Monthly Archives: April 2013

Nancy Drew: Treasure in the Royal Tower

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Her Interactive made Treasure in the Royal Tower in June of 2001.  This is the first game I ever played, so it holds special memories for me.  The game is rated E for Everyone.  It’s made for Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7.

Nancy Drew is vacationing in snowy Wisconsin at the Wickford Castle Ski Resort.  When she arrives, she discovers that the library is off limits because someone decided to vandalize it for apparently no reason.  Not only that, but some lady named Professor Hotchkiss is talking about her room being robbed.  However, Professor Hotchkiss won’t talk to anyone about what is missing.  Is there a story behind these weird occurrences?

The Characters:

Dextar Egan:  He is the caretaker of the resort, filling in for the owner Christi Lane.  He was adopted by the caste’s original owner.  He doesn’t like to talk about his history with the original owner, even though he was adopted.  What is going on with that?

Jacques Brunais:  A Frenchman who was an Olympic skier.  He didn’t do so well in the Olympics, so now he works as a ski instructor at the resort.  He is also engaged.  What would cause an former Olympic skier to work as a ski instructor in Wisconsin?  Is it because he was unsuccessful in the Olympics, or because of something else?

Lisa Ostrum:  She is a photojournalist covering the castle for a story.  She seems to know quite a bit about what’s been going on.  Is she hiding something?

Professor Hotchkiss

Professor Hotchkiss

Last but not least….

Professor Hotchkiss:  French history scholar and lover of chicken.  She loves to chat about French history, especially Marie Antoinette.  She apparently wrote a book defending Marie Antoinette.  What is her story for being in Wisconsin?  Is she looking for something relating to Marie Antoinette in the castle?

Cons:

This castle is  very big, and can be complicated when you’re trying to get into a specific area of the castle.  It can involve a lot of walking around to accomplish a task before you can move on.

The first part of the game can be ridiculous because of the chores involved.  As mentioned before, the castle is very large, so walking around constantly to do this and that for Dexter is…annoying sometimes.

I would say that towards the end of the game, the culprit is predictable, as well as the ending.  I wasn’t surprised by the ending, including how to beat the game.

Pros:

This game incorporates a lot of French history.  When I first played this game, I really liked learning about Marie Antoinette.  Now after learning about the French Revolution, I realize that the background Her Interactive put into the game isn’t too far off base.  Granted, Her Interactive did rewrite history a bit in the game, but that’s what made it enjoyable.

Professor Hotchkiss!  Oh I love that woman.  She’s so funny.  I love talking with her in the game.  Boy does she like chicken!

Some parts of the castle are very beautiful.  The stained glass, and other part which I’m not going to mention because it spoils too much of the game.

The music sounds very French at times, again at certain locations in the game.  I really enjoyed that.

Screenshots from Treasure in the Royal Tower

Screenshots from Treasure in the Royal Tower

Some interesting points

In this game, your perception of one particular character changed greatly as you learned more about them.  This made the character seem multidimensional.

I enjoyed the leaf puzzle because the colors were (again) gorgeous.

There is quite a set up to get into a certain location in the game, as previously mentioned.  It requires putting a few pieces of gameplay together and working out the kinks.  It can be nerve-racking sometimes.

The game twisted and turned because some important items seemed to appear randomly in places where they shouldn’t be.  Hmmm….why is that?  Is someone trying to confuse Nancy?

Gameplay Moments

There were some interesting second chances in the game.  At one point when I was playing it, Nancy died when an elevator landed on her (you’d have to play it to know what I mean).

Nancy got locked out of the castle!  That made my heart race a little bit when I was trying to save her.

Overall Impression

This game holds special memories for me because it was my first game.  However, there are parts of the game that can be irritating at times (chores).  I mean let’s just get to the mystery!  There was a point to the chores though, which is good.  The French history made the game enjoyable, along with Professor Hotchkiss.  This isn’t my favorite game in the series, but it’s still good.

You can see the trailer to Treasure in the Royal Tower here:

You can look at this game at Nancy Drew:  Treasure in the Royal Tower

To see the Her Interactive website, go to: Her Interactive

© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings

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Funny Dog Moments

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Dog with Squeak

Dog with Squeak

My dog has a rubber red toy that looks like of like a Martian.  The toy has two little feet, a big round head, and two little ears poking up.  We call it her “squeak” because it squeaks.

She loves it when you throw the squeak.  Before you throw it, she looks up eagerly, waiting for the big toss.  Occasionally she might lift up one foot in anticipation of a big run.

She runs to get the squeak, occasionally jumping in the air to get it or almost doing a somersault to quickly change direction and get it.  Then she runs back with the squeak in her mouth and her tail high.  You have to tell her to drop it though.  She doesn’t drop it herself.  That’ll continue for about ten minutes.  She quiets down pretty quickly.

