The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks

Common Sense Media says

Detective game is fun and educational but a bit convoluted.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This is a game about using brains rather than brawn. Rather than getting into fights and making enemies, the brothers talk to people, look for clues pertinent to their case, and solve puzzles.

Positive role models

Joe and Frank Hardy are good boys, clever puzzle solvers, and smart investigators. They sometimes snoop where they probably shouldn’t and get into dangerous situations, as when they’re forced to try to diffuse a bomb, but only out of a desire to crack the case.

Ease of play

A quick and simple tutorial broken into five categories explains the game’s basic mechanics. It provides a good introduction to world exploration and interacting with objects, but it can be difficult to figure out what to do and where to go next once inside the game proper.

Violence

In one puzzle, if players fail to diffuse a bomb properly they’ll hear a boom sound and see a picture of flames.

Sex

The boys talk about having the opportunity to meet girls and lightly flirt with some of those they encounter by complimenting their appearance.

Language

Not an issue.

Consumerism

This game is part of the long-lived Hardy Boys literary license, but it doesn't advertise any other Hardy Boys products.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Not an issue.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adventure game is completely innocuous. There is no sexuality, no profanity, and, aside from one somewhat tense scene in which a bomb may or may not explode (if it does, players will hear a boom sound and see a picture of flames filling the screen), no violence. What’s more, heroes Frank and Joe are smart, likeable, and driven to unravel mysteries -- fine role models for kids, who will learn about historical places and figures as they travel with the Hardy brothers as they travel about Europe. That said, it’s best suited for slightly older children, if only because it can be difficult to figure out what to do and where to go next. A level of patience and tenacity is required, as well as good reading skills.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's it about?

From Her Interactive, makers of the splendid Nancy Drew point and click adventure games geared for girls, comes THE HARDY BOYS: TREASURE ON THE TRACKS, a detective game for the DS meant to draw young boys to a similar sort of interactive experience. Players take on the roles of the famous detective duo as they travel to historic locations around Europe by train, looking for clues that will hopefully reveal what happened to a treasure that has been missing since Russia’s royal Romanov family hid it nearly a century ago. Players advance the story by talking to characters and working through simple dialogue trees, exploring locations by moving the stylus around the screen to reveal clues and navigational icons, and solving a variety of contextual puzzles, such as finding pieces of a map and putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle, or locating objects of a similar nature in a painting.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

With its good-natured heroes, educational slant, and almost complete lack of any sort of content that could be deemed offensive, Treasure on the Tracks is the sort of game most parents will be able to get behind. What’s more, plenty of kids will be drawn to its intriguing mystery and challenging puzzles. Beware, however, that progress can be slow and frustrating. Despite a PDA that keeps track of items and tasks, we found that from the outset there were instances in which we simply didn’t know how to move the game forward. We were forced to revisit areas and carefully drag the stylus across everything on screen to try to reveal more items and clues. This style of play is common in PC-based point-and-click adventures, but may come off as plodding and frustrating to players used to the sort of fast-paced, instant gratification action found in most DS games. For the patient player, it’s good fun.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the history of the Hardy Boys. These fictitious heroes have been charming kids for more than 80 years in virtually all forms of media, from books and television shows to movies and video games. What is it about their personalities that has kept them relevant and audiences interested for so many years?

  • Families can also discuss the notion of slipping facts about historical places, people, and events into gameplay. Is it done well in this game? Did you feel like you came away knowing more about the real world? Can you think of other games that impart useful informational tidbits in a similar fashion?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
Price:$19.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sega of America
Release date:September 8, 2009
Genre:Action/Adventure
ESRB rating:E for Mild Violence (Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi)

This review of The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old March 25, 2011
AGE
8
QUALITY
 
I really like this game it is one of my favorite! I suggest you buy it for your kids if they like a mystery that is kind of shocking.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models

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