Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake

Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake

Spring 2003 Software
Ages: 10 & Up
Price: $19.99
Platform: windows
Nancy Drew gets a frantic message from her friend Sally to come to rural Moon Lake ASAP. But when the famous teen sleuth arrives, the only sign of Sally is a note warning that she couldn't bear to spend another night at the cabin. Gulp!

In the seventh title of this popular and critically acclaimed series, players again become Nancy Drew and set out to solve another mystery: this time, it's a pack of ghost dogs, eyes aglow and teeth bared, that supposedly haunt the place whenever anyone other than their dead master, a legendary gangster, stays overnight.

As in previous Nancy Drew titles, this one is abundantly rich with animated realism that players must scope out in first-person roaming-style investigation, examining every nook for clues, questioning suspects. Local resident characters deepen the mystery as usual, from the birdwatcher to the general store proprietor to the park ranger--all of them seeming to hide something.

How's this one differ from past Nancy Drew titles? There's more outside exploration for clues in the surrounding maze-like forest, which is fun. And this case seems a little shorter--or is it that we're just getting that much better at gumshoeing (junior detective level, the easiest, of course) and finding secret passages? The games and puzzles also seem easier but add an engaging and even educational diversion. Nancy's now equipped with a PDA that shortcuts noting chores. Entire segments of the mystery have a darker appearance lending to the suspense but making it a little harder to see clearly. And this tale of gnarling ghost dogs may be a fidget scarier than normal.

Only complaint: Too much extraneous info on parklands that isn't particularly relevant to the case. But none of this disappoints fans of the series and newcomers will get sold fast on this great adventure mystery that requires mindfulness and perseverance--two worthwhile characteristics for anyone. Another excellent title from a software publisher that has solved the mystery of quality edu-tainment.

Don Oldenburg   ©2003 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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