When a digital game has no graphics to speak of, can you really say they are bad?
These are the sorts of questions you ask yourself when you are trying to analyze something like Findtheinsivisiblecow.com from a critical standpoint. Does it succeed in what it is trying to accomplish? What, then, is it trying to do, exactly? Is it fun? Is it presented well? Are there flaws?
Find The Invisible Cow is absolutely simple and definitely enjoyable. Gameplay is easy: Moving your mouse cursor on the web page, you will hear a man saying the word “Cow.” As your cursor nears the titular Invisible Cow, the man's voice will increase in both volume and urgency, until his cries of “Cow!” are downright frantic.
Then, you have only to click the Cow, and are rewarded with one point for your find. You can continue to play another round, with the option for a higher difficulty in which the cursor does not change from the usual arrow to a hand when it is over the bovine creature of your quest.
And, really, that is about it. The only additional wrinkle, which shall not be spoiled here, involves a change in goal once the player achieves five points. This is Find The Invisible Cow Dot Game, the free online game, waster of time and causer of speaker volume decrease.
But, golly, is it a blast -- albeit breifly.
This is minimalism at its finest, one could say: Although replay value is tremendously lacking here (aside from the possibility of future enhancements, there truly is no true experience beyond a sixth consecutive playthrough), the few minutes spent finding that darn cow are not regretted. The voice delivery is superb, even humorous, along with the pixel rendition of said cow upon discovery.
The game is the perfect sort of semi-viral, share-with-a-friend phenomenon. Its premise, which draws comparison to old-school Hunt The Wumpus sites, is refreshing. While no serious critique would place this delightful diversion on the Top Shelf of All Games Ever, most would be quite satisfied to give it a try. After all, what else is game development for?
Eric Bailey blogs at NintendoLegend.com, where he is reviewing every American-released NES video game. He also serves as Editor-In-Chief of retro gaming features site 1MoreCastle.com, and can be followed on Twitter @Nintendo_Legend.