Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nancy Drew Classics Turned Interactive & Educational for Kids Ages 10+ -- Shadow at the Water's Edge Mystery #23 Now Available

Nancy Drew Leather Biz Card Holder
Designed by Alicia Klein

Readers Note:  Don't miss the vintage style Nancy Drew leather business card holder by Alicia Klein GIVEAWAY, valued at $55, and sponsored by Her Interactive.

Shadow at the Water's Edge Interactive Review
As a baby boomer I grew up on the Nancy Drew books, the fictional amateur detective series targeting tweens and teens which first appeared in 1930.   My mom did too, and so did my maternal grandmother.  Now recently, both my own sons and daughters have also begun to delve into the pages of these wonderful mysteries.  And we are not alone because four generations of women and girls -- and many men and boys -- the world over have enjoyed Nancy Drew as much, if not more, than we have.

So, when Her Interactive asked me to review their Nancy Drew Shadow at the Water's Edge - Mystery #23 computer adventure game at first I was intrigued.  Then, as I waited for the game to arrive in the mail, I starting thinking about it and grew a little skeptical doubting that the old-fashioned Nancy Drew that I knew and loved as a kid could be translated well into a high tech, interactive format.  After just a few minutes of watching over my kids' shoulders as they played this amazingly fun and educational game, I quickly saw how wrong I had been.

Edward Stratemeyer, 1862-1930
Creator of Nancy Drew
Photo from Wikipedia

A Little Nancy Drew History Lesson
The original Nancy Drew titles all carry Carolyn Keene's name as author on their covers, but you may not be aware that Keene wasn't even a real person.  In fact, this was but a pseudonym with various books in the series having been ghostwritten by more than a few different male and female writers.

The real clincher, though, if you didn't know already, is that the Nancy Drew character was actually created by a man.  Precisely, a gentleman named Edward Stratemeyer, who also conceived of other juvenile classic series such as Tom Swift, The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, and others.

Fast Forward to the Present - 23 Nancy Drew Her Interactive Adventure Games Have Been Released - With More on the Way
All of the company's new Nancy Drew products in 2010 collectively celebrate the 80th anniversary of Nancy Drew, with Shadow at the Water's Edge, just released in October 2010, being the newest addition to the hi tech version of the series.  Based on sales so far, it apparently is already a hit with consumers. 

The platform for the newest product is WIN/Mac CD-ROM and the MSRP is $19.99, available boxed or as a download.  Shadow at the Water's Edge, developed and published by Her Interactive carries an ESRB rating of E for ages 10 and up with the caveat that it does have some mild violence (ghosts jumping out to scare you, for example).

Shadow at the Water's Edge
A  Japanese Ryokan is the Game's Main Setting
Screenshot by Her Interactive

In this episode, Nancy Drew is in Japan staying at a charming and traditional ryokan (inn) with her BFFs Bess and George.  What starts out as an innocent vacation for the group quickly spirals into something they didn't bargain for when they made their reservations: the discovery that a scary ghost is scaring away the tiny family-run hotel's guests.  Nancy and friends must overcome their own fears and switch into detective mode to solve the mystery with you, the player, joining the investigation.

Shadow at the Water's Edge
Traditional Japanese Garden, Makes for Some Scary Scenes 
Screenshot by Her Interactive

Kid-Tested, Reviewed & Approved
From the moment our copy arrived of this game, all four of my kids, 2 boys and 2 girls (15 year old son, plus GGB triplets, age 13), just loved Nancy Drew Shadow at the Water's Edge, which is the first game in the series that we've had the opportunity to try and review.   In fact, it took a full month for them to fully try this out, which equates to more than 20 hours of fun, learning, and adventure for each of them.  I guess it shouldn't surprise me -- since my kids are all quite different -- that they each identified with a different character in this game and had a unique experience with it.  This game is being marketed to girls, but at least in our own family's experience with it, it is just as much fun for tween and teen boys.  Even young adults who like mystery-based games will enjoy this, I think.

