Madden…Pokémon…The Sims…Nancy Drew? That’s right, although the franchise has largely flown under the radar of most gamers, Her Interactive’s series of PC adventure titles based on the teenage super sleuth have come to dominate sales charts with each new installment. The numerous installments in the series to date have surpassed over 4 million units sold, with #16 debuting at #1 this past June. So it’s no surprise that the franchise has now arrived on the Nintendo DS, arguably the #1 current platform for young girls.
As you’d expect, Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park follows the PC series’ lead as an adventure title. Grandfatherly billionaire Thaddeus Belmont is about to open Olde World Park, a new vacation spot themed after some of history’s greatest civilizations, when he mysteriously disappears a few days before its scheduled to open. To make matters worse, there are questions surrounding exactly how Belmont came into his money, and (perhaps worst of all) Nancy’s B.F.F. Bess is missing her dress! So Nancy’s on the case to not only save Bess from her latest fashion faux pas, but also answer the questions surrounding Belmont’s disappearance.
The story is told in comic book fashion, with each bit of dialog accompanied by an in illustrated panel. Given the hardware this is a great way to tell the game’s story, although some fans of the franchise will no doubt balk at Nancy’s vaguely anime Totally Spies-esque appearance that slightly counteracts her intelligent nature. Personally my only problem with it was that there wasn’t enough variety in the illustrations, so the player ends up seeing the same ones over and over again. As a result, some of the drawings are slightly out of context given the dialog, and obviously shoehorned in just so the developers could avoid having to draw another one for one or two panels.
As you may expect from a DS title, this game is focused more on the mini-games involved in solving the mystery, and less on the actual problem solving. In fact, I can only recall two instances where the player is really left to his or her own devices during the game, but those situations are so limited that even the least intelligent players should stumble across the answer in no more than a few minutes. As Nancy presses for answers from the game’s various characters, she’ll often need to play one of five different mini-games representing interrogation techniques used to get the information she needs. These mini-games include:
- Color Match – An on-screen symbol represents the character’s mood, and the player must drag and drop 12 matching symbols to a holding area as they come in from the right side of the screen before time runs out.
- Pathway – Turn over tiles on a board to find the star pathway leading from beginning to end before time runs out.
- Drop – Essentially The Price is Right's Plinko, the player must move baskets at the bottom of the screen to catch the mood symbols that match.
- Happy Tiles – The player moves a smiley face tile to convert others, with the goal being to get all tiles on the board the same before time runs out.
- Rapport – A tile-based puzzle, which again must be solved before time runs out.
Posted: 2007-10-20 13:56:05 PST