Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: November 1999
Note: Original publication date is unknown
The name of Nancy Drew brings back some very warm and tender memories from my childhood. My Aunt Dorothy, schoolteacher that she was, believed that reading was Godly and that books were to modern man what the Rosetta Stone was to the ancients. All holidays and birthdays were rewarded with books of one variety or another, wrapped in softly colored paper and finished with a hand-tied bow. One year, there would be books on geography; another year, they would be about animals or perhaps history. And then I discovered Nancy Drew, and mystery fiction became a passion that I still enjoy.
Therefore, I was thrilled when I heard that Her Interactive had plans to resurrect Nancy Drew and make her the star of a series of adventure games for the computer. The titles for the games in the series are Secrets Can Kill, released in the fall of 1999, Stay Tuned for Danger, released in the winter of 1999, and Message in a Haunted Mansion, still to be released. The concept was for these games to appeal to girls, ages ten and up. Well, I am certainly on the up-side of ten and I have enjoyed every minute of Stay Tuned for Danger. Actually, I consider these games to be ageless and genderless. Anyone who is looking for a fun time at the PC will find it here.
Playing as Nancy Drew, you will travel to New York City and arrive at the home of your friend, Mattie Jensen. She is the female lead actor in the most popular soap opera on afternoon TV. She is very concerned because there have been threats against the life of Rick Arlen, the male lead actor in the same show. Someone has even sent him poisoned candy. He is not taking the threats seriously, but Mattie is. To complicate matters, at one time Mattie and Rick had a close and personal relationship. But then Rick has had a close and personal relationship with many women--married and single. Maybe the threats are a hoax. Maybe they are from a jealous husband. They could even be from one of Rick's jilted love interests.
After a brief meeting with Mattie at her apartment, you will travel by taxicab to World Wide Broadcasting Company, where the program is shot and produced. The travel sequences are simple and are reminiscent of those found in the Sherlock Holmes games, The Serrated Scalpel and The Rose Tattoo. In these games, when you discover a clue, a new address (related to the clue) appears on your map.
When you arrive at the studio, you explore until you are comfortable with your surroundings and the floor plan, then you go to Mattie's dressing room. After you and Mattie chat, she will leave you to go to the sound stage to begin her acting day. This will give you the opportunity to look around her dressing room. Remember that you are a detective. Examine everything. Among other things, you see magazine and newspaper articles about the show. There seem to be rumors that Rick is planning to leave the show. Could his potential exit be behind the threats? Or is it his habitual womanizing? Or is he making the threats himself for publicity purposes? The possibilities are staggering.
When you meet Rick, you will clearly understand why someone would want to murder him. First of all, he is a terrible male chauvinist. His ego is as big as Mount Rushmore, and he preens like the epitome of a pretty boy. He is the kind of cad that you love to hate. Even the actor who does Rick's voice-overs has him pegged. He plays Rick as a pompous and egotistical bore. When Rick leaves for the sound stage, look around his dressing room also.
Later that same day you are present when an overhead light falls perilously close to Rick during the filming of a show segment. Now it is clear that the death threats are real and that Rick is the target of an evil and demented person.
You will meet many other characters in this game. Some will be peculiar enough to make you think that they are the potential murderer, and some are just flighty and silly. There are a number of red herrings in Stay Tuned for Danger, and they serve to round out the story nicely.
I don't want to tell you much more about the plot. You should discover these little delights yourself. But the following comments on some aspects of this adventure might interest you or be of assistance.
You may choose from three levels of play: junior detective, senior detective, or master detective. I played through at the senior detective level and had little trouble.
Pick up everything that is not nailed down. You may need it to solve a problem or use it in an emergency. Your cursor will highlight these goodies and look like a magnifying-glass. It will turn red around the edges when it hits a hot spot.
The magnifying-glass will turn blue around the edges as you tour your environment and allow you to explore in a 360-degree orbit in many places.
You will find a telephone in the foyer at Mattie Jensen's house. Several names and numbers appear for your use. This is the place to go if you are homesick and want to talk to your boyfriend, Ned. He may also be able to help you focus on important clues and information.
The phone numbers for Bess Marvin and George Fayne, your good friends, are also available. Bess and George will always be happy to hear from you, and they are filled with admiration for Rick and Mattie and are up on all of the latest industry gossip that they will be thrilled to share with you. Some of their tales may help to point you in the right direction.
Whenever you pass through the foyer, you should look for notes or mail on the table or look for packages on the chair.
There are certain game actions and scenes that must take place in the daytime and others that require the dark of night. You may change your environment from day to night by touching the correct hot spot in the foyer at Mattie's house.
The voice-overs for Mattie Jensen and Nancy Drew are good. Rick sounds as obnoxious as he is supposed to, and the heavy New York City accent used by a TV interviewer is overdone but priceless.
The puzzles fit nicely into the plot and don't appear patched in to fill space as they do in so many games. They are blended into the story in a believable manner. The gameplay is point-and-click, which works well for this story.
I enjoyed the graphics. The colors are soft and inviting, and the drawings are crisp and precise. The characters are realistic 3D models with pleasant features, reasonable facial expressions, and smooth body motions.
My only complaint about Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger deals with the number of save-game slots. There are far too few of them. You can overwrite previous saves, but this may cause you a problem further along in the game if you have missed a clue and have to go back to an earlier scene.
Overall, I found this game enjoyable, refreshing and fun. Her Interactive has produced a quality product that they should be proud of. I look forward to next game in the series, Message in a Haunted Mansion, and I hope that they will decide to add more to the series.
Final Grade: B
166 MHz Pentium processor
16 MB RAM
42 MB available hard disk space
16-bit color graphics video card
8x CD-ROM drive
16-bit Windows-compatible stereo sound card
Mouse and speakers