Nancy Drew: Danger on Deception Island

Developer/Publisher:  Her Interactive, Inc.
Year Released:  2003

Review by Emily Sheehan age 14 (January, 2004)
I'm a big fan of Nancy Drew games and I was thrilled when this one arrived. I installed it straight onto my computer and was eager to play.

This was the 5th Nancy Drew game that I have played and reviewed, and there are 9 games in the series so far. Her Interactive is doing a great job and I have no doubt that there will be loads more.

Once again you are the great detective Nancy Drew and your friends Bess and George have set up a vacation for you at Snake Horse Harbour (great name, ay?) on Deception Island. You will be staying with one of their friends, Katie Firestone, who is a marine biologist studying deep water parasitic growth (don't worry I didn't know what that was either). But as you know "crime doesn't go on vacation" and as soon as you arrive you set out on your latest case "Danger on Deception Island".

Unexpected guest
An orca (killer whale) has just swum into Snake Horse Harbour and soon you find that not all the characters agree with each other as to what is going to happen with it. A town meeting was called and Katie especially voiced her opinion and, of course, not everyone agreed. Once you arrive, Katie's boat has been trashed and you find a note saying "Stop meddling or else!". So as Nancy Drew you take on the challenge to find out just who trashed Katie's boat and you'll find out a lot of interesting stuff on the way.

Players familiar with Nancy Drew should have predicted that the game is once again packed with mini games. These can range from putting together a puzzle, to doing quizzes, to completing a chess problem. For some of them you are given instructions but others you just came across and have to guess what to do. I found the puzzles were mostly trial and error. I would find myself taking 15 minutes on one, not getting anywhere and totally giving up. Then, annoyingly, trying again later and getting it on my first turn. I love doing the mini games except some of them, I thought, could have given you a bit more direction as to what to do.

I also enjoyed the investigation, talking to people and learning about them and the local sea monster, and thinking about the motives they might have for hurting Katie. You will pay a visit to a lighthouse and to a marine museum where there are lots of displays of different marine creatures such as whales and dolphins and porpoises. There are buttons to press to listen to the sounds they make. A warning from me: don't forget to use your helmet when you go for a bike ride. Also when you show that you are ready you can use Katie's kayak and explore some other places around Snake Horse Harbour.

Junior or Senior?
I played on Junior Detective as usual and will go back and play it on Senior. Older fans, or more experienced players may wish to just start on Senior Detective. Junior offers a lot more help which I used every so often. I used a walkthrough once, but that was only after I had failed to do something earlier in the game and was then not allowed to go further later on. There are built in hints as well, but only if requested. This is done by phoning your friends Bess and George or Frank and John Hardy.

In your cabin you can access your laptop which you use to: bust anagrams, read emails, surf the net for things that might be useful on your case, or read your case notes and a checklist. The case notes are a brief summary written by Nancy noting what you have already done, they can help if you think you may have missed something. And your checklist lists all the tasks that you have been asked to do and ticks them off once performed. I liked these because once I started to play the game after a break I would double check on what I had done and what needed doing. In your emails you not only receive messages from characters in the game, but from Hannah and your dad. These aren't really relevant to your case but are amusing to read and gradually tell a kind of little story.

Familiar gameplay and graphics
The gameplay is the same as always and even people who have never played a Nancy Drew game before will pick it up easily. Everything is done with your mouse and your inventory is at the bottom of the screen. You just click on the item you wish to use, so there are no controls you will need to learn.

The graphics are once more impressive, no improvement but none was needed. The sound effects and music are again extremely well done and help to set the atmosphere and mood. The voices suit the characters, and the words fit the lip sync well, which I liked. I'm definitely not the biggest fan of poor animation but Nancy Drew games are always impressive and you will have no annoyance there.

Fellow Nancy Drew fans will notice objects in the game that are in other Nancy Drew games. An example of some of these are: a ticket to the Beech Hill Museum, Koko Kringle ice cream and the paintings of Vitus and Lucy on a calendar. Ring any bells? Have fun looking out for them, I know I did and I tried to see how many I could count.

I had fun playing Danger on Deception Island. Over all another great game has been made by Her Interactive, well done! rating:  

Copyright © Emily Sheehan age 14 2004. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, 200 MHz Pentium Processor, 16 MB RAM, 200 MB Hard Drive Space, 16-bit colour graphics video card, 16-bit sound card, 8x CD ROM, Mouse.