There’s another game we’ve come up with her.  It’s called “squeak in a blanket.”  In this game, we hide her squeak in…you guessed it:  a blanket.  We fold it up and throw it on the floor.  She’ll paw at the blanket and move it around to get the squeak out.  We do that when she still wants to play but doesn’t have the energy to go and get the squeak.

It’s hard to tell which game she likes better.  We seem to do squeak in a blanket more because she doesn’t seem to have a lot of energy for a long period of time.  If you aren’t playing with her, she’ll start to whimper until you do.  She might do that at the most random times.  Then when you say, “Squeak?,” she’ll grumble and jump up, grumbling and grrring.  The weird thing is, she wants you to play with her.

Dog Barking at TV

Dog Barking at TV

Another funny thing is when she sees an animal on the screen.  She might be asleep, but if she hears another animal, she’ll run towards the TV grrring at it.  She particularly does this with dogs.  She does not like thinking another animal is in the house.  I’ve seen her sometimes jump hallway across the room when she’s getting ready to “tell the dog off.”  I’ve also seen her do this with a strange person on the screen that she doesn’t like.  It’s usually about a man with a hat.  She does not like that.

She’s so cute when she wakes up from a nap.  When she wakes up, she’ll have her ears forward and she’ll grab some kind of sock or bone or something.  It probably has something to comfort.  She also does this if someone is dropping off a package.  She’ll have her ears forward then, and she’ll hold something in her mouth.  But it’s even funnier here because she’ll be woofing through whatever she’s holding.  If she has a sock in her mouth, she’ll still be woofing through the sock.

Dogs are quite funny.

© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings

Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion

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Her Interactive’s third game was Message in a Haunted Mansion.  This game was made in November of 2000, and is rated E for Everyone.  The game is designed for Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7.  Unlike the two previous games, this one is available through Her Interactive.

In this game, Nancy Drew is called in by a friend (who is connected to Hannah) to investigate a series of mysterious accidents.  Rose Green bought an old Victorian mansion in San Francisco, and is hoping to turn it into some kind of hotel.  Unfortunately, she’s falling further and further behind because of some weird things that have been going on.  The mansion is rumored to be haunted.  Of course, Nancy Drew thinks something else is going on.  So in she goes to investigate the haunted mansion.

The Characters:

Rose Green:  As mentioned before, Rose Green purchased the mansion and is trying to renovate it into a bed and breakfast.  She has spent all of her life savings on this endeavor.  Her friends can’t believe she’s done this.

Abby Sideris:  Abby pitched in her money with Rose to buy the mansion.  She is absolutely convinced that the mansion is haunted.  She believes in the paranormal.

Louis Chandler

Louis Chandler

Charlie Murphy:  He is a community college student working as a handy man to help restore the mansion.

Last but not least….

Louis Chandler:  He is an expert on the Victorian era.  He is doing research in the mansion’s library.  He’s providing his expertise to Rose to help her make the renovations as authentic as possible.

Cons:

I can’t think of too many cons for this game.  The graphics aren’t too bad here.  For being an older game, they’re pretty realistic.

You have to ensure that you are taking notes of all the Chinese symbols in the game.  There is no task list in the game or hint list, so Nancy does not keep a record of the symbols she finds in the game.  If you happen to miss one in the game, you have to retrace your steps to find exact symbol you need (or you can just go to the GameBoomers walkthrough for the answer to the ending puzzle if you don’t want to do all that).

screenshots

Screenshots

Pros:

This game had a little bit of a “jump” factor in it.  I wouldn’t call it scary, but since you’re supposed to be in a haunted mansion, you occasionally do see some kind of creepy shadow or hear something weird.  It can make you jump a little bit if you aren’t expecting it.

This game incorporated San Francisco Chinese history into it.  You learned about Chinese symbols and used them in a big puzzle.  I always enjoy games that have history in them.  There’s also some zodiac stuff in the game.

You have to do some time management in this game because you can sneak into people’s rooms when they aren’t there.  Rose has a schedule of when people are working, so you have to check it regularly and set your time on the alarm clock to wake up at the right time.

There were some complicated puzzles in this game, more so than Secrets Can Kill or Stay Tuned for Danger.  As hinted in above sections, you have to keep a lot of notes to beat the end of the game.  In this way, the game improved greatly from the previous games.

Some interesting points

You have another slider in this game, and also a safe.  I think Her Interactive really likes the slider puzzles.  Me?  They’re okay.  It does get a little old sometimes.

As mentioned before, there were some moments when you jump, like going up the stairs and hearing “I See You” from a portrait.

