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

Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister

Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister

Fall 2010 Software
Ages: 10 & Up
Price: $19.99

In Her Interactive's newest Nancy Drew videogame, the twenty-second in the series, the teen detective heads to Oklahoma during tornado season to investigate a case of sabotaged meteorological research. And, for a girl gumshoe whose recent mysteries include haunted castles, scary carousels and a posh private girl's school, this one's no tempest in a teapot!

As usual for this critically-acclaimed, first-person, role-playing series, the graphics are top-notch, the characters personable, the game-play intuitive, and the mini-games and puzzles challenging-mostly.

Someone has sabotaged a tornado-chaser team's equipment in a sinister attempt to derail the team's tornado-predicting research that could win a $100-million prize. So when the team's gofer goes missing, Nancy goes undercover as its new assistant. That, in a nutshell, sums up the plot.

From the start, a storm's a-brewing. A tornado hits just as Nancy arrives at the research team's farm. Clearing away debris, she finds her first clue--a metal box filled with pay-off money.

But Nancy also quickly finds out that the gofer job requires too many mundane chores-and you, playing as Nancy, find this out the hard way. Instead of the usual suspenseful plot development, the cool 3-D roaming around in search of clues, and the persistent questioning of suspects, this game is driven by way too many tedious tasks.

Sure, there are some story-related, meteorological challenges that are both fun and educational, from studying clouds and taking a computerized tornado quiz to reading Doppler data and pulling together a disaster kit (water, flashlights, batteries, duct tape, etc.).

But, more so, Nancy spends too much time reorganizing a file cabinet, charting an emergency siren system, fixing a sprinkler system, repairing a car, repairing a camera, setting mousetraps to catch mice, restacking the candy display at Pa's General Store, trapping prairie dogs, repairing the cornfield sensors, and rewiring a phone after lightning burns it out. At heart, these are dressed-up Sudoku-style puzzles, pattern puzzles, mapping and logic problems, and simplistic hand-eye mini-games that end up feeling more like busy work than detective work.

What's hard for "Trail of the Twister" is that, like each new Nancy Drew game, it competes not so much with other games out there but with its own series and standards established over 21 previous ND titles. So while this is a good educationally-based mystery game, by Her Interactive's standards it's a bit disappointing.

Note: This the first Nancy Drew title released for both the PC and Mac.

Don Oldenburg   ©2010 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:
Her Interactive, Inc.
Target Stores
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Her Interactive Store

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