Nancy Drew

[Review] Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Olde World Park (DS) – Secretly Boring Your Kids

What the heck are we teaching our young about video games?

If my latest gaming venture on the DS is any indication, we are trying to either bore them to death, teach them to keep their secrets tightly, pretend they are stupid and make them do repetitive tasks, or show them the world is a crime-ridden place full of stupid mini-games we must play in order to get crooks to start talking.

Never mind; I just think Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Olde World Park is a boring game, and we need to stop with these boring games for children on the DS already.

If I take my experience playing the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew games as any indication, there seems to be some DS “gamez 4 kidz” that are just a bore…and I am sure there are other games that I haven’t played yet. This latest one I played, Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Old World Park, with a PEGI value of age 7+, isn’t the most tedious, or the WORST GAME EVER, but it makes me ponder if all Drew games are like this, and why we insist on pushing these boring games on children (or anyone, for that matter…).

This time, Nancy Drew is investigating the disappearance of a billionaire tycoon who owns a newly built amusement park, and who conveniently goes missing just prior to the park’s opening. It all sounds like the plot could go somewhere, except the gamer is tied up in petty boring minutia. Nancy recruits herself as detective to find out where he’s gone. We play as Nancy in third person, and get to move her around the various places and interact with people and things.

Along the way, Nancy comes across suspects she tries to interview, and some of them are uncooperative. No problem! Nancy’s solution is to play a mini-game to improve the suspect’s mood and get him talking. And this is where the game gets tedious. You are given a selection of mini-games to play, all of them very easy. There isn’t much point to them really, except to give the player something to do other than move Nancy from one room to another. The games themselves really don’t elevate the player’s mood, if you catch my drift. But, they are certainly tied into the gameplay, and you cannot advance in the game without playing them.

“Well, is there anything more to this game?”

Having played both a Nancy Drew game on the PC, and now one on the DS, there is no denying the differences in gameplay between the two. Of course, when I played Trail of the Twister on PC, there was voice acting which is devoid from Olde World Park, instead using music to carry the mood. Graphics between the PC and DS versions vary; the DS game’s graphics aren’t terrible, and not why I would discount this game. No, I must say the reason to avoid Deadly Secret of Olde World Park is simply, the gameplay is stale and unsatisfying early on. You just keep hoping after every chapter that something will be different, when it ends up being more of the same.

Two Nancy Drew games, both not that great. It sort of discourages me from playing the one more Nancy Drew game I have left to play in my collection. Here’s hoping it’s better than Deadly Secret of Olde World Park…

Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Old World Park
Publisher: Majesco / Gorilla
Released: 2007

[Review] Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister (PC)

I have always been fascinated with violent weather – particularly tornadoes – for as long as I can remember. It must have been my love for the Wizard of Oz that began that obsession…Dorothy getting whisked away to a distant land…Of course, I know full well the impact of a tornado, and that it can do a lot more damage than naively thinking it could gently carry someone away to Oz…

So, when I found a game that gave a hint of storm chasing, I was all over it! In comes Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister, a mystery adventure game for the PC.

Like the Hardy Boys, I have never read a word of a Nancy Drew novel. But, I am aware of Nancy’s reputation – a girl with a penchant for solving mysteries. Never afraid to ask the hard questions. Always getting the baddies. Am I right so far? Add to it a decent, character-driven story, some fun gameplay, and you have the trappings of a half-decent mystery adventure game. Getting warmer?

In Trail of the Twister, there is a contest among storm tracker teams, whose winner will receive a $100 million (!!) to support their research. Nancy goes to investigate what seems to be a case of sabotage in the Tornado Chasing community, where equipment effs up at critical moments, cars won’t start when a storm approaches and accidents come out of nowhere, resulting in injury. The Canute College team, part of the contest, has seen their share of issues, and when one of their aides breaks a leg, Nancy comes in fronting as his replacement (But, surprise! She really is working undercover to find out the saboteur!). Yeah, the story is a little thin….

To start, Trail of the Twister looked great and sounded great. I remember remarking to the hubs after about an hour of gameplay that I was digging the game so far, and I was! The game is character-driven, and the voice acting is spot on. The music is very pleasant and non-obtrusive. Some fun stuff included being given money to buy goods at the corner store, and being able to drive your car to destinations on a map using a GPS. Not a bad gimmick, if only you could control the speed of the car while driving…

Where the game goes off the rails is with the story itself. Nancy is a detective, but in working undercover, you discover she is really the Canute College’s ‘Lil’ Bitch’ Friday. They had this girl running errands all day, with a task list that was about 50 items deep – no kidding. The tasks weren’t that interesting either. The house the team was stationed at has a mouse infestation? Nancy had to go get a mouse trap. She also had to get cheese snacks to lure the mice, but gee, she needed money for that. Time to work more chores to gain money to buy cheese snacks. Hey, Nancy, fix these circuit boards! Get rid of the prairie dog problem! Fix the antennas! Go fly a kite in a thunder storm!

Let me tell you, Nancy was a patient saint through it all. The choices you were given always had Nancy be very “yes sir!” even in the face of some very mean people she had to work for. The characters in the Canute project – Scott, Frosty, Wendy…all total douches (let’s not even talk about how douchy the name “Frosty” is…). In one part, the game had you chasing a storm with Frosty as a passenger. Frosty was SCREAMING at Nancy that she was going the wrong way. Then his camera broke, he hands it to Nancy to fix it, and then blames Nancy (you) for not fixing it fast enough. Then, the whole team blames Nancy for their failure. Man, I think I just got PTSD from a game…

The two areas I wish the game would have focused more on were storm chasing, and DETECTIVE WORK! There really wasn’t much time in the game for either, considering the ticker tape of tasks you were made to do. What was most irritating was being made to trap mice twice, which meant having to collect more money for cheese by doing menial puzzles again. Nothing is more boring than having to repeat tasks. That is just lazy game development. Also, HELLO! This IS Nancy Drew, isn’t it? This was more of a summer job than a case to solve. And with the attitudes of the people in the Canute Team, I couldn’t care less if they won the $100 million. I was actually rooting for the saboteur by the end of it!

Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister didn’t blow, it just fell flat by the end. I recommend the first hour of the game, but feel free to stop it thereafter.

Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister
Developer: Her Entertainment
Released: 2010