Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion Game Poster Image
Confusing, dull adventure wastes sleuth's detective skills.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Setting wrongs right muddled by trying to win a reality TV show, bizarre interactions with other characters.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nancy's a strong, smart, resourceful young woman -- why is she wasting her talents on a reality TV show?

Ease of Play

Easy to play, but obscure puzzles make it far too complex. Puzzles cannot be skipped, causing frustration.

Violence

A character falls from a bridge, is later seen wearing a cast. Nancy ccasionally "killed" by things such as falling rocks: The screen goes black, shows a "Try again" message. One character talks about leaving other characters to die.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion is an adventure game set on a reality TV show which references some of the worst aspects of popular entertainment. Although the point-and-click mechanics are easy to use, the game's puzzles are likely too difficult for younger children, and since they can't be skipped, this will increase the frustration for some gamers. Although no violence is overtly shown, one character falls from a bridge and is later shown with a cast, while another talks about leaving other people to die. Nancy can be "killed" by environmental hazards, but the screen fades to black before anything is displayed.

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What's it about?

In NANCY DREW: THE SHATTERED MEDALLION, the famous detective Nancy Drew becomes a contestant on a reality TV show in New Zealand. In a competition called Pacific Run, she and best buddy George team up to complete challenges and search the island for the pieces of a golden medallion. Along the way, they meet oddball contestants, learn interesting facts about New Zealand, and come face-to-face with faux show producer and mystery clue-dropper (from other Nancy Drew games) Sonny Joon.

Is it any good?

Poor Nancy. Is this what it's come to? The Shattered Medallion wastes the skills of the whip-smart sleuth by putting her on a ridiculous reality TV show. Despite the current popularity of such shows, the premise of putting Nancy Drew on one is inherently flawed, and the game repeatedly confirms this. It starts by putting its heroine in a ludicrously uncharacteristic setting, then fails miserably to pull off the locale. From the closed-room feeling of the announcer's voice-over to the complete lack of visible competition, The Shattered Medallion feels nothing like the competition reality shows we're all so familiar with. Beyond that, its characters and dialogue make it feel more like a David Lynch movie than something you'd see on network TV. Along with the incomprehensible character dialogue, it also fails in terms of graphics. With every new game, we hope developer Her Interactive will modernize its mundane graphics, and, with every new game, that hope is crushed.

In terms of gameplay, Her Interactive has been chucking in optional mini-games for some time now, but they're becoming a pointless distraction. For example, why would there be an arcade (and an auction house) plunked down in the middle of a reality show? Plus, the game's main puzzles often are problematic, and many are borderline unfathomable. These involve cross-referencing multiple pieces of evidence in ways that might never occur to younger players (and many older ones); and even the game's built-in hint system fails to lessen the chore-like aspect of the more arcane ones. Simply put, Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion is one of the worst-designed Nancy Drew games ever made. If this is an indicator of the direction the series is heading, things don't look good for our favorite teenage detective.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reality TV. How "real" do you think it is?

  • Discuss competition shows. If you were on one, would you play fair or do whatever you had to to win?

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