Daily Archives: February 22, 2010

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of a Terrible Game

Recently, I borrowed two DS games from my mother’s collection: Hidden Mysteries Titanic: Secrets of the Fateful Voyage and Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society. Both have extremely long titles, and both are terrible abominations that I can’t believe got made and stocked at full price. Anyways, I breezed uninterestedly through the former-mentioned title, but got stuck with Nancy Drew and eventually just gave it back unfinished. Mom plans to trade them in for pennies and nickels.

Still, I have thoughts. Most of these end with question marks, such as “Why couldn’t they give a clearer hint here?” or “Is Nancy Drew really a complete fool?” or “What’s up with that one dude’s beard?”

Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society is evidently the second outing for the young, teenbop sleuth. I missed the first one…thankfully. In this one, she gets a mysterious letter from the shadowy Clue Bender Society, inviting her over for a visit to join their awesome club of super-detectives. Or something like that. Once there, Drew must find a stolen tome that may or may not contain crazy cult secrets powerful enough to destroy the world. I know, pretty heavy stuff there for a Valley Girl who is more at home when finding her lost cell phone.

Generally speaking, it’s a puzzle game. You might be inclined to say the game has puzzles, emphasis on the s. But it doesn’t really. The puzzles are just minigames: time-wasters, space-fillers, extra screens to tap at furiously, call ’em what you will. These minigames don’t even give you basic instructions; you’re thrown into the lion’s den and must tap your way out. Ultimately, there’s very little, hmm, clue bending in Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society.

And the writing…sigh. Having known them to be quite popular, but never reading much of Nancy Drew’s adventures, I expected a solid story with a whodunnit mystery. The writing, right from the get-go, is a trainwreck. Like, derailed and then flipped and then exploded and then anything that didn’t explode melted like that one dude’s face in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. My favorite “writing” moment (quick, turn on your sarcasm meters!) is when Nancy is meeting a friend in a local cafe. The friend gives her a device to pick up fingerprints and tells her to try it out on her coffee cup; Nancy does and then is extremely shocked and surprised to find her friend’s fingerprints on the mug. Like, oh my gawd! What…an…idiot. I almost want to know what Nancy’s SAT scores look like and if they are just a wee higher than my last bowling record.

Everyone meet Nancy's biggest clue-bending challenge: doors.

But there’s no guidance within the game. I’m not talking guided hand-holding, but there could’ve been more hints as to what to do next. Alas, a lot of time is spent going back and forth from room to room in the mansion, hoping you’ll find something new to click on to set things in motion again. You’ll get a bunch of items you may or may not use (e.g., her cell phone). And there’s an unneeded amount of rooms that have nothing in them. Unfortunately, I got stuck on a part of the mansion where every room offered nothing new, and I had no idea what to do next. My quest instructions said, “Find the tome.”

And now she never will. Oh well. Guess then it’s goodbye, world.

PURCHASE OF THE MONTH: Dragon Age: Origins

I was planning on picking up Dragon Age: Origins in January, but got so many great games to play over Christmas that it never happened. So the next plan was to get it in February, which was all well and good, but things got busy, and I only just sort of realized this weekend that there’s not many more days left in the month.

It’s amazingly deep so far, and I’ve only just started, having now completed the Elf Mage origin. The codex is marvelous, the magic is fun, and the voice acting strong. The only part I was surprised about is the…graphics. If you look out over the walls at Ostagar, the trees look absolutely ridiculous as they are basically flat images standing atop a texture-less “field” of brown. Maybe the darkspawn had something to do with that. Yet another reason to hate ’em, right?!

Anyways, it’s definitely my kind of RPG. All the numbers, dialogue options, and inventory managing warms my heart. I hope the mage was a good choice though; the magic spells does seem pretty potent, but there was a couple instances where I got knocked down and had to heal really fast or buy the farm. We’ll see how it all pans out…