Nancy Drew Games
Okay, readers, I understand this isn’t a totally bookish post, but I have been in love with Nancy Drew games since about Jr. High age and I want to share the love with all of you! I first shared my loved of Nancy Drew in this post. Of course, the way that I became interested in the games was by first reading the awesome books. Many of the games are based on the books, as well. These are my excuses for posting this list on a book blog (plus I really had no where else to post it and I wanted to make a list!)
Herinteractive.com first started making Nancy Drew computer games in 1995 (it looks like, according to their website). They have won 27 gold awards and 3 silver for Parent’s Choice Best Software, ages 10 and up (again, from their site). I think I was in 7th or 8th grade when I played my first one- Message in a Haunted Mansion. I had played a few computer games before this one- a nursery rhyme game in 4th grade, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, and a game about taking a road trip around the world- but I didn’t play computer games very often. This definitely changed after I discovered Nancy Drew games and I became totally hooked!
The first game I played was game #3. Believe it or not, they now have put out 32 “classic” Nancy Drew games with no plans to stop (although there is an extended wait before the next game due to changing over their gaming platform). What follows is my list of my favorite Nancy Drew games in order, with a little bit about each game.
1. Silent Spy
I think this has become my favorite Nancy Drew game! The first time I played it, I remember thinking, “This game is just perfect.” Nancy’s mom died was she was about 10 years old and in this game, she receives a note about coming to Scotland to find out more about her mother’s death. While Nancy investigates her mother’s past and death, she becomes involved with a spy organization and has to do things like plant bugs, use special spy glasses, hack into a computer, and investigate a safehouse. It’s a very modern and current game because it involves investigating a terrorist organization. It’s also very personal because Nancy is investigating her mother and remembering their relationship. There is a lot of danger associated with this game and a lot of cool, but dangerous, cut-scenes. You also meet very interesting characters and take the subway to different locations. I loved all of the spy stuff in this game and the intricate storyline most of all.
2. Curse of Blackmoor Manor
This game may not be everyone’s favorite because it takes a lot of time to complete and has a ton of puzzles. However, I definitely prefer the long games to the short ones and they often have a more in-depth plot and subplots. This game has a really unique premise. Nancy’s friend, Linda, a newlywed, has recently refused to leave her bed or allow others to see her. She believes she is cursed, but ti takes Nancy a while to figure out why Linda is really suffering. The game takes place on a super huge and creepy manor. There are a lot of unique, sometimes creepy, characters, including a very old, but very helpful, parrot. This game also has a lot of “jump starts.” Again, there are some creepy cut-scenes, including Nancy’s dreams. There are a lot of puzzles and challenges in this game, but the interesting plot, the haunting atmosphere, and the ending make them well worth it.
3. Stay Tuned for Danger
I’m sorry to say that they are no longer releasing this game, but you can often find it on eBay. You will need an older system to play it because it’s only the second game. I’ve always loved this one! This game takes place on the set of a soap opera. The male star, Rick Arlen, is getting death threats! This game has a lot of characters compared to most of the games- even though you interact with some more than others. There’s the female star, who you’re staying with, the male star, Nancy’s agent, the security guard, the producer of the show, the director, and the studio owner. Like a lot of the other games, this one has some scary cut-scenes. The threats become increasingly dangerous as the game continues. I also think this game has one of the freakiest villains and endings. The only drawback to this game is you have to do certain things (that are sometimes hard to figure out) in order to trigger certain events. It also had some glitches at first, but there’s a patch available for at least one of them.
4. Secret of the Scarlet Hand
This game is one of the most educational ones and it made me want to work in a museum! Nancy goes to Washington D.C. to help Beech Hill, a museum all about the Mayans, open their new exhibit. Nancy isn’t there long when a priceless artifact is stolen and a mysterious red hand print is left behind. Two things I love about this game is the “voicemail” feature and the fact that you have to call a lot of interesting people on the phone before you can solve the case! I learned so much about the Maya from this one, from their numbering system to their ancient games. Again, the characters are pretty interesting, including all the phone contacts.
5. Message in a Haunted Mansion
This game has to have a high spot on my list because it was my very first Nancy Drew game! Hannah Gruen’s friend, Rose, bought a mansion with plans to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast, but there have been a series of suspicious accidents delaying progress. Nancy goes to help out. This game is pretty creepy. There’s a seance scene, ghost sightings, haunted voices and noises, and an inanimate object that moves on its own. There are a number of interesting cut-scenes in this game and optional plot-lines you can discover and confront characters about. I like the puzzles in this game and they can pretty much be done in any order.
