Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock



Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Her Interactive Inc.

Released:  2005

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, 400Mhz Pentium, 64MB RAM, 300 MB Hard Drive space, 16-bit color graphics video card with at least 16MB of VRAM, 16-bit Window-compatible stereo sound card, 12X CD ROM, Mouse and Speakers.





by infernoj13usa


When they begin the beguine

It brings back the sound of music so tender,

It brings back a night of tropical splendor,

It brings back a memory evergreen.


They say: “You can’t go home again.” I say: “What a bunch of malarkey!” The Nancy Drew Computer Games have always been a way for me to recapture my youth.


Every time I play one of these I can clearly recall the summer when I was 10 years old: --seemingly endless sultry days spent devouring those terrific “hokey” mysteries about the antics of an intrepid (albeit somewhat nosy) teen and her friends. I still long for those hot afternoons spent with my little sister in the cool shade of the large oak tree in front of my parent’s summer home. We sipped lemonade through paper straws and read Nancy Drew. Many, many years have passed since that time and thousands of miles have separated me from my “lil’ sis”.  Yet I have found such solace now in Her Interactive’s multimedia series, and take comfort that whenever I feel homesick and long for memories past, I can pop in one of these little mysteries and revisit a simpler time. Because of this, The Nancy Drew Series will always strike a tender chord in my heart, whether the game is good, bad or indifferent. 



In olden days a glimpse of stocking

Was looked on as something shocking

Now heaven knows,
 anything goes!


This year marks Nancy Drew’s 75th Anniversary -- Secret of the Old Clock was the first book and “Episode Twelve: Secret of the Old Clock game” takes elements from the first four of the original books; those being Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, Mystery at Lilac Inn and The Bungalow Mystery. In fact there are 75 references to the Nancy Drew books themselves within this new adventure offering.  I’ve played the game three times now and still have yet to find them all. A nice touch for ND aficionados, to my mind.



Brush up your Shakespeare.

Start quoting him now.

Brush up your Shakespeare.

And the women you will wow.

The story takes place in 1930.  As the opening video commences, we find ourselves as -- who else -- Nancy Drew, sitting behind the wheel of her famous Blue Roadster complete with running boards and whitewall tires. The radio announcer is heard in the background as he sets up the mystery and announces that this episode is really a “prequel” – Nancy’s very first adventure. She is on the road to Titusville, Anywhere USA. It turns out that Emily Crandall -- an acquaintance known only to Nancy through her very good friend, Helen Corning -- has asked Nancy to drive out to the Lilac Inn to see her. Could it be because Emily’s mother recently passed away, leaving the young seventeen year old in charge of the Lilac Inn’s restaurant with only her mother’s best friend, Jane Willoughby (and now Emily’s official guardian) to help her? Does she need Nancy Drew to help bake the pies, for which the Inn has been renowned countywide for the last 28 years? And why did Emily sound so frantic? Could it be that someone might have been listening in on that party line?  Would Nancy be called on to use her sewing talents with that archaic sewing machine by using a needle but no matching thread? Perhaps these aren’t the only questions Nancy will need to investigate. Perhaps there are more things here than meet the eye… Settle in my dears, and welcome to Nancy Drew’s first case:  The Secret of the Old Clock.   


You’re the Top!
You’re the Coliseum,
You’re the Top!
 You’re the Louvre museum,

On the technical side of things, I’ve played all these games on my Windows XP Home Edition SP1 and this one was no different. Loaded it right up – sat back with my burger, fries and a frosty lemonade (two sprigs of apple mint, please!),

 ~I’ve always believed that the right food during a game encourages a more positive experience~

three sharpened pencils and my “ND Blue Marble” Hardcover Notebook, and let the familiar strains of the Nancy Drew theme music wash over me and draw me into this newest adventure. I played it in Senior Mode. There were absolutely no technical problems for me, but it is nice to know that if you do experience any problems during the game, you can seek proper help at the technical support section of Her

The graphics and palette were colorful and lively; interspersed throughout were black and white stills from the 30’s of the various locations. Yes, this episode of Nancy Drew takes place in 1930 – replete with appropriate music – technology (the phone conversions were a scream) – dress – and colloquialisms of the decade. – Peachy keen.

I noticed in particular that the individual character sprites are getting better as time marches on, especially the character of Jane Willoughby (who eerily reminded me of a comedienne from the Second City TV Show of the late 80’s – but whose name unfortunately escapes me now) and the character of Emily Crandall. My secret wish is that some day the various characters of the Nancy Drew games will appear throughout the game’s world in “real time” much the way the characters of GKIII do. But that is just my wish. Some gamers have told me that the characters were blurry, but sorry – not on my monitor - crisp, smooth and well done.

I liked that the underscore lent itself quite well to the storyline, and I thoroughly enjoyed it (I love music from that era anyway…). The voice work here was wonderfully amusing. If you listen carefully you’ll hear some very funny and spot on character impersonations from the old time movies gone by. Veronica Lake, Shirley Temple and Walter Brennan are three that come to mind, but there are others if you listen closely and are a lover of old movies. But my all and all favorite had to be the voice of Jane Willoughby --- a real “gal” for all seasons. Played all “hinky” by Sarah Papineau – here is one shrewd dame!


