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A Veteran's Review of DOG

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  • A Veteran's Review of DOG

    Allow me to preface this review by saying that I have been playing the ND games for almost thirteen years. Over those years, I have probably played each game over twenty times--the older ones probably over fifty--and I do at least one full marathon of all 33 games (i.e., all 32 and SCK Remastered) annually. As I have gotten older, I have found myself ranking the games, characters, music, etc. in my spare time during marathons, and this year I thought I would write--and subsequently post--reviews of each game while I go through my 2018 marathon (I'm starting a month early). I have lost access to/forgotten about my previous accounts on here, including my very first one, so I made a new one solely for this purpose. That being said, I hope you enjoy my review.
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    Plot: I have mixed feelings about the plot of this game. The beginning is incredibly strong and sets this game up to be in the "scary" lineage. Nancy shows up at her friend Sally McDonald's home on Moon Lake and finds that Sally has "flown the coop" in fear. We get a phone call from her while she is driving to Philadelphia, in which she pleads with Nancy to leave Moon Lake as soon as possible because of, as her conveniently spotty signal tries to mask, Mickey Malone's dogs. Nancy hears some ghostly sounds outside following the conversation and finds Red Knott outside trying (and failing) to imitate a bird call. Soon afterward, a pack of dogs start howling menacingly and Nancy runs inside, only to find dogs with glowing eyes jumping at the doors and windows. It's pretty terrifying, especially the first time. It's a terrifying start to the game, but, unfortunately, the fear tactics go downhill quickly from there. I admit that during my first playthrough I was incredibly anxious walking in the woods, snooping through the tunnels, and investigating the cemetery because I expected to be attacked or have a scary moment. The prolonged absence of a threat is an incredibly good tactic in horror genres, but when the threat never appears...it's a huge letdown. Nonetheless, what this game lacks in horror, it makes up for with the mystery of Mickey Malone. Since this is a kids' game, I understand that they couldn't delve too deeply into the life and activities of a 1920s gangster or push too hard on The Prohibition, but I thought that aspect of the game was handled reasonably well and remains to be incredibly interesting.

    Setting: This game is the first that offers an expansive outdoor setting. I am not crazy about the woods or Sally's yard in terms of aesthetics. There are a few dead leaves scattered on the ground, but the paths are quite clear of any leaves, shrubs, twigs, or anything else that should be on the forest floor when not managed or heavily traveled. Anyone who has taken a walk in the woods can say with certainty that there was a lot missing in those woods that would have made them prettier and more realistic: fungi, moss, lichen, grass, vines, ivy, shrubs, wildflowers (i.e., something besides only ferns), and maybe a creek or stream. Naturally, the woods are going to have a simple but beautiful color palette with lots of rich browns and bright greens, but there is a distinct lack of texture variation, which largely comes from the lack of any plant life besides white oak trees (yes, every leaf I examined was from a quercus alba) and ferns. This is not to say that ferns and white oak trees aren't beautiful because they are extremely beautiful, but I do wish there was some slight variation, especially since Nancy spends so much time walking in the woods. At least the cemetery is spooky and beautiful though. What we get to see of Moon Lake itself is lovely, but there is so little of it visible, it isn't worth saying much about, sadly.

    The indoor locations are either visually stunning or boring. Em's Emporium is okay. It certainly adds to the rural flavor of the area with the lovely antiques--though I'm not sure any of them scream art deco or 1920s to me in retrospect--and the fishing "Wall of Fame" on display among old fashioned signs. I think just about any Cracker Barrel restaurant is probably more attractive than Em's Emporium--admit it, they are going for the same rustic style--but she does have those gorgeous stained glass windows. The Ranger Station is, again, okay. I think it would have benefited from looking more rustic--I love when I find an actual log cabin outfitted as a ranger station--but it has the informative displays and pictures that suit any ranger station.

