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Nancy Drew: Danger on Deception Island

Nancy Drew: Danger on Deception Island

A vacation to a remote Pacific Northwest island runs aground when you, as Nancy Drew, are confronted by a string of nasty "accidents."


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Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: October 2003
Platform: PC

Note: Originally published 14 October 2003

Just when you thought you’d seen everything, HER Interactive finally pulled just the right strings to create the latest – and greatest – Nancy Drew mystery so far.

In this new adventure, Nancy has arrived at Deception Island for a relaxing whale watching vacation with marine biologist Katie Firestone. (You know, of course, that in Nancy Drew’s Detective Dictionary, there is no listing for ‘vacation.’) However, upon arrival, things literally start falling apart from the very beginning – Katie’s boat is vandalized! Nancy’s seen worse crimes than this, but Katie refuses to call in the sheriff. So, off goes everybody’s favorite sleuth on another fun-tastic mystery!

Overall, HER once again grasps the overall feature of the game with a great music score and organic puzzles. I never thought a Nancy Drew game was capable of handling so many brain teasers! In the past, some games have just been made up of many simple puzzles so that the game feels longer after you finish it. (In fact, the very first puzzle of the very first game was a slider. Yikes!) This game, however, incorporates some seemingly easy puzzles that turn out to be hard (like re-arranging books on a shelf), and some simple puzzles that are there just as an extra time-consumer (like making a sandwich). The best part, though, is the ever-friendly Second Chance button, which allows you to let yourself be killed by a falling rock or make Katie a fresh baking soda and Tabasco sandwich. This relieves the stress from the common mistakes that most players make, making the games more enjoyable.

Those of you who (like the rest of us) are joyfully waiting to bike-ride and kayak, beware. (You just knew it was too good to be true, right?) I was very disappointed with the biking feature, although again, compensation is the key here, as the kayaking is rather professional, and seems much more realistic than the subway from Secret of the Scarlet Hand. But, as always, safety first!

On the other hand, however, I’m happy to report that, as usual, I didn’t run into a single bug – that is, until I had to update my video card driver when my mouse decided to do some sleuthing of its own. Otherwise, the game ran smoothly and flawlessly, and there was no lost sleep over this game.


The plot concerns an orphaned orca whale that’s been discovered on the channel. The town is besieged with debates and complaints about what should be done with the troublesome whale. This game carries out the general plot we’ve seen the last few years: an animal, a heated argument, and weird people. The plot here deserves an A.


The voice acting for this game is moderate, and didn’t quite outdo some of its predecessors, but I enjoyed the voices of the local fisherman and café owner. I think more of a variety could have been integrated into the game, but this is compensated for in some of the game’s loyal predecessors. Overall, the voice acting deserves a B+. (Honestly, am I the only one who’s tired of ‘It’s Locked’?!)


I was surprised to see that in this game, the lack of humor is compensated for in puzzles. It’s kind of like baking chocolate chip cookies – you don’t have very much sugar, so you cut that in half and add double the flour. (Don’t try that at home, kids!) However, I was very pleased with the challenges and I persevered! The return of the friendly ol’ slider puzzle and Memory game are a warm welcome, and the more generic puzzles, like wood identification, fixing a kitchen sink, and searching for clams on a deserted beach, are a great new addition to the Nancy Drew games. There are also some activities that players could do if they needed a break, like make a sandwich or build a sandcastle. The puzzles deserve an A+.


Compared to previous games, I think this is a one-way competition. Deception Island is truly the game that Nancy Drew and mystery fans have been waiting for. The puzzles are better, the concept is better, and the historical piece of the puzzle is intriguing, as well. Alas, with every game there must be faults. Here comes the Nitpicker’s Corner:

  • More Unique Puzzles. No more sliders or matching – get some unique puzzles into the games, like nonograms.
  • More Character Interaction. Time for those suspects to stretch their legs a bit. There was no ‘sleuthing freedom’ in this game, where your suspect had left the building and you were free to rummage through his personal things. I’m hoping the characters can get to move around a little bit more.
  • Map? Twice in this game we wandered through a maze, and twice in this game we didn’t have a solid map for either. (Especially if you have one, but you just don’t realize that’s what it’s used for.)
  • Hold the Hints, Please. Even in Senior Detective mode, I felt like all I needed was a little hint to get me going – but instead I received what seemed like an answer. Slow down, Hardy Boys!
  • Computer Addiction. In the previous Nancy Drew game, The Haunted Carousel, Nancy’s laptop had a fun Flag game. How about including some more fun games to pass the time, eh?


Hands-down, Danger on Deception Island deserves a solid A – it is the best HER has offered!

Minor improvements can certainly be made as Nancy embarks on her 10th mystery adventure in 2004.

All Nancy Drew fans should be eagerly awaiting the next game in the series, The Secret of Shadow Ranch. After all, it can only get better from here on out!

Final Grade: A

System Requirements:

    Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
    200Mhz Pentium
    16MB RAM
    160 MB hard drive space
    16-bit color graphics video card
    16-bit Window-compatible stereo sound card
    8X CD ROM

Ryan Casey

Ryan Casey

I was born during the golden years of adventure games. My first foray into gaming was with Broderbund's revised version "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" That was around 1995, on my Compaq Presario that my dad wouldn’t let me use every day. Eventually, I captured all 40 criminals and moved on to collecting all other games in the series. That’s when my obsession with mysteries started! :-)Then, when I got a gift card to CompUSA, I found "Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion." Having been turned on to the books by my first cousin (a bad idea on her part, for sure), I eagerly snatched it up and spent hours playing with it. I remember having to order the strategy guide because I missed seeing a vital clue. Regardless, I was hooked on adventure games for good. I got my start at JA when I stumbled upon the site and enjoyed Ray and Randy's hilarious reviews. I emailed Randy and told him I was interested in ‘joining the JA community’ and attached a review of Cameron Files 2 as a resume of sorts. After brief correspondence, my big break came in October of 2003 when Randy asked him to review the latest Nancy Drew game, "Danger on Deception Island."I think my early reviews lacked substance as I tried to figure out how best to go about reviewing, but I believe that I have mastered my own style and take pleasure in reviewing the occasional detective game that comes along. Despite the fact that I cannot find a lot of time for adventure games nowadays, I have played and enjoyed “Scratches,” “Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express,” “Jack Orlando: Director’s Cut,” “Clue Chronicles,” “Tony Tough,” and others. I may be the youngest of the JA crew (not out of high school just yet!), but I still enjoy what I do; my only wish is that I had been born maybe ten years earlier so I could've seen more of the genre's golden age.

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