Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: October 2006
Note: Originally published 20 October 2006
Aloha! The second half of 2006 brings us yet another adventure from the world famous sleuth – Nancy Drew. In her 15th mystery – The Creature of Kapu Cave – we find ourselves traveling to Hawaii to assist an entomologist in her search for the answer to a sudden population explosion in moths. Add to the mix a mythical creature called Kane Okala that is running around terrorizing the area, a highly secured biochemical lab doing experiments on plants, and the rumblings of Pele herself and you get the idea.
As a fan of the series of Nancy Drew games, you can expect the same tried and true interface – 1st person slideshow with the familiar directional arrows for navigation, the magnifying glass for examining items closer, and the hand for manipulating objects.
One of the first things that hit me was that this one came on 2 CDs. My initial hope was that it meant this game was going to be longer than some of the previous titles, but all in all it played out about the same – around 5-6 hours without a walkthrough as a Junior Detective. My assumption is that the need for 2 CDs was based on there being some rather large cut scenes and slightly larger locations to explore.
Once again you are joined by the Hardy Boys and actually get to play them this time around. If you ever need change roles from Nancy Drew, you just use your cell phone to call the Hardy Boys and you will now be playing in their shoes. When you want to return to Nancy, you (as either Frank or Joe Hardy) call Nancy. I found this to be a nice touch, especially when you are stuck in playing one role or the other. Can’t figure out what Nancy has to do next or stuck on a puzzle? Jump over and play the Hardy Boys for a while.
Weren’t we here before?
While diehard fans of the Nancy Drew series will not be disappointed, there is a strange sense of déjà vu here. I just couldn’t shake that ‘been there, done that’ feeling. Just like in Secret of the Old Clock and Danger by Design, you’ll be running around doing errands to make money. You’ll deal with people who won’t give you either an object or information until you do them a favor first. At certain points in the game you’ll find yourself running around collecting seashells in order to make necklaces for money. Leave the area and go back and they are repopulated so you can collect more. Going fishing is also required for a favor and money. If you have played other games in the ND series, this should all seem somewhat familiar to you.
I did find some of the areas quite enjoyable. For example, the snorkeling and exploring the inside of a volcano were two high points for me. Unfortunately, some areas seemed too familiar like the shop with the coin-operated video game and coin-operated information center.
Put your brain on auto-pilot…
The game play was somewhat disappointing. I really didn’t feel like I was doing much of my own thinking. I was primarily following orders and completing tasks given to me. Around 80% of the game is like this, which caused me to start to lose interest. Sadly, when I did reach an area where I had to figure out what to do and my interest was piqued, it was at the end of the game. I really wish that area had been much lengthier as it was exceedingly enjoyable.
I really think that method of running errands is flawed. It doesn’t really do anything to enhance the story. If anything, it takes you away from it. They more or less become fillers for making the games take longer to complete. Nancy’s work with the entomologist was grueling to say the least and not fun. By the time I finished it all, I had nearly forgotten what I was doing there in the first place.
I can only assume that Her Interactive knows something I don’t. I felt that Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon was a step in a new, improved direction as I felt I was doing more sleuthing to figure things out on my own and much less ‘busy’ work like in Secret of the Old Clock and The Secret of Shadow Ranch. Unfortunately, it looks like the running errands method has won out. In all fairness, these games are designed for teens and maybe that’s what they prefer.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that you don’t really rule any suspects out in these games. At the end when the culprit is revealed to be person X, they really could have had any of the cast of characters pop out and made it fit. The full explanation that follows seems to be completely new information that you never heard through the entire game – The Creature of Kapu Cave was no exception.
If you are new to the series, I think you will enjoy it since much of this will be new to you. However, if you are like me and have played most, if not all of the games in the series, you might just walk away feeling disappointed, as there really isn’t anything new here other than the setting.
Final Grade: C+
Pentium 1GHz processor
1Gig hard drive space
DirectX compatible video card (32MB)
DirectX compatible sound card (16bit)
24X CD-ROM drive
Mouse and keyboard