Reviewed: October 1, 2007
Released: September 18, 2007
Gorilla Systemsí first Nancy Drew title for the Nintendo DS, Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World follows the teenaged detectiveís investigation of several mysterious occurrences threatening the grand opening of a new theme park in town. Readers of the book series may recognize familiar recurring characters, like Bess, George, and Ned, though all characters have undergone a modern makeover for the new generation of young Nancy Drew fans.
More suitable for a younger audience or more casual gamers, this adventure title probably wonít pose much of a challenge to more seasoned players, but its interactive, comic-book feel has a certain appeal.
Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park, despite its ominous name, is a lighthearted mystery romp following the adventures of teen sleuth Nancy Drew in her first appearance on the Nintendo DS as she attempts to track down a new theme parkís missing owner while unraveling a plot against a popular local author and his newest book.
Though they star the same fictional heroine, Gorilla Systemsí Olde World Park bears just about no resemblance to Her Interactiveís popular PC adventure game series and may not appeal so much to fans of the PC Nancy Drew game series. This DS title is, instead, geared toward a younger and more casual gamer audience, providing simpler puzzles and more handholding for people new to the genre of adventure gaming.
Olde World Park plays out like an interactive graphic novel, and most of the story is presented in an attractive illustrated panel format with text bubbles. During actual gameplay, the player controls a 3D-rendered version of Nancy, guiding the girl detective through various straightforward environments to search for clues or interrogate suspects. Navigation is fairly easy, though the game unfortunately doesnít take advantage of the DSís stylus to move Nancy around. Instead, all movement takes place on the upper screen, and the lower touch screen is mostly used only for inventory and quest log management or mini-games.
Unlike most adventure games, Olde World Park makes it very easy on the player by marking every point of interest with a very clear icon (such as a magnifying glass for closer inspection), so players immediately know upon entering an area which locations they will need to take a look at. Clue gathering is another area of the game in which the DS stylus capability could have been put to good use, but all navigation and interaction with the environment occurs in the upper screen. For many fans of the adventure genre, this no doubt takes the challenge and a lot of the fun out of searching for clues, but it may not be so bad for a beginning player.
Besides walking around and looking for hints, Nancy does a lot of talking in this game. This is where most of the mini-games come in, as youíll need to play one of five different conversation mini-games (some of which become available later in the game) in order to loosen the lips of the more non-talkative characters.
There are also a couple of other mini-games Ė like a sneaking game, a lock-picking game, and a bomb defusing game Ė that come up during the course of Olde World Park. Most of the mini-games make use of the DS stylus and touch screen, and all the games are relatively simple and easy to complete. Additionally, if Nancy ever fails at a mini-game, the game automatically allows you to retry the activity, and thereís no penalty for doing it over.
These mini-games make up most of Olde World Park, and the game is, frankly, very short and very linear. It only took me about an hour or two at most to run through the entire game, and due to the linear nature of the title, thereís only a single ending and no real reason to play it again. From the main menu, you can play any of the mini-games that youíve unlocked during gameplay whenever you want, but thatís about it as far as unlockable features go.
The brightly colored, hand-drawn artwork is definitely one of the highlights of this game. Since Olde World Park plays out like a somewhat interactive comic book, the inclusion of a number of attractively illustrated panels is especially appropriate. To add to the overall effect, the backdrop environments have also been designed to resemble painted animation cel backgrounds. 3D-rendered Nancy is unusually tall for a young lady (inches taller than an ordinary door frame), but thatís all right. In general, the graphics Ė characters, artwork, icons, and all Ė are crisp, clear, and bright on the DS screen.
The sound effects and 007-reminiscent soundtrack in Olde World Park arenít bad per se, but effects are nothing special, and the selection of background music tracks is extremely limited and can get rather repetitive, even for the very short span of this game. The overall sound would have been much improved if the developers had just managed to have different background tracks for each of the handful of different locations, but instead you get maybe three different tracks that all sound somewhat similar and play throughout the game.
As I mentioned earlier in this review, this Olde World Park is an incredibly short game with no multiple endings and very few unlockable features. Granted, itís probably designed with a much younger target audience in mind; the difficulty level in the game tends to be on the low end, which may make it more of an enjoyable experience for younger or less experienced gamers. Otherwise, itís not likely to provide a satisfying level of challenge for the typical gamer.
Since the game is entirely linear, and every point of interest is clearly pointed out to the player, Olde World Park probably wonít take long for most players to complete, and unless you have a burning desire to re-read the story panels, there isnít much incentive to play through the game again. For the retail price of $29.99 (the cost of most DS games at the time of writing), itís not the best value, but it could be a decent game for a younger DS player if you find it on sale.
As an attractively illustrated adventure game with very mild difficulty levels, Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park probably isnít a bad choice for younger gamers or fans of Nancy Drew who might enjoy it as a short, interactive comic book. If youíre looking for something like the PC Nancy Drew games on the DS, though, this title is probably not for you.