Overall Score 87%
Treasure hunting is fun. Going around with a metal detector and a shovel, digging up any trace of metal, hoping for a rare coin or an ancient artefact, knowing that really it'll be a bottle cap or an ancient tin can. Actually, that doesn't sound like much fun at all - it sounds like hard work for little reward. What we need is a machine...
Enter the Treasure Machine! This superb invention features an extendable vacuum cleaner hose which can be guided round underground labyrinths and sucks up coins and other goodies. Since there are monsters down there, the end of the hose consists of a deadly claw - however, should monsters come into contact with the hose itself, it will be broken.
Your aim in Treasure Machine is to collect all of the coins on each level within the time limit. You score bonus points for killing monsters and collecting gems, and there are plenty of collectables that appear at random - potions that slow down the monsters, bonus points, keys to open doors, a gun attachment that shoots bullets from the end of the hose and more besides.
In typical Alawar style the graphics are smooth, clear and cartoony. Each zone has its own style and its own monsters. Little dotted trails in red and green show the route the hose will take to reach that point. The monsters, though all fairly simply animated, come in a huge variety and can be downright strange. And watch the facial expressions of the professor operating the machine!
Sound is plentiful - as well as coin grabbing clinks (and similar but different ones for gems) there's a neat alarm buzzer that goes off when a monster gets too close to your hose. There are different music tracks for the different zones too, all upbeat and in keeping with the style. The volume can be adjusted, of course.
Controls for Treasure Machine are delightfully simple. You click with the left mouse button at the point you want it to go, and it will extend to that point, sucking up any goodies in the way. The right mouse button retracts the claw, a useful emergency control if the monsters get too close. The pathfinding is pretty good but sometimes you may need to make several clicks to guide it along the correct route.
I don't know where to start with the playability. Quite apart from a control system so simple that any age group will pick it up in no time, there is no need to save games or play through in one sitting. All unlocked levels remain unlocked and can be replayed whenever you wish. There are a number of zones - including a tutorial - so you need not get stuck on one level. New bonus items and enemies are introduced slowly at the start of each level. Frankly, I'm hard pressed to say how this can be improved! Anyone finding the game too easy are advised to crank up the difficulty. I didn't last long on Hard mode.
Alawar seem to have a knack for producing games like this - well presented, light action pieces that allow you to have a few minutes of fun without committing to a twelve hour adventure. Suitable for almost all ages, yet able to provide a challenge to anyone, Treasure Machine is well worth a look and an absolute steal at this price.
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