The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks Review

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The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks Publisher: Sega
Developer: Her Interactive


Platform: DS
Reviewed on DS

The Hardy Boys, teenage sleuths, have been invited to join the Royal Express on its trek to St. Petersburg in search of the lost Romanov treasure. Starting in Paris, Frank and Joe stop in the cultural centers of Europe as they unravel their first mystery to grace the DS.

Rating:
Kyle Ackerman


I vaguely remember reading a few Hardy Boys novels when I was young. For baby boomers and their parents' generation, juvenile detectives Frank and Joe Hardy (alongside Nancy Drew) were the High School Musical of their day. Now, even if you can snatch away that Harry Potter or Twilight book, you'd be lucky to find a pre-teen who even recognizes the Hardy Boys. That makes The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks something of a conundrum. It's a great license on which to base an adventure game, but also a license that most of the target audience won't recognize.

The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the TracksThe Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks marks Frank and Joe Hardy's debut on the DS, and it's a solid casual adventure for entry-level adventure-game enthusiasts. The extremely linear story and puzzles are straightforward, and a solid hint system means that absolutely no one will be stuck at any point in this game (if they choose to use the hints). The DS graphics are polished, centering on a lovingly rendered train and with detailed graphics and information illustrating historic and scenic locations throughout Europe.

Most of the puzzles are straightforward mini-games that allow the Hardy Boys to further their adventure. These range from searching the contents of paintings to defusing bombs by manipulating the bomb's electronics. While the puzzles will seem routine for experienced adventure gamers, they are spot-on in difficulty for younger gamers or those just introducing themselves to gaming. Players examine objects or move by pressing on icons such as arrows that appear on the various screens. Given the limited number of options, to keep things slightly challenging, those icons don't appear until tapped. So, every time I encountered a new scene I found myself covering the screen with the stylus like I was trying to shade in an entire "post-it" note with a pencil.

My main complaint concerning The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks is that the controls were "mushy." For example, while disarming the bomb at my first train stop, I knew exactly how to solve the puzzle, but found that I had to restart the puzzle twice because the cord I was pointing at didn't move, while another, that I wasn't touching, did. Similarly, while searching through cabins on the train, intentionally tapping objects didn't search them as was intended. Instead, I found myself wildly tapping the entire screen in a frenzied effort to actually search the entire room.

Any casual adventure gaming fan, or any parent searching for appropriate, child-friendly entertainment, will find The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks to be a solid choice for the DS. It may not tax your brain, but it's certainly a pleasant train journey, particularly for anyone with a fondness for Hardy Boys mysteries.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 21, 2009 8:23 PM.

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