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The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive
Developer: XPEC Entertainment
Media: CD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

It's hard not to look at The Hardy Boys' first real foray into the interactive media, and compare it to the Nancy Drew series developed by Her Interactive. And while The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft doesn't quite match the quality of the Nancy Drew games, there does seem to be a solid foundation being laid to make the series of Hardy Boys games really enjoyable.

The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft isn't bad visually. Actually, the developers seemed to do a good job updating the characters and scenario for the modern time. Instead of keeping the characters in their goody-two-shoes, 1950's style family, the characters are less than perfect, and really resemble modern teens a lot more than before.

Sound has also had a bit of effort put into it, especially since a couple of teenage idols like pop singer Jesse McCartney and Hannah Montana actor Cody Linley are on board, so the voicework is actually pretty good. While the game and dialogue don't really require a lot of range as far as emotion is concerned, but it definitely doesn't sound phoned-in.


The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft seems to have a lot of the mystery and intrigue that the book series is known for, but not nearly the action, though you wouldn't know that from the opening cinematic. As much as I hate to admit it, the game just doesn't have as many puzzles (logic or inventory-based) in it to really make it a solid adventure title. Now, one thing you will be doing a lot is talking to people and learning everything you can about the case at hand. But the puzzles are slow coming and don't happen nearly often enough.

In The Hidden Theft, the boys are asked to help a wealthy man discover who got into his safe and stole his bearer bonds. The only other person who knows how to get into the safe is the guy's brother, so of course he is the prime suspect. But, as these mysteries tend to do, once you start delving into the story, it just isn't quite that cut and dry.

One of the interesting features that Hardy Boys uses is the fact that you will have to switch between the two characters in order to get certain tasks done. While this isn't new by any means, I haven't seen it a whole lot in the more modern adventure titles, and it really does add just a bit more complexity to the game since there is always the possibility of having to position both boys in order to solve a puzzle.

The Hard Boys also features a cell phone that you can pull up to try and call on either your dad or Nancy Drew herself for some hints. Unfortunately, this wasn't always very revealing, and only really helped me out occasionally.


The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft has some tougher puzzles towards the end (have I ever mentioned that I find Chinese Puzzle Boxes annoying?). But for the most part, this game's list of obstacles isn't all that original or tough. Most experienced adventure gamers should be able to make short work of most of the puzzles. In fact, what takes up most of the time in this game is going through the dialogue trees and speaking to everyone just to make sure you don't miss some crucial detail.

Game Mechanics:

Game Mechanics, namely control schemes, is usually a fairly simple section in most point-and-click adventure game reviews. The system has been around... well, since you could actually point and click in games. It's been fairly refined over the years, so you'd think this would be a fairly standard setup, but for some reason, The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft deviates from the norm in some places that really makes the game awkward at times.

For one, actually selecting an item in your inventory and closing the window just feels odd. Maybe its the need to double-click some objects in order to open them, but others a regular single-click will equip it, and you need to right-click in order to bring it up as well as close it (yes, even when you've selected an item). Other issues involve trying to move from screen to screen. At times, finding the area where the cursor turns into a pair of feet was almost as much of a pixel hunt as finding items to put in your inventory.

While The Hidden Theft isn't quite as refined as the Nancy Drew series (then again, Her Interactive has had almost 20 games to get their system down), it is still a good start, and there is definite room to grow with future mysteries. Fans of the books should look into this game, and fans of adventure games in general shouldn't shy away from it either. While the puzzles themselves aren't all that tough, the story is rock solid.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 2000/XP/Vista, 14 GHz Pentium 3 processor, 256 MB RAM, 2 GB Hard Disk Space, 64 MB DirectX 9 compatible video card, 16-bit DirxtX 9 compatible sound card, 16x CD ROM

Test System:

Alienware Aurora m9700 Laptop, Windows XP Professional, AMD Turion 64 Mobile 2.41 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Dual NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB Video Cards, DirectX 9.0c

Nintendo DS Tak: Mojo Mistake Windows MySims

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