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Her Interactive’s Nancy Drew series is a refreshing challenge for pre-teen and teenage girls. Although much of the software aimed at girls ages 11 and up is insubstantial with questionable educational value, Nancy Drew encourages girls to be independent problem solvers. Girls take on the role of the famous teen sleuth: exploring new places, questioning motives, collecting evidence and analyzing clues. In Nancy Drew’s world everyone has a hidden motive and nothing is what it seems. Teen detectives must navigate through the clues and plot twists with acute observation and attention to detail. Although the conclusion of the mystery is predetermined, players choose their own path to reach the solution.
In Danger on Deception Island, Nancy embarks on a much-anticipated vacation to the San Juan Islands. Upon her arrival, she discovers that the whale-watching boat where she will spend the trip has been vandalized. It is just the first in a string of “nasty” accidents that leave Nancy wondering if the trouble is related to an orphaned orca whale swimming in a nearby channel or if a deeper threat lurks beneath the murky waters.
Players will comb the beaches of the Pacific Northwest coast for clues, kayak on the channels, bike through the quaint town and visit a lighthouse in this thoroughly captivating adventure.
Nancy Drew fosters independence and creative thinking. Players must have the patience and determination of a detective to solve the mystery. Girls will build their observation skills by learning to look everywhere in the virtual world, then returning to look again. Playing the game requires both critical thinking and attention to detail. In choosing topics of conversation with characters, players learn to ask better and more detailed questions to obtain clues.
In addition to the main mystery, the game is filled with short puzzles that boost problem solving skills. Taking pride in solving these games along the way to the mystery’s final conclusion keeps players motivated.
Girls enjoyed playing detective. Some players said they felt “brave” and “adventurous.” Players developed a sense of competency and pride in completing “real world” tasks and solving problems, which kept them interested in this lengthy adventure. Players who had completed other Nancy Drew games like Secrets Can Kill and Stay Tuned for Danger commented that Danger on Deception Island was not as rich in plot or as “spooky” as other titles. Still, players had fun kayaking and liked the “cute” whale at the center of the plot.
Installation is lengthy, but relatively simple. A useful and unique feature is the game’s uninstall function, which allows the user to remove the game from the hard drive without going into the computer’s control panel. This is helpful since this is basically a “one-time” use game (when the mystery is solved the game is over).
Navigation is very simple. Players use a cursor shaped like a magnifying glass to move through the game. The cursor turns red to indicate a clue, an object you can pick up, or a character who will talk to you. Items that are picked up with the cursor appear in an inventory window at the bottom of the screen. Players can get hints by talking with Nancy’s friends on her cell phone or using her laptop to review notes.
A “Second Chance” option keeps the game from becoming frustrating. When you make a fatal mistake, like accidentally blowing something up, you can select the “Second Chance” option on the left of the main screen to return to the last safe place in the game. Seasoned sleuths can select the “Senior Detective” level to increase the challenge.
Girls who love the challenge of solving complex puzzles will enjoy Danger on Deception Island. Playing takes persistence and patience, but concluding the mystery is a huge reward.
PC: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, 200Mhz Pentium or faster cpu, 160 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, -bit color graphics video card, 8X or faster CD-ROM, .return to top of page
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