Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek Review

The Nancy Drew series of mystery adventure games has been chugging along for quite a while on PCs, but the teen detective's latest adventure is her first to appear on consoles.  It's not surprising that Nancy Drew and the White Wolf of Icicle Creek has landed on the Wii rather than other systems - its point-and-click, mouse-driven gameplay on the PC is a natural fit for the Wii Remote controller.  All this aside, though, is White Wolf a good Wii game?  Let's begin our investigation...

White Wolf finds Nancy travelling to the Icicle Creek Lodge at the request of its owner, Chantal Moique.  It seems that the lodge and its guests have been experiencing a slew of mysterious accidents that seem to coincide with the appearance of a mysterious white wolf that has been seen lurking around the lodge.  Never one to turn down a good mystery, Nancy devises a plan in which she'll work undercover as the new maid at the lodge.  Working as the maid she'll have access to the guests' rooms, allowing her to snoop around without raising too much suspicion.  Undercover housekeeping isn't all fun and games, though.  As the maid you'll be expected to clean the guest rooms each day and also to cook their meals.  I have to admit that I wasn't too pleased to learn that I was playing a game that expected me to make the beds and fry up the bacon each morning, but it turns out that the chores aren't much of a chore in the game.  Cleaning the rooms takes a couple of button presses to make the bed and collect the dirty towels, and you'll want to go into the guest rooms each 'day' anyway to snoop through peoples' stuff (Nancy is unfettered by legal issues and complications).  The meal preparations are actually a cooking mini game, which is not too bad in and of itself but is hampered by the Wii's controls' lack of precision which can lead to some frustrating moments.

Most of the time you'll be free from your housekeeping chores and free to explore the lodge and its surrounding grounds, and to chat with the guests.  If you've played adventure games on a PC before, you'll be familiar with the mechanics of all of this.  The game's environment is broken down into a large number of screens, and when you want to move to the next screen you point the Remote at the edge of the screen corresponding to the direction that you want to move and you'll be taken to the next screen.  By sweeping the Remote's cursor across the screen you'll be able to discover interactive objects and items that can be examined up close.  Conversations are handled by giving you a choice of two or three things to say.  After you make your selection, the character who you are conversing with will make his or her response, and you'll be given a new set of responses to choose from.  You don't have to worry about missing or forgetting a key piece of information uncovered in a conversation because that game tracks all of it for you and it's easy to go back and see everything that's been said to you during the course of the game.

The game's setting leads to a unique game mechanic when you venture outside of the lodge.  The current weather, temperature, and time of day all determine how long you can safely stay outdoors before succumbing to the cold.  In game terms, the relative temperature determines how many things you can do outside before you need to return to the lodge.  A temperature gauge appears onscreen while you're outdoors, so you'll always know when it is time to hightail it back indoors. 

The game adds variety to the methodical process of investigative detective work by the inclusion of numerous puzzles and challenges.  For example, crossing a skating pond with spots of thin ice becomes an exercise in logic not unlike the longtime Windows freebie game Minesweeper.  There are also a number of puzzles left around the lodge by its former owner, which together almost make for a mystery within a mystery.  This all adds a lot of variety and challenge to the game for younger gamers, and it's good to see a game that provides a little intellectual challenge rather than the constant jumping and bashing that fills most games aimed at the tween age group.  And Nancy Drew fans will just eat the whole thing up.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 75%. Nancy Drew clues Wii owners in on some fun mystery gameplay.