for are in the picture and you must locate them. Items are occluded in a variety of ways. First there is the sheer density of objects in the image. One needs to focus on one item to locate it amongst all the other things. Another way of hiding an object is for the artist to incorporate the object in the scenery in such a way that you are tricked into believing it is a normal part of the scenery. One can quickly go "cross-eyed" after staring at the screen too long.

This game provides some unique ways of making the search a bit easier. First of all, as with all these type of games, there is a way to get a hint. Here you acquire hearts as you progress through. When you click on a heart, one item on your list will be hi-lighted. To renew your supply of hearts, the images include flower disks. Collect five of them to renew an empty heart space. If you don't have a free heart space, an item will be hi-lighted when you find the fifth flower. Which means finding the flowers gives an additional hint. (A strategy I used is to locate the five flowers but to click on only four. Then search for items on the list. When you get stuck, click on the last flower to reveal that tricky item). Later in the game, there is a way to get additional flowers.

The list of items one needs to locate is shown as a list of words, which is typical for a game of this genre. Coyote's Tale adds a very nice feature of allowing one to view the list as a series of object images. So instead of showing the word "frog" is shows an image of the particular frog you are looking for. I found using this method made finding the objects significantly easier. Sometimes one runs into a word that is only vaguely familiar or can have a variety of forms. Other times the word can have different meanings, so you needs to consider all meanings of the word and all the ways an object can be represented in a picture. (for instance the word "bat"). Using the image list method, you actually see the item you are supposed to find. I almost felt like I was cheating using this method.

Once you have completed the required sets of, find the objects, you can then proceed to whatever task the god you are interacting with requires. Each task is a different puzzle. A couple examples include the classic scenario: You have three rabbits and three coyotes. You need to move them across a river. Only two animals on the raft at a time. If the number of coyotes is more then that of the rabbits, the rabbits die and you try again. Other examples include a Simon-like memory game, a 20 piece puzzle, and one of those games where you slide pieces of a disorganized picture around to reform it. There are also a few puzzles I hadn't seen before. When you complete the task, the god or goddess gives you some item you need in your quest to save the world. There are a number of these tasks. If you find one to be just too difficult, you can skip it and continue onward.

There are both a timed and non-timed mode of play. In the timed mode, you must complete your object searches before the clock runs out. Clicking one a wrong item causes time to be lost from the clock. In the non timed mode, you just take your time, and enjoy the images without the stress of trying to complete them before the clock runs out. I spent most of my time in this mode.

The graphics in this game vary. While you are interacting with Coyote or any of the gods in the story, the images are cartoons. This makes sense, since, other then the heroines of the game, all the other players are mythological. When you play search for items, the backgrounds of the images are mostly photo-realistic. Most of the images include some motion graphics, such as a fire burning, (with sparks flying), or water lapping on the shore. Sometimes these motion graphics can be distracting, which I am sure, is part of the game. Take a look at some of the screen shots to get a feel for the images in this game. Overall I enjyed the images and the Native American motif.

In the sound department, the characters speak their parts (and the text of their speech is on the screen in cartoon bubbles). The game areas have some form of back ground sounds, which go with the scene. For instance, that sparking fire also include the sounds one associates with a camp fire, as well as critters in the background of sound. There is a background music theme, which is pleasant, but it can become a bit repetitive.

Overall I liked this game. It is a fun combination of several different puzzle types. I found it enjoyable enough to keep me coming back to play. The fun story line, moderately challenging puzzles, and the fact that it is a non-violent game, make this a great choice if you are looking for something mild to give your children or even yourself. Definitely take a look at this one.

Coyote's Tale
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