The game quickly turns out to not being just about the haunting.  Nancy also learns about an outlaw in the game and a love story.  That part of the game is just as fun as discovering what the hauntings are all about.

Gameplay Moments

If you play the beginning of the game right, there’s a séance.  I thought it was a bit cheesy, but it was fun nonetheless.

To break into Louis’ computer, you had to do a “maze game.”  It was kind of like the mini games you find on the newer games.  It was kind of fun the first time.  If you don’t like it, it goes pretty quick.

EDIT:  If you find the overlay puzzle or the slider puzzle in this game difficult, there are plenty of walkthroughs on the internet for it.  Here is a technical support page for the Bird Inlay Puzzle on Her Interactive.  Check other video walkthroughs for a solution to the slider puzzle if needed.

Overall Impression

This is my favorite game of the three I’ve played so far.  I really liked the “haunting” part of it, and learning about the Chinese in San Francisco.  If you can get access to this game, I would highly recommend it.
This is the first game with an official trailer. You can see it here:

You can look at this game at:  Nancy Drew:  Message in a Haunted Mansion

To see the Her Interactive website, go to: Her Interactive

© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings

Gilderoy Lockhart

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Knockturn Alley with Scabbers...

Knockturn Alley Sign

When Harry gets his new class book list for the coming semester, he sees the majority of books are written by Gilderoy Lockhart.   Some titles include Break with a Banshee, Gadding with Ghouls, and Holidays with Hags.  Fred Weasley thinks the new Defense Against the Arts Teacher is a woman.  That just makes Mrs. Weasley’s day.  She happens to be a big fan of Gilderoy Lockhart.

So the Weasleys plan to go to Diagon Alley with floo powder.  That turns out to be a rather sickening adventure for Harry as he ends up spinning really fast in green flames while being transported off to Diagon Alley.

Except he ends up in a very different place.  He ends up in a store with some rather weird stuff, like human bones and evil masks.  It also turns out that Harry is in the wrong place at the wrong time, as Draco Malfoy and his father are there complaining about Harry.  Draco’s father, Lucius, is planning on selling some…unmentionable items.  Draco almost catches Harry in his hiding spot while wandering around looking for a present (what kind of present would this boy be looking for in such a bizarre place anyway?).

Harry ends up escaping, only to be almost kidnapped by scary looking people.  Hagrid happens to rescue Harry, and takes him off to Diagon Alley.  The Weasley boys of course are thrilled that Harry went in Knockturn Alley…their mother never let them in.

Flourish & Blotts

Flourish & Blotts

So off go Harry and the Weasleys into Flourish and Blotts.  There they find the one and only Gilderoy Lockhart in all of his glory.  He’s got his dazzling smile with brilliently white teeth and blue robes that exactly match his eye color.  A reporter from the Daily Prophet steps on Ron’s toe, and Ron complains about it.  Lockhart then looks up and recognizes Harry, causing him to want a picture with Harry.  He can’t pass up an opportunity to be seen with Harry in the public spotlight!  Oh, and that’s just the perfect time to announce that he’s going to be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.  Harry can’t walk into a bookstore without causing attention.  Just lovely.

The crowd whoops and cheers in the little bookstore.  I doubt that the owner of the shop ever had so much enthusiasm in this store over a book.

That excitement continues when Lucius Malfoy runs into Mr. Weasley.  They have a little fight in the bookstore because Lucius insults the Weasley family.  Hagrid has to break the two up.  Mrs. Weasley reprimands Mr. Weasley, talking about what a “fine example” he set for their kids and what Gilderoy Lockhart must have thought.

Gilderoy Lockhart seemed pleased though.  He asked the reporter from the Daily Prophet to work the little fight into his article.

Does everything revolve around Gilderoy Lockhart?  Apparently so.  He can turn a situation that has nothing to do with him into one that boosts his publicity.

© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings

Game Review: Nancy Drew Stay Tuned for Danger

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Stay Turned for Danger Cover Art

Her Interactive created Stay Tuned for Danger in November of 1999.  This has almost the same operating system requirements as Secrets Can Kill, being for Windows 95/98/ME/2000.  However, it is not made for Windows XP, unlike Secrets Can Kill.  This seems strange because Secrets Can Kill was the first game created.  Shouldn’t Stay Tuned for Danger be made for Windows XP, not Secrets Can Kill?

Anyways, the game is rated E for Everyone.  This game was discontinued on November 17, 2011.  Unlike Secrets Can Kill, however, this game was not remastered, although fans on the Her Interactive message boards regularly petition for this game to be remastered.  Her Interactive hasn’t given any indication regarding plans to remaster this game.

