|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gorilla Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
As far as the length of the game is concerned, this title is relatively short. However, this probably has something to do with the fact that it's aimed at the younger sect. However, if these gamers were looking for anything beyond the story mode, there really isn't much here. There is a mini-game free-play mode, but the mini-games crop up enough in regular play that this just seems repetitive. I really wish there could have been more in terms of story extras or even a clue bending multiplayer mode, but alas, no luck there.
But what is not permissible, is the way this game looks. Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society has to be one of the worst looking titles available for the DS. Characters are represented by misshapen polygons that only barely resemble their respective characters. Lines and textures are also very frequently misshapen and seem jagged.
The only part of this game's look that is not absolutely abysmal is the still frames of characters during the dialogue scenes. The still faces have a comic-book look to them and have a fair amount of detail. However, these scenes are unanimated, and once you get back into the playable portions of the game, the contrast between the visuals is quite clear.
Sound in this title is also pretty bad. Level music is extremely annoying and generally consists of looping single-note compositions that are best turned down. The sound scheme also consists of a few standard sound effects that are mostly unobtrusive. One thing that is noticeably absent is any kind of voiceover, but given the titles literary roots, I am also able to forgive this shortcoming rather easily. However, nothing really saves this title from playing better as a muted affair.
Control is one thing that does work well. During most of the game, you will be exploring your surroundings, and you'll be walking around with the control pad and examining things with the face buttons. When you trigger a mini-game, you'll generally have to switch to stylus control, which will result in what I like to call "the dreaded button stylus shuffle." However, the game at least gives you some time to do the shuffle, and most times, you'll know when the control shift is coming, so I won't knock it too terribly for incorporating shuffle elements, especially since they are only relegated to mini-game play.
Overall, as a former fan of the Nancy Drew franchise, I really wanted to like this title. However, I found myself extremely bored by the oversimplified gameplay and poor technical aspects. And the fact that the game did not offer any gameplay past the initial story mode, really compounded my frustration with this title. I did like reliving parts of my childhood through the whimsical and fun storyline, but I just can't say that was enough to make me like this game.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer