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

Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident

Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident

Fall 2011 Video Games
Ages: All Ages
Price: $29.99
Gaming System: Nintendo Wii

Think Nancy Drew meets “I Spy.” It’s that simple to describe, but it’s not simple at all to win. Start out boating toward a misty and mysterious island where your client, Mr. Malgrave, perhaps the last living resident of the island, asks that you apply your detective skills to find more of the miraculous dust he discovered there. He believes it can cure the world’s ills—and even save his precious Sarah.

Get used to Malgrave’s voice. You’ll hear it throughout the beginning of the game and at times later. He’ll get you started. From there it is one fascinating point-and-click adventure that has detailed and suspenseful graphics and an easy (some would complain slow) pace that lets you prod around in search of items you need to find the dust and solve this mystery. All of it is more fun now that it has come to Wii, which lets you point your controller and click on found items.

First up is the coast and docks. Throughout the game, which plays out in Myst-style first-person wandering, you examine numerous fully-rendered and usually a bit creepy locations—the streets and plazas of a town, a graveyard (not that scary), factory, library, and more.

In each location, you are doing the “I Spy” thing—searching for objects quite well hidden in the rich 3-D graphics and detailed animation. We’re talking all kinds of things—from hedge clippers, postcards and rope to pipe, hacksaws and pitchfork. Oh, and you’ll find postcards all over the places. This stuff won’t just idle in your inventory. You’ll need it later to continue the search. The hedge clippers, for instance, will help you get past an overgrowth of thorn bushes.

The game doesn’t tell you exactly where to go after each step, but navigation is intuitive, so you won’t ever get stuck for long. There are picture-hunt objects to be collected requiring sharp eyes, and handles to be pulled, logic-exercising puzzles to be solved, sparkling dust to be found. Eventually you collect objects not only to get to the end but to repair the dust collecting machine. Experienced gamers who are used to over-the-top graphics and high-action adventures might find this a bit relaxed, if not easy (it’s not easy), but younger players will love this mystery. The drama and suspense is palpable, and you will be blindsided by how great a game this is.

Don Oldenburg   ©2011 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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