    Mickey Malone's house is one of the better locations in the game. I love the muted blue floral wallpaper and faded olive green curtains. The ornate antique stove, clock, fireplace, and other furniture pieces really add to the charm and age of the house. The outside looks so cozy and charming, too. However, the best area in the game--and one of my all-time favorites, visually--is the speakeasy. Wow! The colors are so rich and vibrant in this area with varying shades of gold, green, red, brown, orange, ecru, blue, and purple. So beautiful! The parquet floor with that gorgeous centerpiece and one of my favorite design elements, but the inclusion of the stage outfitted with a harp, upright piano, and guitar and the pool and roulette tables are the best touches; I can imagine big band, jazz, and swing music being played while men play games of chance and women in drop-waist dresses order fancy drinks. The portraits of Malone's dogs and the recurring dog-themed art in the speakeasy are excellent touches as well.

    Characters: Unfortunately, I think this game suffers from a distinct lack of well-developed characters, as the only truly likeable or interesting ones are phone characters or dead. My favorite non-phone character is probably Jeff Akers. The poor guy is demonized by Nancy and everyone else throughout the entire game--a fact which has always bothered me, but is even more upsetting because he is the only POC and first black male in the games--for doing his job, owning a dog (that looks nothing like a rottweiler, mind you), and having a criminal relative. Sure, he might be a little "enthusiastic" about giving out tickets for things that feel unfair at times--giving Nancy the ticket relating to fire safety is a bit of a slap to the face, but he only did it because he assumed she had been careless and not been attacked by someone sadistic--but park rangers do have to be pretty strict with the public to protect the wildlife and environment. Nancy's suspicion of him because of his grandfather and desire to acquire more land for the park--which, let's be real, would make his life a lot easier and job more rewarding to him in more ways than one-- is incredibly rude, especially since she never questions the other two characters and their motives, despite them both (and one in particular) having stronger motives than him. Literally, he seems like the most morally upstanding person in the game to the point that he gives out tickets and warnings without bias, despite the backlash he gets from locals and tourists, and yet Nancy only gives him the third-degree. This writing truly upsets me.

    The other characters, Emily Griffin and Red Knott, are equally under-developed, but they, at the very least, are spared from Nancy's rudeness. Red Knott is one of my least favorite characters in any Nancy Drew game. He's so consistently rude to Nancy and such a misogynistic character, and even in his softer, nicer moments, all he cares about are birds and that Nancy doesn't get in the way of his birdwatching. If he would at least share some of his bird knowledge with Nancy--maybe show her some pictures or let her see his favorite bird(s) through his binoculars--he would be slightly more likeable, but instead he acts like Nancy knowing anything about spark plugs is astounding because she's "a pretty young lady." Ugh. I can't stand him. Emily is much nicer than him, though she also insults Nancy about being a "city slicker" and intentionally uses colloquial language native to rural areas, fully knowing that Nancy will probably not understand her. There really isn't much to her either, except that she hates Ranger Akers' policing because it prevents her from dragging the lake for valuable artifacts.

    It's unfortunate that Sally McDonald only gets to be a phone character--I barely call phone characters in replays--when Nancy came out to Moon Lake to see her. It is natural that Vivian Whitmore would no longer live in the Moon Lake area--though her relocation to Las Vegas is hilarious and ironic--but I wish she could had have a larger role in the game. I find her to be the most interesting character that's still alive in the game.

    Music: This game has one of the few soundtracks in the series that I'm not crazy about. The majority of the tracks are spooky and unsettling, which is ironic because the game definitely isn't spooky or unsettling the majority of the time (except during the first playthrough). Two of the songs I find outright irritating (e.g., the tracks titled "Day" and "Forest"), three of them are creepy but not very pretty or enjoyable (e.g., the tracks titled "Danger," "Ghosts," and "Tunnel"), two of them are creepy but also strangely pleasant (e.g., the tracks titled "Spooky" and "Night"), and the three remaining songs are enjoyable but not stellar (e.g., the tracks titled "Malone," "Moon," and "Nostalgia"). "Malone" is probably the only song that feels appropriate to the atmosphere of game because it is jazzy and fun with a slightly unsettling tone, which reflects gangster Mickey Malone perfectly. "Nostalgia" and "Moon" are the other two that stand out to me, probably because they both feature what sounds like a harp. They are both so pleasant, especially with the rest of the creepy or irritating tracks on the soundtrack, and make me think of the moon shimmering over a lake at night, which is appropriate for Moon Lake. I just wish the soundtrack better reflected the game and that the tracks were more varied in terms of instrumentation and tone.

