The Mystery Case Files (also known as MCF) is a casual game series developed by the internal studios of Big Fish Games. The MCF series is known for its ‘Hidden Object’ puzzles where, in order to progress through a game, the player must find a certain number of items hidden somewhere on a painted scene. There are usually thousands of items hidden in the game and while some of them are easy to find, some can be quite difficult.[ ]
There have been six games in the MCF series to date. After MCF: Huntsville, each one added additional features including:
- Flashlights by MCF: Prime Suspects
- Door puzzles by MCF: Ravenhearst
- Word and crystal ball puzzles, and morphing objects by MCF: Madame Fate
- Cause and effect objects by MCF: Return to Ravenhearst
- Videos and live actors by MCF: Dire Grove
Storyline and characters have played an increasingly important part in the development of the series, especially from the third game onwards. The game MCF: Ravenhearst begins a story-arc that continues on into the next two games after it, MCF: Madame Fate and MCF: Return to Ravenhearst. The next game after, MCF: Dire Grove, follows on from previous but does not lead directly into the same story. It has been confirmed that a seventh game will be released in 'Late 2010'. It is not known if this game will continue this story-arc.
Big Fish Games "estimates that 100 million people have at least sampled trial versions" of the MCF games since the initial launch of MCF: Huntsville.
- Mystery Case Files: Huntsville is the first instalment in the Mystery Case Files franchise and was released in November 2005 and immediately broke sales records for casual games. The player takes the role of a master detective to solve a series of seemingly random crimes in the small town of Huntsville. The game features a number of locations to explore and introduced the Crime Computer which is still a main part of the series.
- Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects is the second instalment in the Mystery Case Files franchise and was released in April 2006. The player is tasked with investigating the disappearance of the Queen’s Hope Diamond in Capital City. Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects added items that players have to discover to unlock later levels (such as finding a battery to power a flashlight). Characters also became a more prominent part of the series with the investigation revolving around multiple characters with different personality ‘quirks’. Every time the game is played, the suspects and culprit are different.
- Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst is the third instalment in the Mystery Case Files franchise and was released in December 2006 and features an investigation centered on a mysterious manor located in England. Players find objects to unlock diary pieces to follow the life of Emma Ravenhearst. Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst introduced elaborate door puzzles to the series that were similar to a Rube Goldberg type puzzle.
- Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate is the fourth instalment in the Mystery Case Files franchise and was released in November 2007. The player investigates Madame Fate’s Carnival and the carnival workers to see which one of them causes the fortune teller’s death at midnight. Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate introduces more types of puzzles (including word puzzles and multiple crystal ball puzzles) while also changing the way a player can find items. Sometimes the player must combine two items on the screen, other times they must locate hidden areas to progress. The bulk of the game is still finding hidden objects, but there are a lot of other types of puzzles. Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate also introduced hidden object scenes inside hidden object scenes into the gameplay.
- Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst is the fifth instalment in the Mystery Case Files franchise and was released on November 26, 2008, for Big Fish Games Game Club members whereas the public was able to download this game on November 27, 2008.
- Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove is the sixth instalment of the Mystery Case Files franchise and was released December 11, 2009. It had its first release on November 25, 2009 as a Collector's Edition. It follows the events of four graduate students who travel to a small township near Blackpool, England. They were never heard from again as they went missing in Fall 2009. The game follows on from the previous game, Return To Ravenhearst, but does not directly lead into the Ravenhearst story-arc.
- Mystery Case Files: 7 is confirmed for a 'Late 2010' release and will be the seventh instalment in the Mystery Case Files franchise. It is not certain if it will continue the Ravenhearst story-arc.
- Mystery Case Files: Agent X was released on April 15, 2008 and is the first in the MCF franchise to be to be released for a portable device. Mystery Case Files: Agent X is only usable by Glu Mobile capable cell-phones.
- Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir was released in September 8, 2008 and is the second game in the Mystery Case Files franchise to be released for portable devices. Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir requires a Nintendo DS system and was published by Nintendo.
- Stolen is the first novel in the series and was released in August, 2010. The book is written by Jordan Gray. It follows young couple, Molly and Michael Graham, as they move to Blackpool for a simple way of life. A shattering scream outside an old theater leads to the victim, a woman whose past in Blackpool is linked to a seventy-year-old train wreck, a lost child and a cache of valuable paintings smuggled out of London during World War II. After a number of frustrating missteps, can Molly and Michael discover the killer in their midst? In Blackpool they know secrets run deep. And some want them hidden forever—at any cost.
- Vanished is the second novel and will be released in November, 2010.
- Submerged is the third novel and will be released in February, 2011.
- Unearthed is the fourth and final book and is set for a May, 2011 release.
- Official Mystery Case Files Website
- MCF: Huntsville at Big Fish Games
- MCF: Prime Suspects at Big Fish Games
- MCF: Ravenhearst at Big Fish Games
- MCF: Madame Fate at Big Fish Games
- MCF: Return To Ravenhearst at Big Fish Games
- MCF: Dire Grove at Big Fish Games
- MCF: Dire Grove: Collector's Edition at Big Fish Games
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