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DS

North America

Nancy Drew and the Deadly Secret of Olde World Park

by Carmine Red - December 4, 2007, 10:41 pm PST
Total comments: 5

7

The "Girl Detective" stars in a fast-paced, charming, and accessible, adventure.

Nancy Drew may at first be categorized as an adventure game for young players, but it's so much more than that. Key to this game's uniqueness is its willingness to cut out all the fat and accelerate players right to where they need to be. It almost feels less a game and more like a sort of Nancy Drew comic book.

Now, old-school adventure gamers will cry foul at this. What good is an adventure game where the game tells you where to go, where to look, who to talk to, and what to talk about? To begin with, it's like this game was tailor-made for novice DS players. As long as you can read, you can get caught up as Nancy Drew, Girl Detective, cracks a satisfyingly twisty crime thriller. The beginning part of the game is actually a little more traditionally complex, suggesting that the game's go-here-then-go-here pace may be a function of budget, but it's still a comfort to know that this is a game to enjoy, not to obsess over. It's a story you can take in, instead of having to analyze every step of the way.

Speaking of story, Nancy is first called upon to find a missing dress and some other items for her friend Bess, who has won a contest to attend the opening of a new theme park. But even as the plot stays family-friendly, it turns out to be a really compelling page-turner: it introduces crackpot authors, werewolves, convicts, insurance fraud, secret identities, cover-ups, and a billionaire gone missing. Driven by some innate sense of justice and curiousity, Nancy is shuttled from reluctant witnesses to important crime scenes by her supportive, amused, but resignedly understanding boyfriend Ned (a rare, emancipated, 21st century male), who shows up more and more as the game feeds you increasingly specific tasks and clues and hurtles excitedly towards the finish.

Most of the action takes place on the top screen, which displays hand-drawn illustrations when you examine clues or interview people, or a 3D environment when players need to physically walk Nancy to a specific person or clue. Moving around in this 3D view is easily done with the D-pad instead of any sort of point-and-click functionality; instead, the touch screen is almost exclusively used for displaying icons that can be tapped to display information, or to ask subjects about certain topics. The controls work perfectly once you know them, though there may be the odd disconnect when switching between the D-pad and buttons for movement (you must press the X button to interact with people and Nancy's environment) and using the stylus for reviewing information or selecting subjects to grill people about.

There are six mini-games to break up the straight-forward sleuthing gameplay by adding some simple, yet different challenges that apply to Nancy's situation. Each is described in such a way that even though you're casually sliding tiles or matching symbols, Nancy is supposedly picking locks or reading her suspect's emotions. With the exception of one game where you slide around jumbled tiles to reform a picture, none are very difficult, even later in the game when they show up in slightly expanded forms, and you can often choose to do a different mini-game if one of them is giving you too much trouble. Occasionally, players will also have to use the D-pad to walk Nancy around a maze-like room, sneaking past a security guard and staying in the shadows to reach important clues.

Amidst all this is some beautiful 2D art work that really fits the game's license and audience. If there is one thing that really stands out in this game, it would be the art. It can be described as inviting, hip, and easy on the eyes, as well as distinctly Western amidst today's prevalence of Japanese-inspired design. Yes, the game's characters and atmosphere are entirely suitable for younger players, but it's also in no way condescending or simplified, and older players need not feel driven away by it.

That's actually a theme that describes Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park really well. It's amazingly accessible for young players, features a proactive character for girls, and is a great way to introduce children to the adventure genre. And although long-time gamers will find the game to almost run on automatic, it also features a fast-paced crime story with surprise twists, and some smooth art.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 6 7 7 3 7
Graphics
8

The 2D hand-drawn art is a real joy, with a relaxing, non-threatening style that still exhibits just enough of an edge to keep more sophisticated players engaged. The 3D portions, which are used anytime the player has to walk Nancy to the next clue, get the job done.

Sound
6

The sound effects are minimal, and the one or two pieces of looping music aren't going to win any awards, but they set the mood and somehow avoid becoming annoying or boring.

Control
7

The controls make few missteps, and generally everything works exactly as advertised and is simple enough to be instantly understood and executed by anyone.

Gameplay
7

While the gameplay could very well be classified as adventure-lite, its fast pace means casual gamers and young gamers will find it absolutely gripping. It's obviously too easy for veteran adventure gamers, but the game's story is still compelling enough to warrant "borrowing" from a younger relative to play through.

Lastability
3

Unfortunately, the accessibility and fast-pace of the game means that it can be beaten in three to five hours, perhaps less. And like all adventure style games, there's no extra incentive to play through again unless you enjoy the story. Still, you can replay any of the game's six types of mini-games after unlocking them.

Final
7

Nancy Drew and the Deadly Secret of Olde World Park is a surprising experience. It doesn't offer much resistance, but instead propels players through the story, never letting them stop to breath before hurtling them at the next person to talk to or set of clues to examine. It may be short and easy as a result, but it's great for younger gamers and has enough charm to earn the grudging respect of experienced adventure gamers looking to introduce a young relative to the joys of gaming.

Summary

Pros
  • Accessible, fast-paced adventure gameplay; you'll never be frustrated or stuck
  • An interesting crime thriller that's still rated E for Everyone
  • Beautiful art style
Cons
  • Easy gameplay will make veteran adventure gamers feel bored and spoon-fed
  • The sliding-tile puzzle is disproportionately difficult compared to the other mini-games
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

I reviewed Nancy Drew for my application packet packet, and that review (after extensive editting by the AWESOME NWR staff) has finally been posted! Yay!

GoldenPhoenixDecember 04, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Kairon
I reviewed Nancy Drew for my application packet packet, and that review (after extensive editting by the AWESOME NWR staff) has finally been posted! Yay!


.5 points above what PH deserves. Seems fair to me.

Incidentally... ever since playing this game I've had a hankering for all things Nancy Drew. I even netflixed the 4 movies from the 1940's, and I can't wait till the 2007 movie with Emma Roberts lands on DVD. If their goal was to induct a new fan into the Nancy Drew audience... *gulp*... they got me!

vuduDecember 05, 2007

I'm never going to play this game. Can you just tell me what the secret is?

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Nancy Drew and the Deadly Secret of Olde World Park Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Gorilla Systems Corporation
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Nancy Drew and the Deadly Secret of Olde World Park
Release Sep 18, 2007
PublisherMajesco
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