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|29 NOV 2004 at 12:31am|
Posts : 281
Joined: 25 JAN 2004
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|NANCY DREW: THE SECRET OF SHADOW RANCH|
Author's Note: Here's a piece that's been sitting in my Reviews file very much lonely and uncared for. It was never published, as I was one of the consultants for this game, but here's my opinion (after all my comments and criticisms throughout game development). I consider it one of my best. Let me know what y'all think. -Ryan
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS … NANCY DREW?
Every time that main theme music starts up, you know to prepare yourself for a new adventure in the shoes of America’s favorite girl detective. In this game, Nancy has proudly accomplished her assignments in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Washington and she’s now taking a ‘vacation’ in the hot and humid deserts of Arizona. Hot on the trail of a phantom horse (they’ll always find a way to fit in some kind of creepy animal), Nancy saddles up to catch the culprit.
From the beginning, it is pretty clear that this game will be much different from its predecessors. Instead of being heartily greeted by a friendly suspect, you must initiate the game by calling your absent host and hostess, who are at the hospital because of a strange accident that happened last night. Your friends Bess and George should arrive soon, too, but their flight is delayed. Oh, well. Detective work is best done alone.
A VERY LONE RANCH
There are only 4 suspects in this game. Now, that usually wouldn’t be a complaint because in previous games, you are running around talking with them so much that you start to get to know them, but Shadow Ranch is the laziest ranch I have ever seen. It’s so lazy, they give Nancy all the chores while they stand around doing nothing. The ranch hand watches over the chickens like the mother hen (even though he looks like he’s taking a leak on them), the cook stirs his pot of stew for endless days and nights, and the stable master gets so frustrated with fixing the crap on his worktable that he has a bad attitude.
Of course, they all have some kind of random secret to hide. Some of them are cheaply woven into the storyline, but that’s nothing new. Nancy Drew is in serious need of some new writers, because the old trick of finding somebody snooping around where they shouldn’t be isn’t as surprising anymore. Some of these characters are so plain it’s like talking to a horse. Nancy will explain about the ghost horse and some of the suspects will shrug it off as if to say, “It comes and goes.” So does the credibility of the game.
HOME, HOME ON THE RANGE
The best way to put this comes from the horse’s mouth of one of the suspects: “This is a workin’ ranch, Nancy. If someone tells you to do something, you’d better get in the habit of doin’ it.”
For you see, chores are a regular part of a working ranch. And as tedious as some of you may find them, I think it’s only part of the realistic feeling of being on a ranch. Furthermore, they are short and sweet and simple and will take about five minutes to complete. Whether or not they were integrated into the game to add time I cannot say, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
The lack of character, however, makes the ranch seem boring. Riding horses is a pain because you have to repeat the same procedure over and over, and it is especially frustrating to figure out HOW to ride the horse if you don’t know how. “Check your girth!” they say. Well, if you don’t have a knowledge of horses, you’re kind of stuck unless you want to go looking around for books and posters that have the information, instead of having somebody say, “By the way, if you want to ride the horse …”
There are several puzzles in which the clues given are so obscure or confusing that you simply can’t make heads or tails of them, and your phone buddies don’t seem too, either, since their hints lead you into a mirage.
Another annoying feature is your tool bar. Every time a new item is added to your inventory, piece of information to your cell phone, or note to your notebook, a plainly visible ! symbol appears beside it and will not go away until you look at whatever was added. Sometimes it is impossible to figure out what letter or syllable was added to any of these things and you give up but are still irked by that annoying mark that urges you to take another look. And you are not allowed to call for help anywhere but the ranch because you have no signal there. How convenient – makes for more riding slowly back to the ranch, saddling up the horse, calling for a hint, saddling up, riding slowly back … that is tedious.
THOSE OTHER DETAILS
The music and voice acting is wonderful, and the graphics are very convincing. But the game runs dry with its great ability to be boring, frustrating, and monotonous.
Some puzzles are challenging, others are ridiculously easy. And it’s really a matter of opinion … if you’re not familiar with baking a cake, you’ll have trouble baking a cake in the game. If nobody has ever explained to you what marzipan is, you’ll go looking in the garden for some purple flower like I did until you wander back into the kitchen to smash the cake when you discover that this ‘marzipan’ is right in front of your nose.
The screen, I am happy to report, is much bigger, and the toolbar is not so clunky. It is sorted into your Cell Phone, Case Notes, and Inventory. This is a feature that allows the player to immerse themselves into the setting. It’s a shame that these welcome additions are partially overshadowed by the game’s sore spots.
The key to this game is to take a break from it whenever you get hopelessly stuck and actually think about it. You might find that with some patience (ping-ping!) the answer will hit you if you concentrate on the problem. While some may see this as another Nancy Drew hit, others may see it as merely a big stumbling block.
FINAL GRADE: B
[size=14][b]Currently Playing:[/b]&&Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis[/size]
|4 DEC 2004 at 11:20am|
Posts : 612
Joined: 25 JUN 2004
Status : Offline
I've heard that this is one of the weaker Nancy Drew games.
There are several that are MUCH better - and cheaper too.
|18 MAY 2005 at 9:34am|
Posts : 18
Joined: 18 MAY 2005
Status : Online
|as a matter of fact i found this game a lot more developed than the other nancy drew games.i lliked the game a lot too. it was very much entertaining. |
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