Nancy Drew: Treasure in the Royal Tower

Snowed in at Wickford Castle Ski Resort you, as Nancy Drew, pick up the thread of a long-forgotten secret that someone else is desperate to discover first

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Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: August 2001
Platform: PC

Note: Date of original publication unknown     

"Drew ... Nancy Drew." Yes, the famous young sleuth is back in Nancy Drew. In her fourth graphic adventure from Her Interactive, mystery-magnet Nancy Drew finds herself thrown into a situation fraught with puzzling intrigue.

Poor Nancy. She has more trouble having a normal vacation than Die Hard's John McClane. This time around, she heads off for a Wisconsin ski vacation and gets promptly sealed into the ski resort by a vicious blizzard. What's more, the onset of the blizzard was so sudden that very few of the guests and staff made it to the inn. Eek! The result is that our intrepid teen investigator gets snowbound in a ski resort with just two staff members and two guests.

But this is no ordinary resort! The building contains a very old tower that was actually transported from France. In fact, the tower was used by Marie Antoinette herself.

The owners of the Nancy Drew license are fortunate that the Her Interactive team are the ones making the Nancy Drew games. Why? Because they understand what's fun about the character and her stories. Intriguing locations, shady characters with questionable motives, and tricky mysteries that reveal themselves to the patient sleuth are hallmarks of all Nancy Drew stories, and the quartet of graphic adventures capture those qualities.

One criticism that has been leveled adventure games is that the intrusion of puzzles into "real life" situations is silly and unrealistic. In this department, Nancy Drew is a natural for this genre because puzzles go so well with the whole Nancy Drew "vibe." Okay, so maybe you've never had to solve a "Simon"-type lock puzzle to get into a hidden passage in a castle, but it feels completely natural if your name is Nancy Drew.

After four Nancy games, Her Interactive has pretty much gotten the drill down. They've even stepped up to a more ambitious release schedule for future games. The games are solid and entertaining but very modest.

I'm impressed with the steady improvement in several areas. Treasure in the Royal Tower has the best voice work of the four games. It's still not great, but it's definitely moving in the right direction. Also, this time around it's nice that you get to see all of the characters in more than one location, rather than the "bolted to one spot" feeling the characters had when series began.

The format of the game is once again first-person, point-and-click slide show. The graphics are up to the high standard set by the series, and they are highlighted by several lovely "period" paintings that adorn the walls of the inn and its secret rooms.

The storyline is greatly enhanced by its historical elements. Marie "Let Them Eat Cake" Antoinette has always been a controversial figure, and it's good fun to have a character in the game who's bent on proving a wildly revisionist picture of the doomed queen. Any good mystery is enhanced by the promise of a new look at an accepted historical chestnut. Remember The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey? It dared to question the truth behind Richard III's notorious reputation. And from the adventure game world, don't forget the entertaining speculations on the intertwining lives of Richard Wagner and King Leopold in Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within.

For history buffs like me, the Marie Antoinette angle is a compelling addition to the game. I enjoyed the idea of discovering what secrets could be lurking in the dark old tower.

The puzzles are solid. There are some traditional "use the right inventory item here" challenges and a variety of more stand-alone enigmas. There's one particularly entertaining puzzle that requires you to successfully navigate four markers on a checkerboard-like surface.

The general story is serviceable and effective, with each character having at least a little something to hide.

I'd love to see Her Interactive continue to set their sights higher with the series. In fact, I've got my own little wish list of what I hope to see in future Nancy outings:

    1. More characters;
    2. Continue improving voiceover quality;
    3. More save game slots! Pretty please!
    4. Less clunky game menu system;
    5. Give Nancy a chance to deduce the real culprit!
    6. Multiplayer support and a whole lot of violence and gore. Kidding! (Nancy Drew Team Arena Deathmatch!)

I enjoyed myself while spending time with my old pal Nancy in Treasure in the Royal Tower, and I look forward to her next adventure, Nancy Drew: The Final Scene (due in November!).

Final Grade: B
System Requirements:

  • Windows 95/98/ME/2000 Professional
  • 166 MHz Processor
  • 16 MB RAM
  • 128 MB available hard disk space
  • 16-bit color graphics video card that's compatible with DirectX 6 or higher
  • 8x CD-ROM drive
  • 16-bit compatible sound card
  • DirectX 7.0 or higher
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