    Puzzles: This game feels quite puzzle heavy to me compared to most of the earlier games. It certainly steps up the number of puzzles from the previous games, and I find them to be reasonably difficult as well, largely because the solutions are not obvious and require a good bit of memorization of certain information about Mickey Malone and his dogs. I can't say I am fond of any of the puzzles in this game, but there are some pretty creative ones, such as the spigots. A lot of the puzzles feel tedious to me though (e.g., collecting bugs, making the soda display, sorting the folders, and taking pictures of the birds). Though perhaps not a puzzle, one of the most irritating puzzles for anyone is probably navigating the forest. During my first playthrough, I got lost so many times that I learned the forest maze perfectly. I actually can navigate the entire forest at lightning speed to any point, especially the cemetery, with no errors. However, that design choice will never make sense to me given how many times Nancy has to go into the forest; it'd be like having to cross the bog using the puzzle every time in The Haunting of Castle Malloy, and I actually really enjoy that puzzle!

    Graphics: The graphics in this game are about on par with the previous game. Each character looks incredibly distinct from the other in both their bodies and facial features. Unfortunately, they still suffer from unusual shoulders and arms, but less so than their predecessors. The environmental graphics are lovely as usual.

    Ending: Funny story, the first time I played the game I was so terrified when Nancy said "That doesn't sound good," in the tunnels. The music instantly changed to one of the creepier themes, so I went bolting to the well and never looked back until I realized I needed a key. So, I went down to the culprit's hideout and found the key I needed as quickly as possible, but I didn't even see the tell-tale notebook on the table and I am almost certain I didn't see the dogs in their cage! I'm pretty sure I assumed it was empty because no noise was coming from the cage. *facepalm* Anyway, when the culprit reveal happened, I was more surprised than I would have been, but still not surprised given that the culprit is pretty obvious, especially once Nancy's focus shifts to Malone's gold in the second half of the game. The escape puzzle is pretty funny--it took me a couple tries the first time because I wasn't being observant enough--and the culprit's weapon of choice is hysterical and slightly terrifying. All in all, it isn't a bad ending, but it doesn't stand out in my mind and searching for Malone's gold was never as thrilling to me as some of other treasure hunts in ND games.

    Other points of interest: The voice-acting in this game is solid, but not noteworthy. I wish more information was relayed via dialogue instead of reading or phone conversations, especially since there are so few necessary character interactions anyway, except to get items needed to progress in the game. I literally forgot to talk to Red Knott after the fire in this most recent playthrough because there is no reason to talk to any of the characters to progress through the puzzles in the tunnels or speakeasy. Also, let me just say that traveling by boat is so annoying and takes up an unnecessary amount of time.

    The Takeaway: It's worth noting that the first time I played this game was on Christmas Day in 2013, at which point I had played games 1-5, 8, 10-14, 17-31, and SCK Remastered. I had been unsuccessful at finding physical copies of some Nancy Drew games (specifically games 6-9, 15, and 16) for years, but I finally got the last few games I was missing from my collection between 2012 and 2014. Thus, I had played the majority of the Nancy Drew games--and all the stellar ones, in my opinion--hundreds of times before I got to these games, meaning that the nostalgia factor was missing and I had learned how to distinguish between a good and not-so-good Nancy Drew game. The first time I played it, I was overwhelmingly excited to finally be playing one of the few ND games I had been hunting for so long, and I was thrilled that I was actually being stumped by the game like I had been stumped by the early games as a child. However, I was disappointed that this game, which I thought was supposed to be terrifying, lacked any genuine scare moments after the grand opening scene in Sally's house. The ghost dogs, which should have a stronger presence in the game given they are the game's namesake, are such a small part by the end, whereas Malone's "dogs" in the puzzles he created are much more lively and present. I think my expectations and the overall story would be better if the ghost dogs had been featured more in the game, or if they had been downplayed and some other threat added tension and drive to the story. If I were to rate this game on a ten-star basis, I would give it four stars, largely because of the poorly developed characters, unsatisfying dominance of chore puzzles, and so-so plot (i.e., the erroneous categorization and improper tone of the game as "scary," which even comes through the music, and the overall focus on the ghost dogs, which play a small role in the game.)