6. The Phantom of Venice
Nancy goes to Italy in this one, which is somewhere I have always wanted to go, being half-Italian! A masked thief has been stealing valuables and the Italian police are stumped, so they call in Nancy. I loved working with the police, as they sent cool spy gear to use and communicated to Nancy in secretive ways. You also have to intercept messages between the thieves. I guess I’m pretty into the spy thing! In this game, one unique feature is getting to have Nancy wear different clothes, including certain disguises which are necessary to solving the case. There are many places to go to throughout the city and you can even take a gondola ride and hear Italian singing.
7. Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon
This is the first game where you get to work with the Hardy Boys to solve a case! Lori Girard, a wealthy socialite, purchased an old train that mysteriously pulled up to Blue Moon Canyon about 100 years ago with a dead engineer and a missing owner. Lori has some of the best investigative minds on board and she’s offering a reward to whoever can solve the case first. In the very beginning of the game, Lori herself disappears! I really liked the addition of the Hardy Boys. Some of their dialogue is just hilarious. Each of the characters is interesting. There’s an arrogant cop, a historical romance author, and a paranormal investigator, along with Lori and the Hardy boys. The train is really intricate with hidden passageways and lots of puzzles to solve. You also make two different stops at other locations throughout the game. The puzzles in this game really contribute to the plot and the game moves along at a nice pace.
8. Ghost dogs of Moon Lake
Nancy’s friend, Emily, bought a cabin out at Moon Lake, but says she can’t stay there because of the dogs. It turns out, as soon as Nancy arrives, ghost dogs begin attacking the house! Nancy decides to stay and investigate even though Emily is long gone. I really liked the atmosphere of this game. You were in the woods, surrounded by nature and a lake, and there was a cemetery behind the house. You take Emily’s boat to visit the ranger’s station and the local shop. You also discover a speakeasy and learn a little bit about prohibition and a gangster!
9. The White Wolf of Icicle Creek
This earns a high spot on my list for kind of a funny reason. In this game, the owner of Icicle Creek Lodge asks you to come and investigate some suspicious accidents. Luckily, due to the accidents, her cook and maid have recently quit, so Nancy has the perfect cover story! As soon as you arrive, there’s an explosion and a wolf’s howl. Strangely enough, I loved doing the chores in this game! It’s a challenge because you have to remember to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the guests between specific times and also to make the beds and do the laundry every day. I also liked the snowy atmosphere and the extra challenge of trying to stay warm when you have to travel around in the snow.
10. Shadow at the Water’s Edge
This game probably deserves to be higher on my list, but I don’t play it that often because it truly freaks me out! I still maintain that this is the scariest game. If I play it at night with the sound up, the lights out, and alone, I won’t be able to fall asleep. In this game, Nancy is in Japan teaching abroad, but the game doesn’t talk about her teaching much at all. At night, she’s staying in a creepy ryokan (inn) that seems to be haunted by the front desk girl’s mother, who died in the ryokan. Because Nancy is teaching all day, this game takes place all at night, adding to the scary factor. As the game goes on, Nancy witnesses guests leaving because of scary happenings. There are terrifying scenes of the ghosts, as well as shadows, room numbers changing, mysterious writing, and doors slamming. Being able to get away from the ryokan to travel around the city and meet a free-spirited girly-girl does not detract from the scariness, but it is a nice change. I like that the danger and fear increases as this game continues and the fact that there are two slightly different endings.
11. The Ghost of Thornton Hall
Speaking of scary games, The Ghost of Thornton Hall has a lot of scary happenings, as well. Jessalyn Thornton has her bachelorette party at the spooky Thornton hall on an island when she disappears. A ghost hunter Nancy has worked with before calls her, asking her to take the case because she’s too frightened to go back to the island. Nancy discovers all sorts of secrets about the mysterious Thornton family. She also keeps seeing the ghost of one of the Thornton family members, Charlotte. Charlotte is wearing the same mask and ballgown as she had on when she died in a fire years ago. I like this game because it’s scary and there are a lot of creepy places to explore. The ending is intense and can be different depending on the choices you make.
12. Danger by Design
Nancy goes to Paris for a design internship, only to find that her boss, Minette, has been acting very strange lately, throwing tantrums and refusing to take off a white mask. Is this behavior related to the threats toward Minette that Nancy uncovers? This game has some great places to explore via the Metro, including the famous Port Neuf – Square Du Vert Galant. It also has interesting characters, including wild Minette, her mild-mannered assistant, the plus-sized model Nancy is staying with, Minette’s ex-boyfriend who is a famous photographer, and a magazine writer.
13. Treasure in the Royal Tower
Nancy is on a ski vacation in Wisconsin, snowed in inside a castle that has some historic places to visit. The eccentric owner flew in pieces of buildings he liked from Europe and stuck them on his own place. Nancy finds out almost immediately that the library was vandalized and as she works to solve the case, she uncovers other long-lost mysteries. I learned so much about Marie Antoinette from this game and it made me really interested in French history. This game has interesting characters and most of them have fascinating backstories that Nancy uncovers. There’s Professor Hotchkiss, who is extremely quirky and knowledgeable about all things French, the French and good-looking ski instructor, reporter Lisa, and the cranky, but loveable, caretaker. This game has a great plot and great subplots.
