In being a smart, enthusiastic, and sensible teenage detective, Nancy Drew seems like she’d be easier for nerdy girls to sympathize with than the more boy starved stars of other book series. This makes it no surprise that, unlike the girls of The Babysitters’ Club or dozens of other similarly targeted books, the character is the star of piles of point and click adventure games. Though Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger is more of a casual game than its predecessors, it still involves enough thought and has enough of a pop culture conscious anti-superficiality attitude to be fairly entertaining.
The gameplay of Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger is, for the most part, that of a hidden object game. As it’s a spin-off of an adventure game, it’s a bit different from most hidden object games in that, rather than getting a list of objects to find, the player has to find interesting items in the room and use them together to solve a variety of puzzles. Though this seems like it might make the game very different from others in the genre, the differences end up being minor. This is partially because in the majority of rooms in the game, there are instructions to a puzzle that requires a specific list of odd objects to be found before it can be solved.
Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger also stays true to the hidden object game formula by sticking minigames between each hidden object level. Some of the minigames are actually quite fun, with my favorite being a puzzle obviously inspired by match three games that has players switching tiles on a board to match up halves of letters in order to decode threatening notes. Other minigames include giving facials and defusing bombs, both of which are amusing enough to play.
The game’s last mingame, however, veers towards unplayablity so quickly that it almost got me to throw the disc out the window. It’s a needlessly long, clunky, and frustrating quest to match items to statues that requires either a more than general knowledge of Greek history and mythology or an ungodly tolerance of trial and error gameplay that punishes failure with forcing gamers to plod around a maze that programmers of freeware Pac-Man clones would be embarrassed to sign with their screen names. It’s too long and frustrating to fit well in a casual game and requires obscure knowledge that, even if it is commonly taught, can be difficult to recall. This is not a major part of the game, but it was still a significant interruption to my enjoyment of it.
The graphics in Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger are fairly good, but are wildly uneven in terms of style. The hidden object segments don’t look that different from many other games of the sort, with clearly drawn and slightly cartoonish scenes in which to find objects. What is strange about the graphics, however, comes from the presentation of the characters. In cutscenes, everything looks sketchy and half-animated, sort of like a motion comic, while in conversations, the characters are represented by fully animated CG models. It’s nothing that hurts the game, in terms of story or gameplay, but it’s a little strange.
Usage of sound in Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger is just as adequate as the usage of graphics, but for a few reasons, it becomes a lot more grating at a much quicker pace. The music is fine, if not unmemorable, but the voice acting causes at least a slight problem. It isn’t that the voice acting is horrible, since all of the actors do an okay job with their characters, but the amount of dialogue in the game would make even the best voice actors start to sound irritating. The characters in this game talk at least as much as those in plot-heavy console RPGs, and while it can be funny to play a video game where starlets complain that their TV pilots didn’t get picked up for the fall season, the presence of a skip button is frequently tempting.
In terms of value, Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger, is quite reasonable. The main game isn’t incredibly long, but seems like a good length for the story it’s telling and doesn’t drag things out for an unnecessary period of time. Upon completing the game, however, players are given the option to play through again for different endings, which will probably please those who really liked it. Finishing the game also unlocks an arcade mode where most of the minigames can be played separately from the game’s story mode. Considering the high quality of some of these games, it is an excellent bonus that adds longevity to the game.
Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger isn’t a perfect game. The graphics are a little strange, none of the characters seem to know that sometimes, it’s okay to be quiet, and, towards the end, the gameplay starts to get frustrating. Still, it is an interesting hidden object game with some minigames that I’d love to have on my iPod and a story with an entertaining focus on the ridiculousness of show business.
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