I love the look of you,
the lure of you

The sweet of you,
 and the pure of you

Which brings me to the interface. I won’t go on about it – it is what it is – the same in all Nancy Drew games. It’s familiar – it works, and that’s just fine by me. I hope they never change it. I have to tell you though, I do miss the famous “alarm clock” from episodes gone by and my own room with a few puzzles to explore --- could have used a piece of that famous pie before retiring for the night, you know – but then this particular mystery takes place all in one golden afternoon. Harrumph!

A new twist though, was the introduction of a “mini game” to move from location to location via the road map. We get to “drive” Nancy’s famous Blue Roadster. Well, I just have to tell you that I had giggle after giggle with this one. It reminded me of those old magnetic board games in which you had to move your “car” around the “roads” by using a magnet from underneath the board. What a hoot this was for me! My sister had called me the first day that I was sorting this all out as she was playing the game as well. We tied up our phone lines for three hours as we played the game together --- laughing, commenting and remembering our “girlhood days”  --- what a blast we had. She kept crashing into that stupid bovine in the middle of the road and getting flat tires while I raked in the dough from the telegrams (did I mention the telegrams?). I scored up $20.00 bucks! Not a bad day’s work for someone during the Great Depression, huh? But then – I was ALWAYS a better driver than my “Sis”. Heehee (okokok, I did feel sorry for her and eventually forced myself to get a flat tire as well… Heck! Who wanted to miss out on that nuts and bolts puzzle?) 


You say Potato and I say Potahto,
You say tomato and I say tomahto…

I found the puzzles interesting and not frustratingly impossible. My favorites were the Colored Golf Ball Game, the Sewing Machine Puzzle (did you know that you could sew your name into the dress before you have to do it again?), and the Mini Golf Course. Out of these, the best one was The Mini Golf Game for me – I absolutely loved that one -- especially the next night when it was my turn to call my sister. There’s nothing like playing “mini golf” over the phone, long distance with your sister! My nephew kept asking her why she was whining and why on earth was she whining on the phone… (Some things never change). I got 3 holes in one! It was superb.

Which brings me to the point of all this, that this particular “episode” of Nancy Drew is designed just as the others… a game to relish and enjoy, a game to have fun with. Is the plot spectacular and riveting? Nope, it isn’t supposed to be. But there is a plot and it makes sense. Is there plenty of in-depth character analysis, hubris and angst? Hardly.  (Repeat after me: this is a Nancy Drew “summer” game… it’s too light for that.)  If you’re looking for those things, you won’t find them here (thank God.) For that, go play Shady Brook, Martin Mystere or Still Life. As much as many adult gamers will long for it –The Nancy Drew series just wasn’t created for adults. It was created for young adolescents 10 years and up, to play alone, with their friends, or with their mothers – the same people the books are written for. (Or to be played “long distance” by two old bags—hootin’ and hollerin’ all the way, like me and my “Sis”.)


Goodie,  goodie for me,
Goodie, goodie for you!
And I hope you’re satisfied you rascal, you

Some people have said that the game was just too short. “I finished it in 3 hours.”  Phooey!

All I have to say is that when presented with this type of adventure, I prefer not to rush through it. Heck, I don’t think I rush through any game I play for fun. I took my time throughout the adventure, savoring everything along the way. It took me 17 hours –Senior Mode – without a walkthrough. – Just my Sis and me, and the enjoyment we received by playing it together far outweighed its brevity if I had played it on my own. However I do acknowledge that of all the Nancy Drews to date, Secret of The Old Clock is probably the shortest and lightest of them all. Truth be known here, just playing through the puzzles and games offered within it once – I agree it would have been a far shorter ride: about five to six hours of actual playing time. But does that make it not worth the trouble? I ask this question and I answer – Nope, of course not. For the three evenings it took us to play it I was blithely and happily entertained. It is a welcome addition to my ND collection. The Her Interactive Nancy Drew Series is always a refreshing breath of fresh air for me and something I can actively share with a dear family member. Do I think the next game will be longer? Probably --- have you noticed that the “summer” offerings are usually lighter and shorter than the fall offerings? I have. So, in closing can I honestly recommend this game to my fellow gamers? Yes I can, in my opinion it is an interesting edition and a must for the Nancy Drew collector. And a great adventure to try for those of you who are very new to adventure games. For the rest of us “seasoned gamers” I still suggest you try it – without a walkthrough. And take it in the spirit for which it was written.

I’ll tell you this, it was one of the best times I’ve had.


Grade: B+

Played on:
Microsoft Windows XP Home w/SP 1 
Pentium 4 CPU 2.00GHz 
512MB DDR Memory 
64MBNVIDIA GeForce 2 MX/MX 400 
Creative SB Live
DirectX Version: 9.0b


Lyrics: Cole Porter


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