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There is nothing wrong with having an easy game experience for young players. However, easy doesn’t have to be boring. The amount of walking around from one location to another is inordinate and not much fun. There is no detective work, as the game does all the solving for players. Most of the in-game puzzles have the answers right in front of the players in the form of obvious clues. The mini-games aren’t very engaging, either. It’s hard to recommend this game for even die-hard Nancy Drew fans. Kids are much better off getting the latest Nancy Drew PC game, The Phantom of Venice.
The Clue Bender Society doesn't feel so much like a game as it does a very short story through which you advance by performing a series of very basic actions. A simple game would have been fine for younger players and those just looking for an entertaining mystery, but players of all ages will still find the gameplay tiresome and be disappointed that the story wraps up so quickly. As for what happened to the fun that should have been included in this game, it's a mystery worthy of the great Nancy Drew.
Overall, as a former fan of the Nancy Drew franchise, I really wanted to like this title. However, I found myself extremely bored by the oversimplified gameplay and poor technical aspects. And the fact that the game did not offer any gameplay past the initial story mode, really compounded my frustration with this title. I did like reliving parts of my childhood through the whimsical and fun storyline, but I just can't say that was enough to make me like this game.
Difficulty is never an issue, and the time-consuming back and forth through the mansion leaves you wanting to put the game away. We realize that Mystery of the Clue Bender Society is made for younger players, but most kids today are computer literate at increasingly younger ages. Don't insult them with a gift of self-solving puzzles and the overall poor reincarnation of a literature legend.
The Mystery of the Clue Bender's Society would make a pretty good Nancy Drew novel, or comic book. It's a silly story regardless, but with some crafty writing it could come off exciting and believable. As a game, Nancy Drew on the DS is a train wreck. The real puzzle here is how this game got this far with nobody bothering to put in any real gameplay. There are over a dozen better Nancy Drew games on the PC that incorporate real mysteries and much longer gameplay. Plus they aren’t patronizing and asinine. And Gorilla, here's a clue bender for you. Next time you make a game based on a hugely famous mystery series, actually let kids solve a mystery.
I have a question for the game execs at Gorilla Games: Have you ever heard of play testing? It’s difficult to imagine gamers of any age giving the designers positive feedback on any of the aspects of this game. What’s more likely is that the project was given a miniscule budget and schedule and they did the best they could with what they had and pushed the game out the door. I recommend you do NOT push it into your Nintendo DS. Nancy Drew deserves better than this. If you liked this game, you might also enjoy lithium.