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Stay Tuned for Danger: My 2016+ Reviews

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  • Stay Tuned for Danger: My 2016+ Reviews

    Stay Tuned for Danger: My 2016+ Reviews

    Hi there, and welcome to my second 2016+ review! In these reviews, I discuss the Nancy Drew games in-depth and give [mostly] my objective opinions. Last week I reviewed the first game in the series, so today I'll talk about the second game, Stay Tuned for Danger. To do this, I'll break the game up into different categories and discuss my thoughts on each one. I'll also use these star ratings (or something in between) to give an overall evaluation of them:

    « = Not So Great
    «« = Okay
    ««« = Good!
    «««« = Great!
    ««««« = Excellent!

    The last few categories won't use these star ratings; instead, I'll just discuss them. All categories will be considered when determining the game's final score. So let's jump in!

    Plot: «««« ½
    Shortly after the events of the previous game, Nancy is called by Mattie Jensen, a friend of Aunt Eloise and a famous soap-opera star from the show Light of Our Love, to figure out who is behind the death threats that her co-star, Rick Arlen, has been receiving. It started with threatening letters, but slowly, the threats grew more and more twisted. Rick himself isn't taking them seriously, so you step into Nancy's shoes in order to find the culprit before it's too late.

    Just like Secrets Can Kill, this game has an intense mystery for you to solve. I think this one is a bit stronger, though, because you're investigating something that is currently happening as opposed to something that already happened. It adds more depth to the game and it really keeps you on your toes. In addition, you can actually see these threats while investigating, like those letters and the poisoned chocolates. HeR does a great job of applying "Show, don't tell" here.

    The plot is interesting and very well-developed, and the fact that it's a bit darker compared to other games' (not to mention pretty unique) only adds to it.

    Story: ««« ½
    The plot is supported with a strong story. The course of events that take place throughout the game feel as though they come naturally, and the things that happen are engaging and just really add to the overall experience. I love how there are reveals about some of the characters' secrets, and it feels like this information, again, comes naturally. A lot of it is found through conversation and snooping, which is always awesome.

    The plot overall unravels very well, and there are some scenes (especially one in particular) that are executed perfectly. It never feels like too much is happening at once, and you always know what it is that you ultimately need to find out, which is crucial. You never want to forget what your objective is. The only reason this category didn't receive a higher score is because there are a few times in the game where you might get stuck, so the game can really drag if you aren't sure what to do.

    Setting: ««« ½
    This setting category does not just consider where the game is geographically located, but also the places we can visit in the game, how elaborate they are, how relevant they are to the story, and the game's overall atmosphere. :)

    Stay Tuned for Danger takes place in New York City (the Big Apple ), and this does have a bit of influence on the game. You get around by taxi, and you get to explore a place that has yet to be seen anywhere else in the series -- a TV studio.

    This studio, called Worldwide Broadcasting (WWB for short), is relatively elaborate. At first glance, it doesn't look like much because you only have access to the bottom floor, which consists of a lobby and a pretty small hallway. But what makes it seem more elaborate is how you can explore a number of rooms in the studio, and to a pretty good extent. I think most fans would agree that the prop room is probably the most fun to explore because there are so many things to look at.

    Also worth mentioning is the overall feeling inside the WWB studios. During the daytime, it sometimes feels uplifting while at other times a bit more mysterious. At night, it's definitely on the eerie side. It's a great combination, and the differences between the daytime atmosphere and nighttime atmosphere is a very nice touch.

    You can also explore a bit of Mattie's apartment, and while there isn't a ton to explore, it's still a pleasant place to go to from time to time. The music here can sound really pretty and uplifting, but also slightly creepy. It's pure genius. There are a few things you'll have access to here as well, like the phone and the ability to change between day and night. These help give the place a bit of purpose and even its own character.

    The final building you can visit is an office downtown. You only need to come here a few times throughout the game, but there are some things to see and do. The hallway is relatively expansive for a place you only see a few times, and that's a nice touch. It's not like Nancy just automatically appears at the door of the room she has to visit. There's also some nice music that plays that isn't creepy, but is definitely mysterious and fun to sleuth to.

    Overall, being located in NYC gives Stay Tuned for Danger a bit of character. You get a sense of both the city and the mystery throughout the game, and it's a perfect combination. There's plenty to see and explore, and every location you can visit has some important purpose. The studio alone is reason enough to want to come back to this game.

    Characters: «««« ½
    STFD is definitely home to one of the greatest casts of characters in the series. There are quite a few of them, too, so let's first review their personalities and roles in the game:

    Mattie Jensen is the young woman who enlisted your help on this case. She's a co-star on the soap opera Light of Our Love, and she's very kind and compassionate. She is willing to answer many of Nancy's questions, but sometimes her worries from the death threats can get to her.

    Rick Arlen is the other co-star of Light of Our Love. He's very nonchalant about the threats and gives the impression that he thinks nothing can hurt him. Sometimes he's fun to talk to, but his arrogance can be annoying at times. He's also flirty.

