Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park
It's a mystery that this Nancy Drew game turns out to be better than expected. Maybe someone should investigate.
I'm not really a Nancy Drew fan myself. I've heard about her mystery stories and how sharp a little girl she's really been for the last eighty years, so I won't hold any doubts about her talents...unless, of course, she runs into Encyclopedia Brown on the street and demands to match wits with him. Then it's on. Until that day, however, we've got a handheld game to contend with, as Nancy Drew investigates the disapperance of an amusement park owner and finds more than she bargained for.
The game is called Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Olde World Park, and at first it almost resembles the kookiness of a Scooby-Doo mystery. Seriously, you'll look at the packaging and be tempted to buy some Scooby Snacks with it. However, the developers at Gorilla do a surprisingly good job at making the game entertaining, even if it's just for a little while.
There's essentially two parts to this game. The first has Nancy moving about the park, talking to friends, suspects and other characters in an attempt to get clues and avoid trouble. That's not entirely easy, as a certain amount of shadiness is taking place at the park. This includes a classic werewolf horror story and keeping your friends out of trouble. (Apparently they can't take care of themselves.) The game unfolds in pre-set 3-D segments. They aren't amazing, by any means, but it does allow you to get to particular points in the game without struggling.
The second part of the game is split into mini-games. You'll shift around parts of a picture in a sliding tile puzzle until it's done just right. You'll also select the right path through a maze in order to proceed and match up moods with the right color. They won't amaze you, by any means, and the game could've easily used more of these games for some variety. Nevertheless, it's a smartly intwined interface that works for all ages, keeping the game lively and interesting.
Nancy Drew's greatest asset, however, is in its writing. There's really an involving mystery story here, one that involves a few hours of play as you discover new twists and turns and eventually bring the culprit (or culprits -- duh duh duhhhhhh!) to justice. There's always some kind of risk factor, but never "death", which means this is a perfect game for kids who want to be detectives or those seeking out a different kind of DS experience. It's just a shame that the mystery ends so soon, with little to nothing to come back to. Some downloadable content or "bonus mysteries" would've hit the spot here.
Nevertheless, Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Olde World Park hits the spot surprisingly well, rather than dwelling in "girly content" that would've made this game just as insulting as Acclaim's Mary Kate and Ashley line-up. It's got an involving mystery, a likable gameplay system and a design that's truthful to the brave detective. Just make sure you're not playing it in a sports bar around your fellow dudes. You could always say it's one of the "twisted mini-games" in Dementium: The Ward...as long as they don't see the game cover.
What's Hot: Excellent interface; involving mystery story for all ages; follows the Nancy Drew style to a tee.
What's Not: Easily solvable within a few hours, with nothing to go back to; needs more mini-games.