In this game, Nancy Drew is in New York on the set of Worldwide Broadcasting Studios at the soap opera, “Light of Our Love.”  She has been called in by Mattie Jensen to investigate a series of death threats against her co-star, Rick Arlen.  In the game, you get to go between the studio, Mattie’s house, and Dwayne Power’s office.

The Characters

Dwayne Powers—He is Mattie’s agent, and becomes Nancy’s agent as well when Nancy is forbidden to enter the studio as a visitor.  Dwayne is a failed actor that knew Rick and Mattie when they were starting off in theatre.  Dwayne appears to maintain a good relationship with Mattie, but he seems to hate Rick with a passion.

Lillian Weiss—She is the director of “Light of Our Love.”  She is a cranky, irritable woman who likes to show people she’s the boss.  Nancy has a number of run-ins with Lillian.  Lillian appears to have a poor relationship with Mattie and Rick.

Mattie Jensen—Nancy has the most contact with Mattie as she is staying with her.  On “Light of Our Love,” Mattie plays the role of Serena Livingston alongside her co-star Rick Arlen.  Mattie Jensen and Rick Arlen share quite a history together.

Millie Strathorn—She is the heir to Worldwide Broadcasting Studios and the propmaster (it’s weird that the person who owns half the studio works in the prop room).  Millie regularly attempts to write scripts for the show, but they are never approved.  She seems to harbor some anger towards Rick Arlen.

Last but not least…

Rick Arlen

Rick Arlen

Rick Arlen—Charm extraordinaire, Rick Arlen plays Rory Danner on “Light of Our Love.”  Nancy has been called in to investigate the threats against him.  Some of these threats include poisoned chocolates, dead flowers, and weird messages on the teleprompter.  Some of the threats include notes that have been typewritten or formed by letters cut out of magazines.  These notes are signed “B. T. Kaisur.”

Cons:

While playing the game, you notice a lot of pictures with the characters in them.  Some of the pictures can be humorous because the characters look like they have the body of a real person, but the head of the character.

One thing I noticed in this game that I should have noticed in the previous game is that there is no task list.  This can make it hard to remember what your next task is in the game.

It was a little too obvious where the cut-out letters came from.  I won’t give that away, but it seemed strange that security couldn’t figure out where the letters came from.  It took Nancy about five minutes in the game…

Pros:

Here’s a big one:  You don’t have to switch discs in the middle of the game!  Very nice.

This game had day/night snooping!  Nancy could *somewhat* advance time…granted it was by going up the stairs at Mattie’s house and clicking on a creepy poem.  Still, that was a nice feature for an early game.

Nancy actually talks the characters in this game.  She doesn’t just say one question and automatically have the character say a paragraph of dialogue.

screenshots (1)

Some interesting points

Again, we were able to see some puzzles introduced that are used in later games.  There was more evidence that Her Interactive is an actual company, such as a cup (I think) in the prop room with the logo on there.

You were able to call a few more numbers in the game that were written down randomly in places.

Gameplay Moments

This game was more tricky than the previous one because there was more involved with the game, and we didn’t have a task list.  I miss the newer games that do have that task list.  I found myself consulting GameBoomers more often just for information on where to go next.

There was a lot of snooping involved.  You snuck into the same rooms over again to find new things that appeared in the game.

There were lots of new areas that opened up as you progressed through the game, the control booth for example.  These areas were not easy to open; you had to find quite a bit of information and put the pieces together to open these locked areas.

It got pretty annoying when you were trying to help Rick not die, and he would just try and flirt with Nancy.  I found myself thinking, “Can’t you just be quiet and actually help?”  Nooo…of course not.  Yes, Rick, you’re great.  Let’s move on.

Overall Impression

This game worked off the original game and added some new elements, such as the day/night snooping.  It was more complicated than the last one; however, it was fun being on the set of a soap opera.  This game was a marked improvement from the original.

You can look at this game at: Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger

To see the Her Interactive website, go to: Her Interactive

© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings

On My Soapbox- “To Disney or Not To Disney”

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Jill's Cabana Stories and Travels

I just finished reading a CNN article regarding family travel to Walt Disney World, and reading some of the comments posted. I guess I had to pull my head out of the quicksand to realize that there are such pro /con issues surfacing about a family trip to see the Mouse. I am such a fan and have had such wonderful times with my family there that the memories still bring smiles to my face. However, I decided to cut through my tunnel vision a bit and respond to some of the more negative feelings about Walt Disney World.

Link to CNN article –

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/22/travel/disney-travel-debate/index.html?hpt=tr_bn4#cnn-disqus-area

1.   Commercialized– Yes Disney is very much commercialized; there is a gift shop at almost all of the ride exits. Did you just get off Pirate of the Caribbean; yep a gift shop is at the exit. Buzz Light-year, again gift shop……

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