Stay Tuned for Danger (Nancy Drew #2)

Disclaimer: I posted a rougher version of this blog on my very short-lived Squarespace site. So if you run across a post that sounds eerily similar to this one, that’s probably it.
image from HerInteractive.com
image from HerInteractive.com

Story

Mattie Jensen, a star on the popular soap opera Light of Our Love, invites Nancy to stay with her in New York in order to investigate a series of death threats aimed at her co-star. The victim, Rick Arlen, seems unconcerned about the threats and refuses to go to the police, despite the increasing severity of his stalker’s actions.

One Giant Problem

Stay Tuned for Danger is quite old for a computer game. 16 years old, in fact.

My computer is not old. It is very new.

The two didn’t play well together.

Honestly, I should have seen issues coming when I had trouble getting the game in the first place. I’m an impatient person, so when I finished Secrets Can Kill (Remastered), I went to HerInteractive.com to download the game. Turns out, the company no longer supports the game. Luckily, my mom loves the Nancy Drew games too, and she had our hard copy at her house.

But getting my hands on the game was the easy part.

My computer refused to support the game’s sound, even while running in compatibility mode. Even Logan – magical computer genie that he is – couldn’t finagle it into working. But I’m stubborn, and knew that I wanted to play every single game, so I decided to play it without sound.

Turns out, sound is a big part of what makes the Nancy Drew games fun. It just wasn’t the same without the background music, character voices, and sound effects. It was so much less fun that I ended up starting my Senior Detective game over with the difficulty at Junior Detective, just so things would go by a little faster. And I used the forums way more than I should have for the same reason. I just wanted to move on to the next one.

I do want to give credit to Her Interactive for their work on subtitling the game. STfD’s closed captioning is exceptional, and allowed me to enjoy the dialog even without the sound. Thank goodness, because a great deal of the game is spent in conversations.

Characters/Suspects

The first person Nancy meets is Mattie Jensen, her hostess and the reason Nancy even has her second case. Mattie is concerned for Rick’s well-being, especially since he isn’t concerned for it himself, and desperately wants Nancy to figure out what’s going on. But it doesn’t take long to see that Rick is stealing a great deal of media attention away from Mattie, which could be disastrous for her future career. She is a very talented actress, and it’s not impossible to imagine her bringing Nancy to New York in order to divert suspicion.

Mattie Jensen
Mattie Jensen

Rick Arlen is Mattie’s costar and the center of the case. He has been receiving increasingly threatening notes, culminating in recent death threats and attempts on his life. He keeps writing off these unfortunate incidents as coincidences and accidents, and claims that the death threats are in no way serious. He is so convinced of his safety, he even refuses to go to the police. Could his lack of concern be from fabricating all of the threats himself? After all, they are helping him gain a great deal of publicity.

Rick Arlen, reminding you to
Rick Arlen, reminding you to “stay beautiful!”

Besides co-staring on Light of Our Love, Rick and Mattie share an agent. Dwayne Powers met Rick and Mattie during the early days of their careers, when they played small theater shows together. Dwayne himself never found his stride in acting, and after failing in front of the screen, he has found a place behind it. But he harbors an obvious dislike of Rick. Perhaps enough to kill.

Dwayne Powers in his sad office.
Dwayne Powers in his sad office.

Lillian Weiss is the director of Light of Our Love and lets you know it. From square one she makes it known that she doesn’t like you, or anyone really. In fact, if he weren’t so crucial to the success of the show, she’d be wiling to let Rick have what was coming to him. Even with a strong reason for wanting to keep her star safe, she is resistant to Nancy’s investigation. Maybe because she’s afraid Nancy will find out the truth.

Lillian and her resting ***** face.
Lillian and her resting ***** face.

Above even Lillian on the food chain is Millie Strathorn, the owner of World Wide Broadcasting. Though you’d never know it from the way she keeps herself sequestered away in the prop room. Sometimes it’s hard to know if she even knows she owns the studio. Her sense of reality has become skewed and she has been openly trying to write Rick’s character out of Light of Our Love for quite some time. Could she have possibly snapped and thinks she’s merely a player on a stage?

Mad Millie, owner of WWB and fearless guardian of the prop room.
Mad Millie, owner of WWB and fearless guardian of the prop room.

Gameplay

Getting past the lack of sound took some time and the bug certainly lessened my enjoyment of the game, but it wasn’t the only problem. Her Interactive was still getting into the swing of things with STfD, so the gameplay is rough.

It’s hard to move around in STfD: A big problem when Nancy is constantly moving from one place to another. A lot of times I would click somewhere, thinking that I was going to move in that direction, only to zoom in on something I didn’t care about. And vice-versa.

There’s also a lack of puzzles in this game when compared to others in the series. Rather than having Nancy solve something in order to move on, the game was more concerned about you talking to people and seeing things in the correct order. This probably wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for my utter lack of sound. Even with the sound, the persnickety nature of the game’s progression would have been annoying. At one point, tired of running around trying to figure out what the heck to do next, I looked at the forums – only to find that I had done everything, I just hadn’t zoomed in far enough on one item for it to count. I’d read the information on the thing without actually having Nancy read it. Ugh.

Dangerous, but lovely set.
Dangerous, but lovely set.

Recommendation

While I’m glad I played STfD in order to return to the Nancy Drew series’ roots, I’m happy to move on. I don’t think I would recommend this to anyone new to the franchise, as there are so many other games that are much more polished and enjoyable. That, and if you don’t already own it, you can’t get it.
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