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

Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull

Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull

Spring 2008 Software
Ages: 10 & Up
Price: $19.99
School Use Price: $19.99
Platform: Windows
When last we played a Nancy Drew teen-detective game, our girl hero was tracking a ghost wolf around wintery Icicle Creek. This time, she's off to the Big Easy for an R & R weekend with girlfriend Bess Marvin. But while this latest interactive ND caper is plenty "big" (requiring a gig of hard space), it's definitely not "easy." And you can forget the rest and relaxation.

As always, no sooner does ND arrive than an intriguing mystery presents itself. While Bess heads to the French Quarter, Nancy detours to the Bolet mansion to check on acquaintance Henry Bolet, whose great uncle Bruno mysteriously died. A few steps into the opened door, she comes face-to-face with a creep in a skeleton costume who blows knock-out dust in her face.

When ND comes to, she meets the first of the likely suspects-Renee Amande, the eccentric housekeeper, and punky Henry Bolet, who isn't particularly likeable as he busies himself settling his uncle's estate. And there's curio-shop owner Lamont Warrick and Bruno's longtime doc Gilbert Buford who both have reasons to covet a missing hoodoo crystal skull that was rumored to protect Bruno from all causes of death-all except murder! Like previous ND titles, you play "Skull" from a first-person, 360-degree perspective, prowling for clues, grabbing evidence, pocketing helpful objects (among them, 25 glass eyeballs), while trying to pry info out of suspicious characters. Along the way, ND runs into harrowing moments, especially the encounters with Bruno's exotic pets-iguanas, alligators, and giant spiders.

One big change from recent ND titles is the absence of mundane chores. No cooking dinner or shoveling the skating pond like in Icicle Creek. Instead, "Skull" ups the ante on puzzles. Most of them are fun brainteasers that are challenging, sometimes frustrating, such as the Marble Puzzle (solving it feels like real accomplishment!), the Mausoleum etchings puzzle (confusing at first), and the Rube Goldberg-type puzzle that shoots sneezing powder (dumb fun).

This game's graphics and animation sequences are sharp and detailed. The voices, sounds and music heighten the mysterious. Yes, the Junior Detective mode makes it easier than the Senior Detective mode, adding a notebook and to-do list to ND's gear. But either way, "Skull" is a worthy and worthwhile mystery game, tweaking a long-acclaimed series that now deserves even more acclaim.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 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.

Look for this product at:
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Her Interactive, Inc.

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