Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger Review

"Go undercover as super-sleuth Nancy Drew to save daytime TV's biggest star from danger lurking in the wings. You, as Nancy Drew, have just joined the set of a daytime drama on the hunt for a would-be killer." Rick Arlen, the handsome actor from daytime soap's "Light of Our Love," has been receiving death threats from an unknown stalker. Not only has he been receiving hate mail, but someone has also sent him poisoned candy and a broken watch with a note which read "Your time is running out!". Travelling to New York City, Nancy will search for clues in the TV studio, offices, and locked rooms. "Clues are everywhere you look, but so is treachery."

Her Interactive released their first Nancy Drew adventure game, Secrets Can Kill in 1999 and made many improvements in Stay Tuned for Danger, their second game. However, this second game still does not measure up to the caliber of other adventure games that have graced the store shelves.

The game does have its good points. The interface is easy to use and straightforward. There are no problems whatsoever with installation or saving and loading games. The music is pleasant, even though not overly imaginative. Character voices are done very well and their mouths move in sync with their words. Hot spots are large and easy to find.

The box advertises that the graphics are "rich, interactive, 360-degree, 3-D." Graphic scenery is pleasant on the eyes and realistic, but the player does not have free movement in all directions, as the description implies. In fact, in one or two spots the player cannot get the direction cursor at all, even though you should be able to turn there.

There are three "Challenge" levels to chose from when beginning a new game: Junior Detective, Senior Detective and Master Detective. Unfortunately, the only "challenge" happens during several timed sequences in the game. (Are experienced adventurers supposed to be faster than inexperienced ones?) More difficult puzzles for higher experience levels would have been a better choice. And speaking of puzzles, there are very few. The game is literally riddled with crytographic puzzles, but the majority of those puzzles provide no rewards and no real clues to the case.

I'm not a particularly virtuous person myself, but if this game is truly intended for children, there is one part that bothers me. Do we really want our kids to know that they can use a plastic card to unlock doors? A much better solution would have been to find a master key to unlock those doors. Breaking into buildings and private areas is against the law, isn't it? Certainly the creators of the game could have figured out a more lawful way for Nancy to get into those rooms.

The "20+" hours advertised on the box is pushing the truth a bit. The game is much shorter than that. I played as a Junior Detective and then as a Master Detective. It look me one day (about 8 hours) to get through it the first time -- and only 3 hours to finish it the second.

Billed "For Adventurous Girls 10 and Up", this is indeed a game for beginners. Her Interactive has created an interesting game for pre-teens and younger (boys as well as girls), but as a whole it will disappoint veteran adventure gamers. Let us hope that their next game, Message in a Haunted Mansion will be an improvement.

-- Jeanne Muse