The theft of a historic carousel horse, followed by the loss of power during a roller coaster ride, has forced the closing of the amusement park until the insurance company can investigate. But the carousel ride has mysteriously started operating on its own, leading people to speculate that the park is “haunted.” Nancy has been hired by the owner of the park to help resolve these baffling happenings.
As with all the previous Nancy Drew titles, the player becomes Nancy Drew and sees this crime setting from her perspective. The 3D graphics are spectacular, although movement is not fluid because it is accomplished by finding arrows to click on.
As Nancy, the player interviews people by choosing from a list of questions. Four employees are still working at the park even though it is closed. After interviewing each one and snooping in their offices, all are on Nancy’s suspect list.
The setting of this mystery is particularly compelling to teens because it allows them to explore the inaccessible parts of an amusement park. They explore the layout of a haunted house attraction; they learn how to change the tracks for the rollercoaster ride; and they fix an old carousel band organ. It also requires them to repair and play the arcade games in the Midway!
The storyline behind this mystery is complicated, and the four suspects each have interesting backstories. The game offers over 20 hours of play on two difficulty levels. Embedded in the mystery are several real-life puzzles, including one in which players use a virtual lathe.
This game is more accessible than the previous seven Nancy Drew interactive games. Nancy has nine locations to visit which can be reached by using the amusement park map. In the previous games, players had to wander around a lot to find key locations.
Other enhancements in this game include the addition of Nancy’s laptop and her cell phone. With the laptop, she can get e-mail help from friends, keep a journal of all her discoveries (so the player doesn’t have to take notes), and list the things that still need to be done (a way to keep the player on task.) With a cell phone in Nancy’s inventory, players can always call Nancy’s friends for help.
All of the Nancy Drew titles, including this one, sport a “Second Chance” option where players can replay a bad decision.
While all seven of the previous Nancy Drew software titles have been good, but this is the best to date. It is easier to navigate; the puzzles combine real life problems with fun arcade games; and the story line in complicated and never too scary. The new navigation and help options let you spend more time doing detective work and less time wandering and taking notes. The “Junior Detective” level is a little easier to play than in the previous titles so it will appeal to kids as young as age 10; while the “Senior Detective” level offers plenty of challenge for older teens. And parents, this teen software has no violence or sexual overtones.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.