Straight up, I never read the Hardy Boys as a kid. I have some idea what they are about – two teen detective bros who solve crimes…what else is there? Well, I did read more into their background…their father is a detective and often allows his boys in on some of his most confidential cases. I suppose this is how we find the boys investigating a whopper of a mystery in The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks game for the DS.
The Romanov family was once a wealthy dynasty in Russia that had many riches, but that had everything taken from them during the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Tsar, knowing he would be deposed in short order, supposedly hid his family treasures away, and left clues to their location in paintings he had commissioned, but had also hidden items on the Royal Express – a train which treasure seekers get invited to ride on every year from Paris to St. Petersburg in the hope of uncovering a treasure. And guess what? This year the Hardy Boys get a stab at the mystery!
For starters, it being the Hardy Boys, you would expect this game to be suited for children. I found the game very slow in momentum. The cut scenes are very draggy and unskippable, but thankfully, the dialogue scenes advance with the touch of your stylus. Controls are touchy and at times it’s hard to find the arrows that will allow you to exit rooms. There is no voice acting in Treasure on the Tracks, so gamers would need to have the attention span to read everything. Graphics are simplistic, with barely any animation to speak of. The music is repetitive. In fact, the best looking thing of this game was actually the cover of the case that housed the game.
Let’s talk about the very simplistic mini-games of Treasure on the Tracks. How about repeatedly (read: every chapter) finding ripped up scraps of paper scattered around Paris and Vienna – that’s fun, right? Endlessly finding five similar objects in a picture then joining them by drawing a five-point star between them – fun! Pilfer through strangers’ sleeper cabins looking for clues before the security guard catches you – ooo! Better hurry, or else the mall cop might kick me off the train! The best part was when the boys were bullied by a grey-haired dude called “the Baron” who claimed he was the heir to the Romanov fortune, and using this as a means to get the boys to cook him dinner. Then, you actually had to “make” him dinner, complete with “cutting vegetables” and “stirring the pot”. The boys whip him up a soup, and in the end, in a great lesson in manners, the Baron doesn’t even thank them!
Really, you would be playing Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks for the story, because the little mini-puzzles within the story were repetitive and boring. I couldn’t see any child finding this game fun, interesting or engaging in the least. And I hazard those that have found it fun and interesting haven’t been exposed to the plethora of even better FUN games available for the DS. And to that I say: stick with me kid – you won’t know what hit you!
Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks
Developer: Her Interactive / Publisher: Sega