Nancy Drew: Treasure in the Royal Tower Review

Those of you who think the Nancy Drew adventure games are for "girls only," think again. In fact, the entire series is great entertainment for the whole family -- young and old, boys as well as girls. In Treasure in the Royal Tower, the 4th game in the series, Her Interactive once again succeeds in bringing the teenage detective to life.

The game takes place in Wickford Castle, a hotel and ski lodge in the mountains of Wisconsin. Nancy's ski vacation is cut short by a blizzard and she finds herself stranded in the beautiful castle along with several other guests. As Nancy, you'll find out what secrets the other guests, the employees and the castle are hiding.

Nancy will meet and talk with 4 characters, all of whom are involved somehow in the "treasure" located in a Tower attached to the castle. The caretaker, a somewhat grouchy fellow, is connected to the secrets in the castle's past. The handsome ski instructor has an agenda of his own and is also looking for the treasure. The other two guests each have different reasons for wanting to get into the Tower. One of Nancy's most difficult tasks is to find the entrance to the Tower, which is not accessible from the main portions of the hotel.

If you've played the prequel, Message in a Haunted Mansion, you'll be very comfortable playing Treasure. Everything about the game's interface, from installation to inventory control, is the same as the previous game. Again, there is a limit to the number of save game slots, something I don't particularly like. And, I am growing tired of the same, exact introductory music. Music within the game is new, however, and provides all the right moods while playing. When an important discovery is made, you are treated with another piece of music to applaud your success.

The graphical atmosphere of the Wickford Castle is like that of a hotel, but with a historical feel. There are classic paintings all over the walls, the floors and some of the walls are drawn to look like marble, tall columns flank the staircase and suits of armour adorn the lobby. Overall, the graphic representation of the characters is realistic enough and their mouths move in sync with their words. Voice acting is excellent.

You are given a choice of difficulty levels when you start the game: Junior Detective or Senior Detective. The story and outcome of the game is exactly the same for both levels, and only some of the puzzles are easier for Juniors.

As a whole, even as a Senior Detective, the puzzles are relatively easy and there are enough clues to help you solve them. Most of them are traditional in nature -- a jigsaw, a few combination locks, and the normal conversation-dependent puzzles. The most challenging puzzle in the game, at least for me, was a board game where pieces most be moved to specific spots on the board. You'll also find some puzzles that are random in nature, so their solutions are different in each game. I was pleased that there were no mazes and no sliding puzzles. There is one portion that might be considered "timed" when Nancy is wandering around in the snowy back yard and could freeze to death if she doesn't hurry.

Overall, Treasure in the Royal Tower is a good game, but not as good as the previous one, in my opinion. In addition to the things I mentioned above, the lesser number of challenging, having to redo puzzles you have already solved, and the amount of backtracking all detracted from a perfect score.

-- Jeanne Muse