Aspyr’s Treasure World is certainly something else. I’m hesitant to call it a game. It’s really more an application that encourages owners to get out and explore their environment in the hopes of discovering and unlocking new items and rewards from passing Wi-Fi signals. That, and there’s a pretty nifty music creator comparable to the one found in Mario Paint.
Wi-Fi signals are a lot like stars. At least, that’s what the Star Sweeper says. He and the Wish Finder robot go around cleaning stars, and power their ship, the Halley, with the stardust from said stars. Except the Halley ran out of fuel, so they’re temporarily stranded. The player is tasked with getting the Star Sweeper and the Wish Finder back to work. You go around with your DS on, finding passing Wi-Fi signals and collecting stardust.
There’s something in it for the player too. As you collect stardust, you’ll also occasionally collect rare items and treasures. Plus, when you trade in stardust to the Star Sweeper, he’ll give you rare items. So it’s a win-win situation. Since there are loads of items to find, chances are the game won’t be getting old anytime soon. Especially since the “goal” is to find thousands of Wi-Fi signals.
The Wish Finder is supposed to be the Star Sweeper’s robot assistant. It’ll help you search for Wi-Fi signals, and just stand around looking looking stylish in whatever clothes you disguised it with. You can customize every aspect of it, even it’s mannerisms. I found myself taking a little too much pleasure in testing out all of its reactions to being repeatedly jabbed with the stylus.
I was a bit worried at first, because I initially thought I’d actually have to have the DS connect to each Wi-Fi signal. Not so. Unsecured and secured signals are instantly identified by the DS and reward you with stardust and items. You can walk or drive past locations, DS closed in your bag in standby mode, and the game will automatically pick up on things for you. It’s really an interesting mechanic.
One thing that may deter people from checking out Treasure World is that it doesn’t look gorgeous and there’s not a large in-game area to explore. In fact, when you’re not hunting for Wi-Fi signals, there’s little to do. That’s okay. Treasure World isn’t about that. You’re supposed to work on creating music.
While some of the treasure items are costumes to dress up the Wish Finder, more are items you can place in your songscape, aka your immediate environment. See, every treasure item has a sound assigned to it, and your landscape is basically a music staff. You can lay the items out in a pleasing fashion to write compositions. Since there’s a wide selection of items, you have plenty of sound options.
If your songscape actually ends up looking AND sounding good, more power to you. Once you start going for more complex compositions, you’ll probably have to sacrifice looks for sound.
Sadly, there some downsides. Your compositions can only be a few seconds long. So no epic symphonies. You’ll likely even encounter problems trying to mimic beloved songs. Also, it’s very easy to accidentally place an item on another item when creating a song. There’s no undo button, and if items are close together it can be difficult to grab and adjust the correct one. (Tip: Touch the base of the object, apply gentle pressure, then pluck at an angle to remove it.) Also, sometimes songs song better on the DS than they do after they’re uploaded to Club Treasure World.
For those who are not musically inclined, you can purchase premade songs. With the click of a button, the fireflies will automatically set up the tune for you. You can then use this as your main theme, or personalize it with your own items. It’s a helpful feature. Personally, I found it more fun to experiment.
Another interesting Treasure World aspect is the aforementioned Club Treasure World site. If you can connect your DS to Nintendo Wi-Fi, you can create an account and page that mirrors your achievement and landscape in the game. For example, my page currently shows an original songscape I created entirely with some of the fairy treasure items I purchased from Star Sweep. (I like to refer to it as “Fairy Dust,” though the game doesn’t allow you to assign names to original creations.)
It also shows people what my Wish Finder robot is wearing at the moment and any awards and keys I earned. There are also forums and a Treasure Map feature coming soon to share what you’ve found from exact Wi-Fi signals.
Then, there’s the star chart. When you find access points, you may also come across treasure. If you collect or purchase treasure from the same groups (constellations, clusters, galaxies), you’ll unlock even more items in the star chart. It’s staggering at times how much there is to acquire.
Treasure World also gets you thinking about how focused our society is on the Internet. On a brief excursion during my first day with the game, Treasure World found almost 200 access points that it registered as stars in my neighborhood. All within a five or six block radius. When I expanded the search to go to an area with many office buildings, hotels and a few apartments, the number skyrocketed to 522.
Treasure World is an interesting program. However, I had more fun when I wasn’t actively using it. I’d toss my DS into my bag with the game on, go about my daily business, and then be excited at the end of my excursion when I’d see all the new signals I’d discovered. Or, if I had the free time and was a passenger or walking around, I’d keep the DS open and be amused by the names people chose for their access points. The music program is also an interesting feature, but I didn’t spend as much time creating new songs as I thought I would.
Food for Thought:
- While I liked the whole idea of using Wi-Fi signals to unlock items, I can’t help feeling like its a kind of mechanic that should be a part of a larger game, and not the whole focus of the title. I’d have liked to have seen some Animal Crossing or simulation elements thrown in to flesh things out more.
- A way to make the songscape portion more interesting is to challenge yourself. Try to find a way to make a song using only items from the same theme. For example, only use winter or Egyptian items.
- The DS and Treasure World could actually pick up Wi-Fi signals while I was driving in my car. It didn’t do so well picking up signals when I was on the L or bus.
- Three good places to find Wi-Fi signals: apartments, business centers and hotels.
- If you’re around friends with DSes, have them put their units into download mode, then search for stars so you can collect some dual stars.
- Try to search exactly when an hour starts. If you do, you’ll find shooting stars, like 9pm orbit, 11am orbit, etc. These give you special puzzle pieces.