14. The Final Scene
This game has a lot of unique aspects compared to the other games. In this game, Nancy actually hears her friend, Maya, being kidnapped from a historic theater that is going to be knocked down in three days. The kidnapper warns Nancy she needs to stop the demolition if she wants to see her friend again. There are certain things you must accomplish each day before it automatically turns into the next day. The ending of the game is literally a race against the clock before the building is knocked down. This game has the fascinating characters of a helpful caretaker, a Hollywood star, his ruthless agent, and a “radical” working to save the historic theater. You get to find all kinds of hidden passageways and rooms and learn about Harry Houdini.
15. Alibi in Ashes
This was another Nancy Drew game with a unique format. Nancy is participating in a clues challenge in her hometown of River Heights when a fire starts and Nancy barely makes it out alive. Nancy is suspect number one and she and her friends must work to clear her name and find the real culprit while Nancy is stuck in jail. You get to switch between acting as Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned. You also get to go to Nancy’s house and her bedroom. It was pretty cool to be in Nancy’s hometown, interacting with a lot of the characters from the book. You also have to do more of a formal investigation than usual, finding hard evidence and placing it with the right suspect.
16. The Haunted Carousel
This is one of the shorter games, but I love the setting of it! The Captain’s Cove Amusement Park had a carousel horse stolen, the carousel starting by itself, and the roller coaster stop suddenly, so Nancy comes to investigate the mysterious accidents. Nancy gets to visit a bunch of cool attractions behind-the-scenes and meet some interesting people who work at the park. One of the most interesting “characters” is a robot who tells riddles! Nancy also goes to her nearby hotel and has the option of ordering room service, which is a nice extra. If you’re a fan of amusement parks, this is a fun one.
17. The Labyrinth of Lies
This is another game that takes place at a museum. Nancy comes to help out the museum curator, but also investigate why some artifacts are going missing. Not only is there the museum, but as part of the opening, four actors have been hired to put on the famous story of “Persephone” from Greek mythology. The sets for the play are full of detail, hidden areas, and lots of puzzles. My only complaint about the game would be that there are a lot of difficult puzzles and they aren’t always realistic and fitting with the story. However, there is a ton of interesting dialogue and the characters are really interesting and mysterious. The ending to this game is really unique and it takes a lot of steps and time to finally catch the culprit. I’ve always like the longer endings.
18. Sea of Darkness
Dagne was working with Magnus to find the treasure supposedly hidden by the deceased captain of the ship, “Heerlijkheid.” When Magnus goes missing, Dagne doesn’t know if he found the treasure and left or if something more sinister is at work. Nancy comes to find Magnus and explore the small town in Iceland. The graphics in this game are absolutely gorgeous! You can see the Northern lights and explore ice caves. The characters are interesting and there are a lot of different places to explore. I think every single character had an interesting backstory to uncover. I also love the music. The whole atmosphere of the game is just really nice.
19. The Captive Curse
This game had some really creepy parts! Nancy goes to Germany because the locals report the return of “the monster.” Legend has it that the monster picks one young girl to capture. That’s why it’s really creepy when Nancy’s clothes get torn to shreds and she has to wear an old, traditional costume. There are a lot of places to explore in this game, including tons of rooms in the castle Nancy is staying in. There is a quirky little boy, a sweet and friendly concierge, a goofy, incompetent mayor (?), and a mysterious old storyteller. Nancy discovers some hidden passages and uncovers the legend of the monster. This game gets scary and dangerous at times. It has a good, fast-moving plot.
20. Danger on Deception Island
Nancy goes to help out her friend, Katie, who is trying to start a whale watching business. When Nancy arrives, the ship has been vandalized and a threatening note left for Katie. An orphaned orca whale was found in the harbor and the town is divided over what to do with it. This game had a lot of interesting places to visit- Katie’s boat, a lighthouse, a whale museum, a cafe with amazing clam chowder, and you can take a canoe and discover other places. The sights you get to see in the game are really cool as are discovering hidden messages and communicating with someone unknown.
21. Secret of the Old Clock
This is a very unique game in that it takes place in the past! This is based on the very first Nancy Drew book and in this game, Nancy has never solved a case or been a detective before. She goes to visit her friend, Emily, whose mother has just died. She and her guardian are trying to keep their inn afloat. Emily is disappointed because her eccentric neighbor passed away and didn’t leave them anything in the will like he promised. Nancy decides to investigate and see if there’s another will. In this game, you drive around and make deliveries for extra money, which is a unique feature. It’s fun to be in the 1930′s with no cell phone or computer. This game also has a pretty good plot and some fun puzzles, like organizing pies.
