Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger

Developer/Publisher:  Her Interactive
Year Released:  1999

Review by Rosemary Young (December, 1999)
ndst.jpgStay Tuned for Danger is the second exciting instalment in the Nancy Drew series from Her Interactive. It is a captivating and imaginative game for budding young detectives that provides a very worthy challenge in solving the mystery. As with the first title, Secrets Can Kill, it is aimed primarily at girls aged 10 and up, but really it is a game that anyone might enjoy.

Untangle the mystery
In this first-person interactive mystery the player's sleuthing skills are once again put to the test as they step into the shoes of Nancy Drew. Nancy has been called upon by none other than Mattie Jensen, super soap-star of Light Of Our Love, who is renting Aunt Eloise's apartment in New York. Mattie has asked Nancy to investigate the threats being made against teen heart-throb, Rick Arlen, who is Mattie's on-screen romance. As Nancy muses at the outset, there is certainly more to this mystery than meets the eye.

So what is going on at Worldwide Broadcasting where Light of our Love is being filmed? Well, there's not only a collection of poison pen letters to sort through, but there's also a suspicious box of chocolates and a malicious teleprompt message to consider. All this is complicated by Rick's tangled love-life amid the rumours of him deserting the show as its ratings plummet.

Detective's dream
Once again this title presents a fascinating gameworld to explore including Aunt Eloise's apartment, Powers' Talent Agency and a number of locations at Worldwide Broadcasting such as the set itself, the prop room, sound studio, and an assortment of offices.

As with the first game the graphics are exceptional and are presented with such meticulous detail that it is a sheer joy to explore. Offices have desks cluttered with pens, papers, disks and, of course, computer equipment, all of which just beg to be rifled through; and the prop room is a treasure trove of paraphernalia squeezed into shelves and piled onto tables.

The puzzles and problems are varied and interesting and include interrogating suspects, searching for useful items, sniffing out clues and opening secret passageways. In the process there's a torn scrap of paper to piece together, a Hanoi Tower puzzle to complete and I must mention all the mysterious cryptic notes sprinkled around which have become a trademark of this series and really do add a lot of fun to the game play. These take the form of simple ciphers or other word games and, although they don't have to be cracked, it's worth taking on the challenge to get a hint or two. There are also two suspense-filled, timed puzzles that really get the heart pounding, one of which could be a stumbling block for aspiring detectives when playing at the master level. I won't give anything away, but this final puzzle requires fast thinking and fast action and I couldn't solve it without assistance. Although I do have to add that it certainly lifts the pace of the game at this crucial time and fits in perfectly.

Stay Tuned for Danger is a mouse-controlled game and very simple to play. It uses the same magnifying glass cursor as the last game which changes colour when there is something to do or see. Although it works well enough it is sometimes possible to miss the colour change against a busy background. In my last review I suggested that a more versatile cursor might work better and I haven't changed my mind. I also still wish that this series was friendlier towards hearing-impaired players as it would take very little modification to fix this omission apart from the one aural puzzle which might prove a challenge! Having said that, the conversations are well written and clearly delivered, and they are subtitled. What is missing for hearing-impaired players is Nancy's verbal introduction and her passing comments during play. Also, without sound how would you know that there is a tick, tick, ticking of a time-bomb nearby?

New kid on the block
Well, I'm pleased to say that there's most definitely a new kid on the block when it comes to crafting adventure games for pre-teens and teens. This latest endeavour from Her Interactive is more ambitious than the last with improved character animations, a larger gameworld, more teasing puzzles and a more complex story. It's a real treat to play. Because of the added complexity it may be that younger players will need some assistance to solve it, but there are in-game hints available if you telephone Nancy's friends; Bess, George or Ned. Also, at the start of the game you may choose one of three difficulty levels. Still, if parents or older siblings do have to help out then it won't hurt one bit because everyone can share in the fun.

Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger can be purchased on-line from the Her Interactive web site. For Master Detectives who falter at the last puzzle there's help at hand from where you can request the 'extended timer' patch. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1999. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
Win 95/98, P166 (P200 recommended), 16MB RAM (32MB recommended), 42 MB Hard disk space (220 MB recommended), 16 bit color graphics video card, 8xCD ROM (24 speed recommended), 16 bit Sound Card, Mouse.