    So the final question is obviously whether I think you should play this game. Again, it depends. If you are a dedicated fan who wants to play all of the games, even the really bad ones, then you should go for it; it's not the worst game in the series. If you've got a good many games under your belt and you're looking for another game to play or if you're new to the ND games, I'd advise you to give this one a hard pass and go for one of the classic titles or fan favorites. Of the classics, I would recommend Treasure in the Royal Tower and The Final Scene (both in my top ten), and I would recommend the legendary fan favorites (also in my top ten): Curse of Blackmoor Manor, Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, and Secret of Shadow Ranch. If a new(er) game is more your speed, and especially if you have already played the aforementioned titles, then I highly recommend Shadow at the Water's Edge, The Deadly Device, Ghost of Thornton Hall, and The Silent Spy (again, all in my top ten).

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    Thank you for reading my review! I hope that my perspectives and ramblings inspire someone to play this game, replay this game, look at it through fresh eyes, or try it for the first time. I should be posting a review of The Haunted Carousel sometime over the next week or so, and I will continue to post them as I complete my 2018 Nancy Drew Marathon...I hope you aren't haunted by my reviews.

    Previous review: Secret of the Scarlet Hand
    Next review: The Haunted Carousel

    Other reviews: SCK STFD MHM TRT FIN DDI SHA CUR CLK TRN DAN CRE ICE CRY VEN HAU RAN WAC TOT SCK2 SAW CAP ASH TMB DED
    Last edited by yukixiaomeimei; December 12th, 2019, 02:21 AM.

  • #2
    Wonderful review!!! We're getting to the point where I'll be reading your reviews right after my own playthroughs, so I can comment with a fresh memory lol.

    I admit that during my first playthrough I was incredibly anxious walking in the woods, snooping through the tunnels, and investigating the cemetery because I expected to be attacked or have a scary moment. The prolonged absence of a threat is an incredibly good tactic in horror genres, but when the threat never appears...it's a huge letdown.
    I have to agree that the lack of "ghost dogs" in this entry is disappointing. Still, like you mentioned, I REALLY try to put myself in the shoes of somebody playing the game for the first time, and I do think it does a good job of creating some anxiety the first time through. I think that it would have been nice to get a small flash of a ghost dog here and there while walking through the woods, EVEN if they never attack again because it would at least make it reasonable to be frightened while wandering around at night. I honestly did feel as though the plot of this game was solid enough without their presence but I do agree that the should have been downplayed in this case being that they're the title of the game.

    Anyone who has taken a walk in the woods can say with certainty that there was a lot missing in those woods that would have made them prettier and more realistic: fungi, moss, lichen, grass, vines, ivy, shrubs, wildflowers (i.e., something besides only ferns), and maybe a creek or stream.
    So, I get what you're saying. But I live in Pennsylvania and the game basically got it right . Our woods really are basically trees and ferns (thought I agree I would have loved to see a stream), and while I agree they could have added that bit of detail, I actually felt like it wouldn't have mattered because it all blends together anyway in real life. The only thing the woods in the game are missing in my opinion are an UNGODLY AMOUNT OF HILLS. There are no flat hiking trails in PA, they simply don't exist lol. I also wasn't a fan of the general "copy and paste" background in the woods. Being that this is a point and click game, they definitely could have done something to make the "distant woods" look a little more unique, or added MORE trees and ferns in the foreground so that you can't see so far (which would basically be like real life.)

