'Dream Day Wedding' sequel sticks to winning formula

Considering women make up about 74% of gamers who purchase "casual games" — those downloadable try-before-you-buy games that are easy to pick up but hard to put down — it's no surprise i-Play's Dream Day Wedding series is a hit.

These popular computer games challenge you to help make a bride's big day successful by ensuring everything is in order when it comes to the dress, cake, flowers and jewelry, by solving a couple dozen puzzles and unraveling more of the story.

The latest in the franchise, Dream Day Wedding: Married in Manhattan (free to try for 60 minutes, then $19.95 to buy), will satisfy fans of the series, though you'll likely experience deja vu as this sequel plays just like its predecessors.

You assume the role of a New York wedding planner and must pick one of two couples to help prepare for their big day. The core game play falls into the "hidden object" genre, where you must search for concealed items in many locations, such as a florist, the bride-to-be's home or in Central Park. After you find and click items listed on the left-hand side of the screen — such as a watch, apple, horse, necklace or cheesecake — they get scratched off the list. You'll have a specific amount of time to find all the items per level.

Married in Manhattan also includes many different kinds of minigames and other challenges. Every few levels you will solve adventure game-like puzzles: in the bride's bathroom, for example, you'll click to open the shower curtain and see a magazine you need to read, but it's too wet. So you'll pick up the hair dryer and use it on the magazine. Now you can open the magazine and you turn to a page with a photo of a light fixture that matches one in the bathroom. When you click on the light, it's too hot to touch, so you must turn off the light (the switch is behind a hanging pink robe) and after removing the light fixture you see something hidden behind it, but your hands are too big — tweezers are needed to retrieve the note.

This sequel also brings back "wedding crisis" levels, where you must race against the clock to find items to avoid a catastrophe. For example, the chef decides to get experimental with your wedding cake, and it looks horrible, so you only have a couple of minutes to find items and then decorate the new cake by selecting the shape and trimmings.

The third type of bonus includes a wedding registry. You get to choose a present, which unlocks a different kind of minigame inside, including a puzzle game involving a seating plan or the Choc-o-matic pipe game. Completing the puzzle in a certain amount of time reveals the gift.

Finally, you will also get to read stories about the couple and select from different outcomes to keep the story chugging along — kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure books for kids.

While quite polished, the game isn't perfect. One beef is some confusing items to find. In one instance I was asked to find a notecard, so I clicked on the small notecard with the bride's name on it (beside a bouquet) but it was incorrect. Say what? Instead, another blank note was hidden on the level.

But overall, Married in Manhattan is a good hidden object game that will no doubt impress longtime fans and newcomers alike. Oh, and if you like being a wedding planner, virtually speaking, you might also enjoy PlayFirst's Wedding Dash casual game series.

Contact Marc Saltzman at gnstech@gns.gannett.com.