The Hardy Boys - a mini review

Posted by: chrissie

The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/26/08 10:49 AM

The Hardy Boys are two teenage brothers living at home with mom & dad who like to play detective & will be familiar to anyone who has played the Nancy Drew games.

A robbery has taken place at Spencer Mansion, the only possible suspect has been detained but as there are some puzzling aspects to the theft the Hardy boys, Frank & Joe, are called in to help tie-up the loose ends. But not everything is as straightforward as it seems & as they start to investigate they find themselves drawn into a more intricate mystery.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the story which for me was the main strength of the game. It was well structured & for the most part flowed along to one of the best done conclusions I have come across in a long time.

A big bonus of the game, I thought, was the exceptionally good voice acting (in comparison to many others) which help a lot in giving some personality to the characters you meet & contribute to giving a homely & natural feel to the story. One of the characters featured is Nancy Drew herself but for me it didn’t work as she was not voiced by Lani Minnelli. She is featured so minimally that I feel a little cynically that she was only included as a selling point of the game.

The Hardy Boys has a similar feel to the Nancy Drew games but apart from that and any graphical similarity I found it quite different.

It is played in third person perspective with the option of playing either Frank, Joe, or both together. I didn’t feel that this feature was put to full use in the game as there were few situations where I found it necessary to control the boys independently & be able to switch between the two.

The interface is point & click played entirely with the mouse with the usual walk, talk, look, take & gear (action) icons & the large downward pointing arrow to back out of a close-up view.

The inventory is accessed by right-clicking & items can be combined by clicking one onto another. Combined items can also be dismantled in the inventory by double-clicking on them & also some items can be examined more closely by double-clicking on them – I didn’t realise this until later in the game as it is not mentioned in the manual.

Moving the cursor to the top right of the screen brings up the Character Select Mode where you can choose who to control, a Travel Map for quick travel between locations & a Task Bar. Here you have the option to click on the game menu (which can also be accessed by pressing Esc), the inventory or your Cell Phone. The Cell Phone allows you to make phone calls, but you also have access, by double-clicking, to a journal which stores the content of any documents you find in more detail & also a Quest Log which can be helpful if you’re not sure what to do next.

As with all good detective stories the mystery is solved by collecting & analysing evidence & questioning people. For anyone who doesn’t like a lot of dialogue you will be pleased that there is not too much!, puzzles are a nice mixture of problem solving, inventory manipulation & logic puzzles which range from simple to not too difficult & are well integrated into the story, although there were at least two which I could only solve by trial & error. There are no colour matching, sound puzzles, mazes, sliders or timed puzzles, except for one fairly simple one at the beginning, and unlike the ND games there are no challenging games or difficult arcade sequences to ‘pad out’ the game.

The graphics, similar to the ND series, were quite pleasing although environments were static & not as rich & as finely detailed as many other games & character movement no more than okay.

I enjoyed the intermittent music in the game but felt that it could have benefitted from a few ambient sounds and/or incidental music to heighten the atmosphere in some of the locations.

The main downside to the game was the very long loading time which I didn’t mind when first launching the game but found excessive between scene changes within the game. Other minor annoyances included finding a couple of items in my inventory without having any indication in the game that I had picked them up, questioning a character about someone who is standing next to them!, finding instructions in my Quest Log before it was relevant for them to be there & misleading or badly worded ‘rules’ for a puzzle involving placing shapes on a grid. This in itself was clumsy as I had to attempt several times to get the shapes to ‘stick’ where I wanted them & to solve the puzzle had to break one of the ‘rules’. There were also a few other places in the game where it took a few clicks to get a response.

I also found that inventory items remained even after they shouldn’t have still been there & I picked up the same thing twice even though it didn’t appear to be there the 2nd time!

I also experienced one crash & a lack of a hotspot in one location although this could have been due to a bad installation rather than a bug.

Overall, I thought the positive aspects of the game far outweighed the negative & although there was room for improvement it was a very nicely balanced game in all respects -it had an interesting story which was slowly unravelled via a combination of dialogue based enquiry & a variety of puzzles that didn't dominate the plot & weren't too difficult. It is by no means amongst the most challenging games I've played so may not appeal much to the 'hard core' gamer but if you're a fan of Nancy Drew you may like this despite the differences. I enjoyed it very much & there were no chores to do! smile
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/26/08 11:24 AM

thanks Chrissie

It's good to hear there's no timed puzzles wave
Posted by: Darleen03

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/26/08 01:08 PM

Oh Boy !!! Chrissie

You have made me so Happy yay

I am getting this on a trade...I am so happy to hear you can put things together in the inventory..Also happy to read you play as the third person...This game sounds so much different then Nancy Drew games..Which lately they are getting alittle boring smirk

Thank You for this much appreciated review.. :ghost:
Posted by: NPatricia

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/27/08 01:51 PM

Chrissie, did you have trouble with the french toast on the oven? N Patricia
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/27/08 06:31 PM

Very nice review, Chrissie.
Posted by: chrissie

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/28/08 02:40 AM

Thank you Jenny, Darleen & looney4labs - I hope it's some help to anyone who hasn't played the game!.

