Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-01-17 Wii Adventure E10 (Everyone 10+) Her Interactive / SEGA

Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek was released on the PC in the summer of 2007, and was widely appreciated by both press and everyday gamers alike as an interesting take on the point-and-click adventure genre. Hoping to expand the franchise's appreciation to a larger audience is SEGA's port of the game to the Wii.

Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek follows our classic heroine to Canada, where she is tasked with solving a string of bizarre accidents striking the employees and guests of the Icicle Creek Lodge. With a unique range of characters, from the nature loving bird watcher and the avid ice-fisherman to the training Olympic skier and the somewhat aloof art student, Nancy has her hands full in trying to determine just who, or what is beyond the various incidents plaguing the isolated resort.

Adding to her dilemma is a mysterious white wolf, which is witnessed either shortly before or after each major accident occurs, obviously linking it to the person or persons responsible. By taking on the undercover roll of the lodge's newest maid/cook, Nancy finds herself in the middle of nowhere with no escape from the villain who wishes to stop Nancy's crime-solving ways for good.

Gameplay is as basic as a point-and-click adventure could be. Set in a first person perspective, players make their way through the world by pointing the Wii Remote in the direction they wish to go, and tapping on the A button when the on-screen cursor changes to an arrow pointing in the appropriate direction.

As with a mouse pointer in PC versions of such games, the Wii Remote cursor changes into the shape of a hand when hovering over something that can be picked up or otherwise manipulated, and into a magnifying glass when you are allowed to zoom in on an object, whether it be a book on a desk, a picture on a wall or so on.

As Nancy primarily interacts with the lodge's guests under the identity of the maid and cook, she must spend a reasonable chunk of her time performing the appropriate duties of making beds, collecting dirty towels, cooking meals and so on. Cooking tasks specifically are achieved via a short mini-game sequence that resembles Cooking Mama at the core, but is far less impressive in its execution.

As one would expect, the cooking sequences try to take advantage of the Wii's motion controls, by asking you to swing the Wii-mote up and down to chop, tilt it to pour liquids, spin it to whisk, and so on, all the while achieving very mixed results. While chopping and whisking tend to work just fine, any sort of shaking action (like shaking sugar onto French toast, or repeatedly cracking an egg on the side of a pan) is hit or miss at best, resulting in you waving your Wii-mote around like a madman (or madwoman, if you prefer) as you beg and plead for the game to respond to your doing so.

Other parts of the title include the same sort of mini-game breaks, like a sequence that finds Nancy jumping on ice floes on the surface of a lake and has you holding the Wii-mote sideways and gradually moving the top and bottom (which are now in your left and right hands, respectively) like a teeter-totter to help Nancy catch her balance before she slides off into the freezing depths.

While these specific challenges are somewhat enjoyable, certain aspects of the game are downright boring, specifically ice fishing, which challenges you to catch a certain species of fish while avoiding logs, boots and sturgeons, all of which can break your line. And while avoiding certain items and collecting others might sound like an engaging use of one's time, there I sat, my chin resting on my palm in an effort to retain some semblance of consciousness.

As if the game's lackluster excitement level wasn't enough to deter most gamers, the technical aspects of the game most certainly will. In terms of the general look of the game, the graphics are direct from the mid 90's and even though this look does bring back memories of playing such games on the PC all those years ago, they are so technically flawed that it makes the game almost unplayable during specific instances.

Not only are the interiors ridiculously dark for a public lodge, but your movements are interrupted every few seconds as the next portion of a hallway, path, or even single room is slowly loaded. This loading issue is even more burdensome during character conversations, when snappy banter is suddenly frozen as the game tries to load the next bit of audio.

Likewise, when traveling over great distances outdoors, the game takes over in a short cinematic that supposedly represents a quickening of time, so one doesn't have to watch Nancy cross such a geographical gap, but instead becomes a laggy, even spastic waste of time, as the audio forges on ahead while the screen struggles to keep up.

All in all, Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek contains an intriguing story but not much else, which is disappointing to say the least, as I would like to think that the concept of point-and-click adventures on the Wii does hold merit. Perhaps if more attention had been paid to the technical aspects of the game, specifically the mini-game controls, my opinion might be different, but as it stands, this one is best experienced on the PC or not at all.