    My favorite non-phone character is probably Jeff Akers. The poor guy is demonized by Nancy and everyone else throughout the entire game--a fact which has always bothered me, but is even more upsetting because he is the only POC and first black male in the games--for doing his job, owning a dog (that looks nothing like a rottweiler, mind you), and having a criminal relative. Nancy's suspicion of him because of his grandfather and desire to acquire more land for the park--which, let's be real, would make his life a lot easier and job more rewarding to him in more ways than one-- is incredibly rude, especially since she never questions the other two characters and their motives, despite them both (and one in particular) having stronger motives than him.
    You know from my review that I too love Jeff Akers!!! He is a beautiful character and I was honestly pretty impressed with him considering how badly this "era" of games does on character development in general. I think we disagree a little about parts of his character. Specifically that while I don't disagree that he was demonized a bit by everybody, I actually don't have an issue with the game treating him this way. He IS a park ranger who gives out too many citations, and I think it's realistic that people would dislike him because of this (despite it being their fault, not his.) I also think Nancy has a right to be suspicious of him - I would disagree that BOTH other characters have a better motive than he does. Emily certainly does, but I don't think Red has much of a motive at all. Meanwhile, Jeff stands to gain a lot from acquiring Sally's property and also has a personal connection to the place. Furthermore, he did LIE about his grandfather, which is understandable but still SUSPICIOUS. I think though that the game does right by Jeff by the conclusion. We learn the most about him throughout the experience, he's shown time and time again to be a genuinely nice person and in the end the player comes away with a better connection to and respect for him than the other characters. So I guess it isn't that I disagree with you, I just think the game's attention on his character (both positive and negative) works in his favor by the end and I think that's a good thing. Also, while I SOOO wish she had more dialogue with Emily considering her motive, Nancy DOES have the opportunity to talk about her suspicions of ALL of the characters with her phone contacts so I don't feel like it was all that one-sided. I think it was more that Jeff's grandfather had a direct connection to the mystery she was solving, while neither Emily nor Red had any relation to Malone.

    Red Knott is one of my least favorite characters in any Nancy Drew game. He's so consistently rude to Nancy and such a misogynistic character, and even in his softer, nicer moments, all he cares about are birds and that Nancy doesn't get in the way of his birdwatching. If he would at least share some of his bird knowledge with Nancy--maybe show her some pictures or let her see his favorite bird(s) through his binoculars--he would be slightly more likeable, but instead he acts like Nancy knowing anything about spark plugs is astounding because she's "a pretty young lady."
    And we disagree (slightly) again!! lol. I actually did not hate this guy on my playthrough. He's a bit of a jerk to Nancy, but I think he mostly just wants to be left alone and doesn't like people, which I can totally relate to. Like, if I was an old bird watcher taking time out of my life to vacation in Moon Lake specifically to get some peace and quiet and watch birds, I think a nosy teenage girl literally CLIMBING UP MY BIRD WATCHING TREE to pester me all the time would get on my nerves too. I also didn't feel as though his spark plug comments were all that bad, because when I was in highschool I most CERTAINLY knew nothing about spark plugs. I don't think I know any teenage girls that know much about spark plugs. Bear in mind, I know lots of ADULT women who would know what to do with a spark plug. But Nancy is a sixteen year old girl, which makes it not such an unfair assumption in my opinion.

    Also, let me just say that traveling by boat is so annoying and takes up an unnecessary amount of time.
    OMG ME TOO. I hate when we have to "map travel" period, in the sense of watching something move along the map (I am SO not looking forward to CLK for this reason.)

    All in all, GREAT REVIEW!! Sorry if my comments were more controversial than usual, I just figured I'd try to focus on the stuff we disagree on or haven't discussed yet! But aside from what I mentioned, we basically have a similar opinion of this game and I think a four out of ten star rating is about right.

    Looking forward to the next one!!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you so much! I hate that I've been so busy the past few days and am about to be out-of-town again, meaning that I will be largely off the boards until next week. (This might work in my favor for avoiding MID spoilers/commentary since I can't play it yet either.) ANYWAY, just know that I always look forward to your feedback and will respond as soon as I can, even if days pass by between the time I give it a like and can comment.