It took me 4 or 5 attempts to make the toast NPatricia, it seemed to be trial & error as to where the dial was set but I did later find a recipe for french toast in the journal which might have helped!
Posted by: NPatricia

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/28/08 01:21 PM

I am a complete standstill. I have set the oven at medium, made the toast correctly, can't make another one because of having already made the first one, and it just won't go in the oven. I have tried everything. Do I maybe need a patch. I read the recipe in the journal. I just am at a standstill. Basically, unless there is something I have forgotten, the game had a problem.
Posted by: chrissie

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/28/08 01:26 PM

Hi NPatricia, I think this is probably more for the hints forum! If you've already made the toast correctly you've completed the task. You don't need to make another. smile
Posted by: Becky

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/28/08 02:07 PM

Hi NPatricia -- if you need help, you could post again on your thread in the Hints forum here.
Posted by: Susie07

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/29/08 02:44 PM

Hi, chrissie!

I just finished the game yesterday and agree with your review. I think I actually surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it.

Where did you experience a crash, because I ran into a problem near the end while I was reading the journal and had to exit and restart.

Posted by: chrissie

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/29/08 03:19 PM

Hi Susie, it was definitely a game I thought when I first started playing wasn't going to amount to too much!

I experienced the crash in the Masquerade shop as I was doing the last tracing for the constellation puzzle - the game just shut down & an error message came up! I relaunched the game, loaded from a previous save, finished the puzzle & had no problems after that thankfully! smile
Posted by: Susie07

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/29/08 05:45 PM

Hi, chrissie!

I posted exactly the same thing in another thread. When I first started, I wasn't at all impressed but, once I got into it and became engrossed in the storyline, I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I may just play it again.

My mini crash took place after I'd opened the puzzle box and solved the puzzle inside the grandfather clock but, unfortunately for me, I hadn't saved my game, so I had to solve them again.


Posted by: Retired at last

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/30/08 11:53 PM

I finished this game a while ago and I missed something.
Never did meet Nancy Drew - or if I did, I didn't realize it. laugh
RAL wave
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/31/08 10:12 AM

Hmmm RAL, that is interesting. I wonder if you would find her on a replay?
Posted by: Becky

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/31/08 10:47 AM

Were you looking for a blonde Nancy? grin
Posted by: chrissie

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/31/08 11:49 AM

Unless I missed something Nancy featured:
Click to reveal..
as a phone contact only!
Posted by: Susie07

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 10/31/08 02:49 PM

Hi, RAL!

Nancy Drew is only in the Hardy Boys game as a phone contact, so you didn't miss a thing.

Posted by: Retired at last

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 11/01/08 10:26 PM

Thanks for the info.
Darn, I thought I was finally going to see what she looks like.
Posted by: LightWeight

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 11/15/08 03:28 PM

I just finished The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft game and I thought it was OK. As a fan of The Hardy Boys and in need of a new adventure game I thought I'd give it a try.
I think this game is good for the beginer as it is fairly basic and not too hard. The storyline was good and made it interesting. Some of the tasks didn't totally add up though and some of the graphics didn't align that well with the footsteps. On some screen you had to move your mouse in a small area to get to it. A few times I had to click several times on something to activate the puzzle or scene.
Overall if you are new to adventure games I'd say give it a go however if you are more of a hard core gammer you might want to look for something more challenging.
Posted by: Becky

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 11/16/08 06:12 AM

Hi LightWeight -- welcome to GameBoomers and thanks for your comments! welcome
Posted by: old lady

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 11/28/08 08:22 AM

Hi Chrissie, I agree that it was an OK game BUT and it's a very big but I spent 2 hours trying to solve what seemed a simple logical puzzle, the one you mention as the "grid puzzle". Having turned the air blue to then find you could only solve it by breaking the rules was a big nono for me. How did the testers miss that? hardwall smashpc
Posted by: mission

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 01/05/09 08:42 PM

Very informative. Thanks for writing smile
Posted by: Volkana

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 01/06/09 02:26 AM

I just finished the game. I enjoyed most of it but i got really crazy in this logical puzzle not because i couldn't solve it but because i couldn't get the piece i wanted in the right place. I had to try more than 3 times every time to put it where i wanted cause it always went beside the right place. And in addition every time i was trying to take a piece out of the grid i couldn't release it in the bottom right area and some Xs were appeared in the grid which most of the time i couldn't get rid off. I founded a little short regarding the gaming time...
Posted by: chrissie

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 01/06/09 02:15 PM

Hi Volkana, I had much the same experience with that puzzle! I didn't think the game was that short but found it a little shoddy on the production side. I might not have noticed quite so much if it hadn't been a game that was percieved to be connected to the very well produced Nancy Drew series & produced on the back of that. The story was very good & it's a real pity that it was let down by 'rushed' production? smile
Posted by: Volkana

Re: The Hardy Boys - a mini review - 01/06/09 02:19 PM

Yes the story was quite interesting! I finifhed the game within a day without closing it at all! I was very curious to see what was really happening. It wasn't a hard game apart from this puzzle so i wasn't stuck at any point so it run smoothly. grin