Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake

Developer/Publisher:  Her Interactive
Year Released:  2002

Review by Emily Sheehan with a little help from Steve Ramsey (December, 2002)
Steve's note ...
Nancy is now like an old friend in our house. Dependable, familiar, always nice to see. She visited again recently and 13 year old Emily immediately whisked her away to the bedroom. Her own impression of Nancy's stay follows.

Emily's report
Well this has been the 4th Nancy Drew game that I have played and I am still enjoying them. Although I didn't really like the idea of Ghost Dogs, this game is mainly about solving mini puzzles, completing tasks and talking to suspects (what else do detectives do?) So I didn't really have to worry about the dogs too much.

You are Nancy Drew and you are invited by your friend, Sally McDonald, to stay at her house to find out just why these Ghost Dogs keep attacking. Sally abandons you because she does not enjoy being around the Ghost Dogs. So you are left there alone, at one scary lake, in one scary house, with a pack of scary dogs after you. Could this adventure get much better?

After a while you have met 3 different suspects. Are the Ghost Dogs genuinely after you, or is one of the suspects trying to scare you off? Although they are very different, each suspect has a motive. This is one very clever point of all of the Nancy Drew games. Every suspect has a different reason to commit each crime. It makes it all very exciting as you find out more about each suspect, and it stays that way up until the very last minute.

My first plan of action was to avoid the dogs as much as possible, which I decided meant staying out of the forest. It seemed like a nice place for the dogs to be lurking. Well my plan was all going smoothly until about 10 minutes into the game when I had to set off into the forest to do a job for one of the characters. So much for plans.

As well as worrying about meeting the Ghost Dogs, I soon discovered that the forest was like a maze. I found myself going round in circles a lot of the time. It becomes easier once you have the map, but being me I'd rather guess my way through.

Let's see, a page from my book that you may borrow - search everywhere! There is so much in the game that you can't afford to miss anything!

As I mentioned the game is full of mini puzzles. I didn't have many problems with these. I love doing them, but Dad pointed me in the right direction with some. They were all quite different though. They ranged from putting together a puzzle, to pulling levers, to completing mazes. For some of them you were given instructions as to what to do, and others you just had to fiddle around with.

There are a couple of puzzles and a task involving Roman numerals. I had already learnt about Roman numerals in school so I knew how they worked. If you aren't familiar with Roman numerals, or are a bit rusty (I know I was), there is information you can find in the game which will explain them.

Sometimes to advance to another place e.g. a room or something like that, you needed to complete a puzzle. I didn't like that with one puzzle, I had to solve it every time I wanted to revisit the area. I reckon that there should have been some sort of short cut.

I played on Junior Detective and only had to get help from the walkthrough twice. There are built in hints, which you get by ringing up your friends Bess and George Marvin, and Frank and Joe Hardy. You do this by using the phone found in Sally's House. The hints tend to point you in the right direction rather then tell you what to do. I used the phone a fair bit. You also have a pocket organiser found in your inventory which will keep case notes for you, and which can give you hints based on the info you already know.

I only died once, but like in the other games you can get a second chance when that happens.

In the previous Nancy Drew games there is an alarm clock used to jump forward in time. This is helpful because some things may only be done at night, and others during the day. This game had a slightly different approach. Instead of changing the clock, if you walked up the stairs in Sally's house you were given the option of whether you'd like to come back down with it being AM or PM. I liked this way better because it wasn't as complicated.

Something else new. In your inventory there are things you can use, and things you can look at such as a map or your pocket organiser. If you could look at something, then there would be an icon of an eye at the bottom of it.

The graphics and sound were once again impressive. The lip sync fitted the voices well, and the actors doing the voices for the parts played them well. There were good sound effects, such as squeaky floor boards and crickets at night. The music helped set the mood; I found if the music was spooky I tended to be a little more cautious.

Over all I enjoyed playing the game, but I thought the end was all a bit too sudden. I'd give it an eight and a half out of ten.

Steve again ...
Occasionally looking over Emily's shoulder, I too found the graphics and the lip-syncing impressive. Also, you get a nice scenic backdrop as you move from one location to another on the lake using your boat. (Emily says she liked this better than the map of the underground in the last game).

Clearly, Nancy still entertains. rating:  

Copyright © Emily Sheehan with a little help from Steve Ramsey 2002. All rights reserved.

System Requirements
Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP, Pentium 166 or faster processor, 16 MB RAM, 150 MB disc space, 16 bit colour graphics card, 8x CD ROM or faster, 16 bit Windows compatible sound card, mouse, speakers.
This game has subtitles throughout.