      I have to agree that the lack of "ghost dogs" in this entry is disappointing. Still, like you mentioned, I REALLY try to put myself in the shoes of somebody playing the game for the first time, and I do think it does a good job of creating some anxiety the first time through. I think that it would have been nice to get a small flash of a ghost dog here and there while walking through the woods, EVEN if they never attack again because it would at least make it reasonable to be frightened while wandering around at night. I honestly did feel as though the plot of this game was solid enough without their presence but I do agree that the should have been downplayed in this case being that they're the title of the game.
      Yeah, I think I said it somewhere--if it wasn't this review, it was definitely in another --that I thought the game would have been immediately stronger if I hadn't gone into it with certain expectations based on the game's title. I actually think the plot, especially everything revolving around Mickey Malone, is incredibly interesting, but the game sets itself up as a "scary game" and then doesn't deliver. If you judge it as such, it is a major disappointment, especially for one who loves the scary games the most, but without that preconception, it's decently solid.

      I do think that would have helped. With everyone talking about the dogs all the time, even some random howling while I was prowling around the forest at night would have been insanely effective and unsettling. Or howling in the tunnels. SOMETHING. That being said, I was terrified my entire first playthrough because I expected things like that to happen. So, at the very least, a player can look forward to some fear the first time.

      So, I get what you're saying. But I live in Pennsylvania and the game basically got it right . Our woods really are basically trees and ferns (thought I agree I would have loved to see a stream), and while I agree they could have added that bit of detail, I actually felt like it wouldn't have mattered because it all blends together anyway in real life. The only thing the woods in the game are missing in my opinion are an UNGODLY AMOUNT OF HILLS. There are no flat hiking trails in PA, they simply don't exist lol. I also wasn't a fan of the general "copy and paste" background in the woods. Being that this is a point and click game, they definitely could have done something to make the "distant woods" look a little more unique, or added MORE trees and ferns in the foreground so that you can't see so far (which would basically be like real life.)
      That's fair. I have never been to Pennsylvania, and I live in South Carolina, so I am no expert on what the forests look like up there specifically. However, I can say that we, too, have endless hills in the Upstate, and the only places I have seen forests that flat are near the coast. I think I'm especially picky about biodiversity in animated forests because I've become a bit of a plant lady in the last two years. I'm nowhere near botanist levels, but my forest walks now include identifying certain types of plants I see. Yeah, the copy-paste background was the worst part for me, and I totally agree that creating forest density in the distance would have made things look a little better. Honestly, I would have been happy just have trees of varying heights and some nice untamed shrubs/bushes.


      You know from my review that I too love Jeff Akers!!! He is a beautiful character and I was honestly pretty impressed with him considering how badly this "era" of games does on character development in general. I think we disagree a little about parts of his character. Specifically that while I don't disagree that he was demonized a bit by everybody, I actually don't have an issue with the game treating him this way. He IS a park ranger who gives out too many citations, and I think it's realistic that people would dislike him because of this (despite it being their fault, not his.) I also think Nancy has a right to be suspicious of him - I would disagree that BOTH other characters have a better motive than he does. Emily certainly does, but I don't think Red has much of a motive at all. Meanwhile, Jeff stands to gain a lot from acquiring Sally's property and also has a personal connection to the place. Furthermore, he did LIE about his grandfather, which is understandable but still SUSPICIOUS. I think though that the game does right by Jeff by the conclusion. We learn the most about him throughout the experience, he's shown time and time again to be a genuinely nice person and in the end the player comes away with a better connection to and respect for him than the other characters. So I guess it isn't that I disagree with you, I just think the game's attention on his character (both positive and negative) works in his favor by the end and I think that's a good thing.
      I think it's fair that everyone disliked him a bit based on the whole overly-eager-to-cite park ranger thing. Maybe it's because I played FIN, CAR, and DOG in quick succession, but I noticed how...poorly/differently the POC characters are treated in these games. Simone from FIN was awful, but both Ingrid from CAR and Jeff don't come close to Simone. I'm trying to think if any character is as morally depraved as Simone comes across. Anyway, I don't think it has to do with race or racism (or at least I hope it doesn't), but seeing the few African-American characters we have in the early games get treated largely worse than anyone else (and suspected by Nancy more than anyone else) had me reeling for a second. But yeah, I think they still did right by him in the end and he definitely did things worth being a little more than annoyed or suspicious. He has a little character arc, which is nice!

