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Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion (GBA)

You are Nancy Drew. Youíve been invited to your friend Roseís mansion, which sheís trying to turn into a hotel.
When you get there, however, you find out thereís been some strange things going on, and itís your job to investigate.

The game is played from a basically static first-person perspective. That is, the game itself is divided up into a number of individual screens which you navigate to by way of cursor arrows and turning. Turning is done as a full motion to the next available screen in that direction, assuming there is one. You arenít able to actually ďwalk,Ē so to speak, itís just that rooms are broken up into different sections that you can look at one at a time.
That is, if youíre in a room with a door, you can move arrow to the door and select to move through it. You could also press the R or L button to turn to your right or left. If, for instance, you turn to your right from the door, and the screen now presented to you includes something such as a fireplace which can be examined, moving your arrow over the fireplace will indicate this, and selecting it will move you in for a closer view.

Aside from the somewhat different control scheme, the rest of the game itself is rather similar to any other graphical adventure type of game. If youíve played similar games, youíll probably have a good idea what to expect.
Basically, youíre working your way through this mansion trying to discover clues, find items, and figure out where those items and clues can be used. Most anything that can be examined should be, most any item that isnít tied to the ground and can be picked up, itís probably a good idea to pick it up, and one should try to get as much information as possible out of any person one runs into.

Throughout the mansion, youíll come across a number of people that you can talk to. When you approach them to talk, theyíll say an introductory sentence, and youíll be presented with a couple of possible set responses or follow-up questions. Selecting one of the responses will prompt the person to give you further information on the topic youíve brought up. Youíll want to get as much information as possible out of everyone you run into.

You have a couple of additional tools which you can make use of. You have a phone which you can use to call a few of your other friends, and there will be a preset conversation giving you some information depending on where you are in the game. You also have a PDA which will store information on some clues that youíve found.

There are a number of different puzzles and smaller mysteries which must be solved throughout the course of the game, involving items that youíve picked up along the way, clues youíve found, and information youíve gathered from your conversations.

The game is broken up into chapters, which advance based on events youíre supposed to encounter.
Saving is done through a password system, and the only time you get a password is when you progress to the next chapter.

The graphics are very good, although thereís only a few basic views you can get at everything due to the navigation system.
The music and sound in the game is basically nonexistent.

The story in the game is rather interesting, with many clues to find and twists and turns along the way.
It might be worth noting at this point that Iíve never read any of the Nancy Drew books. I know of them, and I know what theyíre about, but, Iíve never actually read any of them. Having not read any of the books, there were a few things I had to take as presented as being fact, such as that certain people in the game were actually people Nancy knew or was friends with, which was probably something that one wouldíve known beforehand had one read the books.
So, if one has never read any of the books, while there may be a few points at which you might feel a bit confused or having to take things at face value as presented, itís still a good story in the game. If one has read the books, I would imagine a number of things in the game would connect to the books, so one has some knowledge of the gameís world before heading in.
Still, despite that, the story in the game was very well done itself, and is very interesting.

Once you do beat the game, thereís not really too much specific reason to go back through the game, youíll probably have encountered most everything there is to do in the game the first time through.
Still, it can be fun to give it another run through once one isnít feeling lost and confused, now that one knows what to do, and can spend more time exploring.

The control setup can be a bit awkward at times, with it sometimes being difficult to figure out exactly where you can go or what can be examined.
The biggest drawback in the game is the password saving system. You only can get passwords at a few set points, so, if youíre midway through a chapter and want to take a break, youíll have to start all the way back at the beginning.
It just feels strange having a password save in a game like this, it seems things would have been much nicer with a battery-backed save.

Nancy Drew is a very fun game if one likes slow-paced adventures requiring thought and planning, careful examination, and figuring out clues. If one isnít fond of those type of games, of course, one probably isnít going to like this game either.
The game certainly has a few problems and areas where it couldíve improved, but itís still interesting to play, and a decent challenge with a nice story and many things to investigate.

While you're likely to get a bit more out of the game if you've read the books, even if you haven't, it's still an enjoyable adventure.

Gameplay: 8/10
Graphics/Sound: 5/10
Story: 8/10
Length/Replay: 6/10
Overall: 7/10