Turn Virtual Trash Into Virtual Treasure with Pickers! (Review, PC)

Have you ever thought about living life as an antique dealer? I don’t mean on the high end, buying and selling priceless, authenticated works of art. I mean the more eclectic end – sifting through people’s attics and garages, trying to find some expensive item that’s been mistaken for a piece of junk. If so, then there’s a good chance Pickers is the game for you. More about this one after the drop.

MumboJumbo’s latest is an unusual but obvious entrant into the whole “item search” puzzle genre. Instead of the focus being on solving a mystery or gathering clues for some detective work, Pickers has you sifting through the ‘collectibles’ hoard in various locales throughout the country for no other reason than sheer profit. The main campaign of the game is simple: spend thirty days purchasing the creme de la creme of second hand collectible goods, and at the end of each day try to turn a profit on what you’ve picked. There’s a tremendous load of junk to sift through, along with a wide variation of locations, and you can only purchase seven items each day. The challenge is to pick the best items at the hottest times, buying low and selling high [singlepic id=6195 w=320 h=240 float=left]

Graphically, Pickers excels. This kind of game really requires clear and eyecatching graphics, not only for purposes of presentation, but also to make the task of visually searching for interesting or appropriate items as easy on the eyes as possible. Every item you come across has some beautiful 2D detail, and there’s some pleasure to be had in mentally cataloging each and every item you come across, trying to figure out which object in the horde will be your best bet. The environments and characters are well-designed as well, hovering somewhere on the border between realistic and cartoony. Suffice to say, the game is easy on the eyes – or as easy as it can be when you are, quite literally, digging through other people’s trash.[singlepic id=6196 w=320 h=240 float=right]

The gameplay in Pickers is straightforward. As previously noted, each day you can pick a maximum of seven items from a very wide variety. You’ll have to negotiate with the item’s current owner, trying to haggle them down as low as they’ll go without upsetting them (which could lead to a temporary inability to deal with them further, and possible higher prices in the future). Afterwards, you can decide whether to risk your item at an auction, or price it for sale in a store – where NPCs will in turn try to haggle you down from your initial list price. If you’re the sort of person who just loves to play the auction hall game in MMOs, this may actually be a title to look at – Pickers provides a pretty decent slice of economic gameplay, without all the ‘monster killing’ business to worry about. [singlepic id=6197 w=320 h=240 float=left]

The interface and controls are easy to learn. Really, it’s hard to screw up in a way – if you’re interested in an item, click to select it and get a little more information about it. If you dislike it, just remove it from your inventory and back to the pile it goes. The haggling and price-setting is equally direct, and chances are there will never be a moment where you’re at a loss for what you should do next. In addition to the general polish MumboJumbo has given this game, there’s also a huge variety of locations to explore and items to consider. It’s conceivably possible that you’ll eventually have memorized just about every item in the game, but seriously… that would require quite a lot of play in this game, and by that point you can hardly say you didn’t get your money’s worth.

Oddly enough considering the game’s concept, Pickers has turned out to be a bargain itself. While the gameplay has a very tight focus – sifting through items to buy and sell may wear on some gamers – if the prospect of hunting for treasure in a marketplace instead of a dungeon appeals to you, this is definitely one game to check out.

Victor Grunn has been a gamer since the days of single-button joysticks and the Atari 800XL. When not lamenting the loss of the Ultima series or setting people on fire in Team Fortress 2, he's an aspiring indie game developer and freelance writer.

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