    Lillian Weiss is the director of the show. She doesn't like Nancy's questions and can get easily annoyed by them. She's sarcastic at times, as well.

    Millie Stathorn is the studio's prop master. She's very quirky and only refers to Rick and Mattie by the names of their characters on the show, Rory and Serena. Millie will answer Nancy's questions, but because she only refers to the actors by their names on the show, it's hard to tell if she's being serious.

    Dwayne Powers is a talent agent, and he helped get both Rick and Mattie to where they are today. He's very polite to Nancy, but he's pretty busy throughout the game so you don't get to talk to him very often.

    Ralph Guardino is the security guard at WWB. He's at the front desk, and you have to go through him before you can enter the studio. Fortunately, he's courteous and ready to help.

    What makes this cast stand out is just how many characters there are and how diverse they are. They have such different personalities, and it's really interesting seeing what they think of and how they get along with each other. The game shows this masterfully through their responses to Nancy's questions, and of course, their answers feel natural, not forced. My ONLY complaint is that I would have liked to talk to them a bit more. Every time I replay this game, there are some characters who I feel I don't get to talk to enough.

    *Bonus Discussion!* I also wanted to talk a bit more about Ralph. This is one of the very few games where there's a minor character. He's just there at the front desk to allow people through the studio, and it's a great touch. He may not do a lot throughout the game, but he helps make the studio feel a bit more realistic (not to mention he is a nice character). Sometimes I wish we could see this more often in the series.

    Puzzles: « ½
    The way I see it, puzzles should move the story along and add a special layer of character to the game. The strongest puzzles relate to the setting and the story, and there are some ND games that master this. There doesn't need to be a LOT of puzzles, nor do they need to be super complicated, in order for this to happen. There just needs to be a balance.

    Stay Tuned for Danger has a few more puzzles than its predecessor, and they require a bit of thinking in order to figure them out. There's one in particular that I think is a great example of what puzzles in these games can be like. This particular puzzle isn't difficult per se, but you have to think outside the box in order to make sense of it. It's really clever and most importantly, it's relevant to the game.

    Most of the other puzzles also feel relevant to the game and do help move the story along, but not to a huge extent. I also feel like they don't add a whole lot to the game. They're not in any way bad puzzles, but I feel they don't contribute much to the game's overall persona. For this reason, and for the fact that most of them are pretty simple, I give this category one and a half stars.

    Graphics: «««
    Stay Tuned for Danger is the first game in the series to feature 3D-animated characters, a trend which has continued throughout the series. While this is a step up, the characters do look a little...funky. Their designs are fine, but I can't help but feel they look a little too shiny and clay-like. To be fair, HeR was still getting familiar with this way of animating, and character graphics have definitely improved since this game, so I don't have a huge problem with it.

    Their motions are alright. Often times they fit, but they don't flow super smoothly. At times it's like they're waving their hands around as soon as they start talking. Like woah, slow down!

    The graphics and designs of the different locations in the game, like the rooms and hallways, are impressive. These first few games manage to have their building interiors look surprisingly realistic, and that is a huge plus. The lighting, the colors, the designs -- they're all perfect. Whenever I play this game, it feels like I'm in a TV studio; it feels like I'm in a New York office.

    The setting graphics are superb, but the characters can look a bit odd, and their animations aren't super smooth. But then again, everything looks pretty good considering that the game came out in 1999, so three stars from me.

    Soundtrack: «« ½
    Some of you might not think the background music is super important to a game, but just like puzzles, they add a certain layer of character to the game. Their most important function is to help convey the tone that a certain place or scene should have, whether it be happy, dangerous, or mysterious. It also helps if the music fits the location and/or theme of the game. In fact, the soundtrack is pretty much every component of the game's setting I mentioned earlier, summarized in musical form. How cool is that?

    There's an interesting mix of songs in this game. A few of them are jazzy, and this makes sense for the setting. The jazz songs aren't distracting and fit into the game very well.

    The remainder of the songs aren't jazz, but they're still great sleuthing tunes. With these first few games, one track will often play on loop when you're in a certain location or during a particular scene. It helps give the places we visit some character, but in this game, I find the music can get rather repetitive.

    Another noteworthy thing about the soundtrack is that different music might play depending on what time of day it is. Usually the more suspenseful and mysterious music plays at night, and that's a great touch. On the whole though, I myself am not a huge fan of the soundtrack, but the songs work pretty well for the game, so I'll give this category two and a half stars.

    Ending: ««««
    This category considers not only the actual climax, but also the build-up to that climax, the choice of culprit, and the game's resolution (which is usually conveyed through a closing letter). And don't worry, this section is spoiler-free.

    I think this game has one of the better endings in the series. It's suspenseful and requires some quick thinking, and the higher the difficulty mode you choose, the less time you'll have. The music that plays here is a great choice, too.

    I won't go into detail, but the build-up to the climax is handled very well. Similar to some other games, this build-up makes me excited to see the game through to the very end.