      Yeah...I'm really unsure of what I was thinking about Red's motive at that point, given that it was two years ago. I haven't played that game since I wrote that review either, so my mind is bit fuzzy on the finer details. I think you're right about him not having a particularly strong motive.

      Also, while I SOOO wish she had more dialogue with Emily considering her motive, Nancy DOES have the opportunity to talk about her suspicions of ALL of the characters with her phone contacts so I don't feel like it was all that one-sided. I think it was more that Jeff's grandfather had a direct connection to the mystery she was solving, while neither Emily nor Red had any relation to Malone.
      You know, I really might have to start calling people in the games.

      And we disagree (slightly) again!! lol. I actually did not hate this guy on my playthrough. He's a bit of a jerk to Nancy, but I think he mostly just wants to be left alone and doesn't like people, which I can totally relate to. Like, if I was an old bird watcher taking time out of my life to vacation in Moon Lake specifically to get some peace and quiet and watch birds, I think a nosy teenage girl literally CLIMBING UP MY BIRD WATCHING TREE to pester me all the time would get on my nerves too. I also didn't feel as though his spark plug comments were all that bad, because when I was in highschool I most CERTAINLY knew nothing about spark plugs. I don't think I know any teenage girls that know much about spark plugs. Bear in mind, I know lots of ADULT women who would know what to do with a spark plug. But Nancy is a sixteen year old girl, which makes it not such an unfair assumption in my opinion.
      I will say my opinion of him has softened with time, but I still stick by my not liking him. I'm a borderline hermit, so I totally understand why he wants to be left alone to appreciate birds and not be pestered by a teenager. I could say the same about myself now, though I'm not massively into bird watching. My only question is about the location of his bird tree. It's really close to Sally's house, and I am unsure of how much land she owns, but it might very well be on her property. Plus, if I wanted to be left alone, I would definitely pick a bird watching tree far away from other people's private property. It definitely depends on the person, but it's certainly appropriate not to know about spark plugs at that age. I personally knew about spark plugs when I was a teen, but that's probably not the norm. Still, I thought his "pretty young lady" comment came across as both misogynistic and inappropriate.

      OMG ME TOO. I hate when we have to "map travel" period, in the sense of watching something move along the map (I am SO not looking forward to CLK for this reason.)
      I don't always hate it (e.g., I love riding Bob), but I usually do. The boat in this game is the actual worst, up until the later games when sailing and driving become a regular staple of the games. *insert groan*

      All in all, GREAT REVIEW!! Sorry if my comments were more controversial than usual, I just figured I'd try to focus on the stuff we disagree on or haven't discussed yet! But aside from what I mentioned, we basically have a similar opinion of this game and I think a four out of ten star rating is about right.

      Looking forward to the next one!!!
      No worries! I enjoyed reading your comments, even the controversial ones. Thanks again for the comment, and I'll be looking forward to reading your next one!