22. The Legend of the Crystal Skull
The environment of this game is really cool. It all takes place at night in the pouring rain. Nancy stops in to visit Ned’s friend whose uncle/guardian recently passed away. She gets caught in the storm and can’t get back to the hotel with Bess, so you switch between playing as Bess and Nancy. Supposedly, the uncle owned a famous crystal skull and Nancy is working to find it. This game has interesting characters, really gorgeous and themed scenery, and some cool cut-scenes!
23. Secret of Shadow Ranch
Nancy, George, and Bess are going to visit George and Bess’s aunt and uncle on their ranch. When Nancy arrives, she sees a ghost horse galloping through town and the aunt and uncle are in the hospital due to finding a rattlesnake on their bed. George and Bess’s plan is delayed, so it’s up to Nancy to solve the mystery alone! I like that you get to take your horse out to different locations. My favorite is the ghost town. The characters are interesting- the Native American woman, the friendly cook, the ranch hand, and the horse trainer. The pace of the game is good with new places to explore and new plot points to discover.
24. Ransom of the Seven Ships
This is a really interesting game and premise. Bess (or is it George?) wins a vacation to an island. George and Bess arrive before Nancy and when she gets there, George runs after the plane, but misses it. It turns out that Bess was kidnapped and another plane won’t be by for a while. The resort and the island are practically deserted! There’s only a parrot, a beach bum, and George to talk to. The note left behind by the kidnappers says that Nancy must find hidden riches in order to rescue Bess. Can she do it in time? Although I love the premise of this game, it’s far down my list just because I really like characters and dialogue and there isn’t a lot of that. I also found a lot of the puzzles kind of difficult to work out.
25. Warnings at Waverly Academy
This was a pretty well-done game. Valedictorians at an all-girls boarding school have been getting threatening notes and put in scary situations, so Nancy goes undercover as a transfer student. Being an all-girls school, there’s a lot of drama and interesting sub-plots to uncover. I think it’s not higher on my list just because a school isn’t as interesting of a setting as settings in other games.
26. Tomb of the Lost Queen
This game isn’t higher on my list because it’s a really short game. However, if it were longer, it would definitely be up there on the list. The game takes place in the interesting setting of Egypt and Nancy goes to help out an archaeologist after there have been some suspicious accidents. In the tomb, Nancy discovers some really cool secret passageways and archaeological discoveries. There are lots of dangerous cut-scenes and interesting characters.
27. The Creature of Kapu Cave
Nancy goes to Hawaii to help out an entomologist (bug doctor) and who does she run into? The Hardy Boys! You get to switch off between playing as Nancy and playing as the Hardy Boys. The local pineapple crop is being destroyed and some locals think it’s the curse of a legendary monster. Nancy does a lot of environmental work in this one. There are a lot of interesting settings and puzzles in this one. This isn’t higher up on my list because there are a lot of “chore-like” things to do and they can become repetitive and boring. The game is also on the shorter side.
28. The Shattered Medallion
The premise of this game is that Nancy and George are in a reality TV show in New Zealand. They have to complete certain challenges and try to beat the other teams. George gets injured crossing a bridge and it looks like sabotage, so Nancy begins investigations. Bess comes to take George’s place. In this game, you get to meet a character who has been mentioned in the other games, but never met. This game is low on the list because it felt more like an adventure game than a mystery and a lot of the puzzles were kind of boring.
29. The Haunting of Castle Malloy
This was a bit of a weird game with a strange ending that I won’t give away. Nancy goes to be the maid of honor to Kyrie, her old exchange student, only to find out that the groom is missing. Nancy also catches glimpses of a banshee as she arrives. Does it have anything to do with the groom’s disappearance? Nancy gets to explore an old castle and explore Ireland. I liked the setting, but the plot was a bit odd.
30. Secrets Can Kill (remastered or otherwise)
This was the first Nancy Drew game, so it’s very different than the others. Her Interactive re-mastered the game a few years ago and added an extra character, changed a few of the puzzles, and added a few puzzles. Nancy is investigating a student’s death at a high school in Florida. This game had a more sinister plot than the others. It’s a much shorter game than the newer ones and the graphics are different.
31. The Deadly Device
A scientist was found dead, electrocuted in a lab. Nancy comes to investigate if there was foul play involved. You learn a lot about science- engineering, technology, etc.- in this one. I’m not a huge science fan and I thought a lot of the puzzles were really tough. The setting is a science facility, which might interest some people, but isn’t my thing. The plot and the mystery itself were fine.
32. The Trail of the Twister
This is another science-themed one. There is a contest for university tornado teams to create a formula that predicts tornadoes. The winner gets a lot of grant money! Nancy comes on board because of a lot of strange accidents. I really liked chasing the tornadoes in this game, but there were a lot of boring chores to do and the game was really quick and short.