    I'm also a big fan of the culprit. Their motive makes sense, and they're one of the more memorable culprits this series has to offer. They're just great in the climax. Unfortunately, it's not too difficult to guess who it is. The game makes it a little obvious.

    The resolution, as with many games, is pretty good. The story wraps up nicely and Nancy does a good job of explaining it in the closing letter.

    Overall, everything about the ending is great. Stay Tuned for Danger is home to one of my favorite game climaxes and culprits in the series. It may have been nice if the ending scene was a bit longer or if there was more suspicion about who the culprit was, but these might just be nitpicks.

    The Sense of Mystery: Very Good
    This is something that is lightly talked about in the plot and story categories, but for some games it just needs to be explicitly stated how much it feels like there's a mystery. Do you just know there's a mystery because the game's music, plot and setting suggest it, or are you forced into believing there's a mystery? Are there common qualities of a mystery present, like snooping or exploring? If not, what other qualities add to the game and make it feel like something's up?

    With STFD, there is a great sense of mystery. The plot, storyline, and soundtrack do a magnificent job of conveying this, and there are plenty of opportunities to snoop and explore throughout the game.

    The Game's Overall Persona: Pretty Classic
    This category is admittedly more subjective, but it's something I never talked about in my old reviews, nor do I see it explicitly talked about very often in other reviews. Here's where I talk about what this game feels like to me and what it feels like compared to other games in the series.

    The game feels like a pretty classic Nancy Drew game through little details, like the faint static in the music, the option to play as Master Detective (which is no longer an option after this game), and the mere fact that the plot is much darker compared to other games'. While I wouldn't say that STFD "stands out" exactly, it can definitely remind you of and give you a taste of what the classic games were like. They have a special quality that can't really be described, at least not easily; they just feel timeless.

    Overall Score
    This is where I use the above categories to determine the game's final score out of five stars. I take the average of the star categories from before, and then use the last two non-star categories to adjust that score to what I feel is fair. :)

    In the end, Stay Tuned for Danger receives a final score of:
    Final Score: ««« ½ = 3.5 out of 5 = Very Good!

    Stay Tuned for Danger is, overall, a pretty strong game, especially for one so early on in the series. It has an undeniably great sense of mystery and intrigue, and the characters, setting, and storyline all bring it to life. There's no doubt that it's a classic. :)

    Thanks so much for reading the review! Feel free to comment, as comments are always welcome.

    Previous Review: Secrets Can Kill
    ......Next Review: Message in a Haunted Mansion
    Last edited by disneygirl12; February 13, 2016, 03:46 PM. Reason: Linked to next review :D
    .........I think Earth is a pretty great place.....¸.·°¨¯¨°·¸
    ...........That's saying something....¸.·`.......`·-·`
    ...¸·°¨¯¨°·.¸ 'cause I've been through outer space!
    ...`·-·`.......` · . , ¸ _ ¸ , . · `(_¸ , . · `

    Hope everyone's having a great summer!

  • #2
    Another fabulous review!
    First off, I love the point that you made of how Nancy is investigating something that is currently happening, not something that has happened. I think that is a really important thing, because like you said, it makes this game stand out. Next, I love how you included Ralph because I thought the same thing. It was just nice seeing a secondary character that didn't really do much, but was just there to be polite and make it seem more real. So major points to you for pointing that out. I feel like I could go on and on but those were just 2 details that really stuck out to me. Again, great job! And can't wait until the next one! :)



    • #3
      Originally posted by mysteryhelp279 View Post
      Another fabulous review!
      First off, I love the point that you made of how Nancy is investigating something that is currently happening, not something that has happened. I think that is a really important thing, because like you said, it makes this game stand out. Next, I love how you included Ralph because I thought the same thing. It was just nice seeing a secondary character that didn't really do much, but was just there to be polite and make it seem more real. So major points to you for pointing that out. I feel like I could go on and on but those were just 2 details that really stuck out to me. Again, great job! And can't wait until the next one! :)

      Thanks for the reply! I'm glad that those details stood out because I think this game deserves a bit of recognition for them. It's nice to see that we agree on those. :D

      And again, thanks so much for replying! I really appreciate your feedback.
      .........I think Earth is a pretty great place.....¸.·°¨¯¨°·¸
      ...........That's saying something....¸.·`.......`·-·`
      ...¸·°¨¯¨°·.¸ 'cause I've been through outer space!
      ...`·-·`.......` · . , ¸ _ ¸ , . · `(_¸ , . · `

      Hope everyone's having a great summer!


      • #4
        Wonderful review!!! I'm really enjoying reading through other people's reviews while doing a new playthrough of the series, and I REALLY like your review format! I agree with a lot of your opinions about this game - particularly that we're given a pretty stellar cast of characters this time around. I particularly loved Millie, and I appreciated that Rick was a bit pompous and arrogant, and I thought his character was really well done. I love that you talk about the game's overall persona, I think that's such a great way to sum things up. I'm looking forward to reading more of your reviews!! Great job!