      Comment


      • #4
        I think it's fair that everyone disliked him a bit based on the whole overly-eager-to-cite park ranger thing. Maybe it's because I played FIN, CAR, and DOG in quick succession, but I noticed how...poorly/differently the POC characters are treated in these games. Simone from FIN was awful, but both Ingrid from CAR and Jeff don't come close to Simone. I'm trying to think if any character is as morally depraved as Simone comes across. Anyway, I don't think it has to do with race or racism (or at least I hope it doesn't), but seeing the few African-American characters we have in the early games get treated largely worse than anyone else (and suspected by Nancy more than anyone else) had me reeling for a second. But yeah, I think they still did right by him in the end and he definitely did things worth being a little more than annoyed or suspicious. He has a little character arc, which is nice!
        OMG yes, Simone was TERRIBLE. I honestly think how bad of a character she is flies under the radar a bit because she also barely has anything to say to Nancy. And that is a totally valid observation. I think the reason we may differ here a little is that I actually think Nancy suspecting somebody is more of a compliment than an insult, because of the nature of the games. So when a character is intertwined with the story in a way that Nancy suspects them MORE, I think that's a good thing as long as it's done correctly - which it MOST DEFINITELY isn't always, I just feel it was here. I also think I tend to judge how well the game managed a character by how the player interprets them by the end of the story, rather than how Nancy and others interact with them throughout. I think this is just the way I personally judge stories in general, and as a writer I feel that the way the reader (as opposed to the other characters) interpret a character is what's most important at the end of the day.

        I personally knew about spark plugs when I was a teen, but that's probably not the norm.
        I still don't know about spark plugs, so... I also have no idea why his tree would be so close to Sally's house, other than for game convenience - I mean, do we really want ANOTHER map-traveling sequence just to get to Red? I'll take the tradeoff, despite the fact that it doesn't make much sense.

        I don't always hate it (e.g., I love riding Bob), but I usually do.
        What's funny is that I'm playing SHA right now, and I thought EXACTLY that when I took Bob out for the first time lol. I'm willing to admit that the main reason I don't mind in SHA is because I'm biased toward that game, because it's the only time I'm not bothered by it.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jett View Post

          I think the reason we may differ here a little is that I actually think Nancy suspecting somebody is more of a compliment than an insult, because of the nature of the games. So when a character is intertwined with the story in a way that Nancy suspects them MORE, I think that's a good thing as long as it's done correctly - which it MOST DEFINITELY isn't always, I just feel it was here. I also think I tend to judge how well the game managed a character by how the player interprets them by the end of the story, rather than how Nancy and others interact with them throughout. I think this is just the way I personally judge stories in general, and as a writer I feel that the way the reader (as opposed to the other characters) interpret a character is what's most important at the end of the day.

          That’s a really good point, and I have never thought of it that way. I definitely notice Nancy’s feelings and reactions to the suspects, obviously, but I guess I am usually mentally distanced from her when considering the characters and their motives/backgrounds. Nancy might be insanely suspicious of someone that I personally do not think is the culprit, so there’s a disconnect and it sometimes bothers me (usually not though). However, viewing it that way (i.e., that Nancy suspecting them is a sign of good writing for that character and a strong connection between that character and whatever mystery is unfolding), I actually agree. As a fellow writer and former philosophy student, I completely and totally agree with you that the observer/reader’s interpretation of the work and its characters is most important.


          I still don't know about spark plugs, so... I also have no idea why his tree would be so close to Sally's house, other than for game convenience - I mean, do we really want ANOTHER map-traveling sequence just to get to Red? I'll take the tradeoff, despite the fact that it doesn't make much sense.
          No judgment here. I only know about them because my little brother had an educational computer game about cars and engines when we were kids, and then I asked my dad about them and other car parts when I got a car. It’s ridiculous, I know. Yeah, I am sure it was for convenience and to save on animation for a whole different area, but it really doesn’t make sense for him to be there. Still, as you said, I would rather have that nonsensical bird watching situation than have to use that absurdly slow boat.


          What's funny is that I'm playing SHA right now, and I thought EXACTLY that when I took Bob out for the first time lol. I'm willing to admit that the main reason I don't mind in SHA is because I'm biased toward that game, because it's the only time I'm not bothered by it.
          Hey, I don’t think anyone could possibly hate Bob. He is so cute, and I love seeing the 50% transparent screen with back of his head and hearing the clomps and crunches of his hooves as I ride him around the map. I am also insanely biased towards SHA, but it’s Bob we’re talking about here. He could have been in CRE, TOT, or RAN, and I still would have loved him.

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