To blog about all the things my kids each thought about Mystery #23 would make this blogpost epic.  So I called on my youngest, most articulate son (the book worm in the bunch) to sum up the experience for his siblings.

Here's what he said
  • It's a good idea to start with the Junior Detective level of the game if this is the first game in the series that you've played.  Like any interactive game experience, it will get easier as you play and get used to how it works.
  • The Senior Detective level is even more fun.  It's the same storyline as Junior, but with more challenging puzzles that include Sudoku, riddles, seek and find challenges, and various other games so it will take longer to play.  Ultimately, if you advance through each level of the game to the end, you'll solve the mystery.
  • This is one adventure computer game you probably won't get easily frustrated with because Nancy Drew is always there to help you like a tutor if you are struggling with an activity.  To make this easier, there's a walk-through mode where she gives you clues when it's too hard for you to figure them out yourself.
  • That's not all.  There is a virtual cell phone that you actually use to make and receive calls during the game.  Too bad it doesn't allow faux Internet access on the phone, too.  Makes me and my brother and sisters all want to have our own real cell phones or hand-helds, but that's a whole other story.
  • There's lots to learn about the Japanese culture through participating in the tea ceremony, too.  It's also a fun experience taking an imaginary walk through a beautiful traditional Japanese garden and building your Japanese vocabulary by venturing to places such as the bento booth and train station.  You even get to learn how to write Japanese characters with actual strokes on your computer screen and make origami projects with a few clicks and movements of your computer mouse and keyboard.
  • In the whole game there was only one thing none of us kids could find: the key to the game's movie theater.  Not to worry, though, I still solved the mystery without it and you can too if it happens to you.
  • This game might even get you interested in visiting Japan for real some day (I know I'd like to experience the Japanese way of life).  At the very least, it will inspire you to read more Nancy Drew books from the original series as well as to snap up additional games in the interactive series as they are released in the future.
  • Another really great thing about this computer game, ironically, is that it makes me want to read every one of the original Nancy Drew books as well as all the 200+ Hardy Boy books that were originally created by Mr. Stratemeyer's company early in the last century.
So there you have it.  Out of all my kids, my youngest triplet clearly enjoyed this interactive adventure the most.  Apparently, that's in part because he tells me he has read the most Nancy Drew books in our family, even more than his mom.

Nancy Drew Shadow at the Water's Edge 
Mystery Interactive Adventure Game
Photo by Her Interactive

See a preview of the game HERE.  You can also demo and try a mini game before you buy the product reviewed in this post as well as test-drive many other Nancy Drew interactive titles that are available HERE .  As a bonus, free screen savers based on the latest product are accessible HERE.

Watch for More Reviews on Her Interactive's Nancy Drew Adventure Series.
Coming up in December 2010 Her Interactive is scheduled to release Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. That's right.  You or your kids will be able to do fork gaming (branching in different directions with every choice you make or mini-game you play) with this product to be released later this month.

About Her Interactive
This award-winning company designs, develops and publishes quality mystery adventure games and is the world leader in the mystery gaming category. Her Interactive's Nancy Drew games have sold more than 8 million units with each game surpassing sales of the prior. This success is buoyed in part by the ever-increasing numbers of girls and women becoming avid game players. Nancy Drew players now include moms who have introduced their daughters to the girl detective, making her one of history's longest-running iconic figures spanning multiple generations.  As the number-one PC mystery franchise, since 2004, the Nancy Drew series has even outsold Harry Potter, Myst and Tomb Raider.

Are you a Nancy Drew fan and if so what's your all-time favorite book from the original series?  I encourage you to please leave a comment below and share your ideas.

FTC Disclosure:  I disclose that I am an AmbassadHer for Her Interactive and have received product to facilitate this review.  However, I did not receive payment or other compensation associated with this particular post.   See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one. 

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