Free Game of the Day, 8/9/12: Amazon’s Living Classics Bridges the Old and the New

Thu, Aug 9, 2012

Facebook, Free-to-Play, Frisky Misc, Social

As Frisky Mongoose reported on Tuesday, online retail behemoth Amazon has made its first lumbering steps into the world of video game development. Now that the dust has settled on the out-of-nowhere announcement, the world can sit back and soak in the game itself.

Whether to its benefit or detriment, Living Classics will almost certainly draw most of its attention for academic reasons. Even if the game was a hackneyed farm-simulator or a cookie-cutter shooter, it would be the first of its kind in at least one respect: it was made by one of the biggest companies in the world, a household name with no experience in game development. What’s more, Amazon chose to release it on Facebook. That definitely says something about the low-risk, maximum-exposure opportunities that social gaming now presents.

But what of the game itself? On the surface, Living Classics is a bit like the fairytales that it so explicitly invokes — oozing with charm, but littered with trite repetition. It’s essentially a spin on the tried and true hidden-object genre, tasking players with pixel-hunts across classic tales like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and King Arthur. The only twist is that the objects in question aren’t hidden at all, but moving ever so slightly. Track down all the billowing clouds and wriggling worms within the time limit, and you’ll get a nifty bonus.

That little quirk amps up the pace of the game tremendously, but Living Classics remains simple and familiar at the edges. As attractive as the full-screen artwork can be, the most interesting pieces must be unlocked with in-game currency, which either can be earned through vapid repetition or (as Amazon hopes) purchased with real-world money. If you go on a clicking binge, you’ll have to recruit friends for more energy. Click, share, repeat. Innovation, this is not.

Even so, Amazon claims that Living Classics is the first game of its kind. Ever, that is. On some level, it’s actually tempting to agree: the subtle twist on an old genre is a clever one.  Amazon isn’t likely to keep that trend at 100 percent with its future games, but everyone would benefit from seeing them try.

You can play Living Classics via Facebook.

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