The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks - Review

The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks
Ages: Everyone

The title of this game might keep girls from buying it - but it is a splendid game that girls would enjoy. The Hardy Boys are produced by Her Interactive, and the game has some of the feel that the Nancy Drew mysteries have - solving the mystery by poking around and amassing clues in unusual settings. For this one, you travel on the Royal Express, know as the "Gold Train", from Paris to Leningrad, stopping at museums in Vienna, Prague and Warsaw. The settings are gorgeous, done in the ornate style of Russia copying the French, and this alone is enough to keep you exploring just to be in that environment. One glance at the credits tells you why the locations and interiors are so realistic and meticulously done.

Frank and Joe Hardy, teenage sleuths, are invited to join in the search for the Romanoff treasures - purportedly connected with the train the Romanoff family traveled on to make their escape from the revolutionaries. You play as the Hardy boys and occasionally as Samantha Quick - a helpful but elusive undercover agent. Other travelers on the train are BaronVon Ekartsburg who claims to be a descendent of the Romanoff's; Carol Stephenson-Hughes, a historian; Alexey Konstantirev, a brilliant, if pompous art scholar and Isabelle Dupont, an artist's model willing to work as a waitress to get on the train - all interested in finding the fortune or fame.

As the plot advances, more places are opened for searching. Navigation is by poking on the directional arrows. Active items are indicated by a yellow hand - poking on it with the stylus brings up a larger image allowing you to do something with it. For just looking, it's the old magnifying glass. Some of the puzzles are tricky, with an ambiguousness that required a number of retries, others just fall into your lap - all are closely related to the story. I did lots of poking around to find things in this game. It's the first time that I felt that my touch screen was unresponsive. After trying the game out on other DSs, I came to the conclusion that the game requires a heavy hand on the stylus.

Tracking your progress, storing the objects you collect, being informed about your next task (you don't have to do it in exactly that order), and keeping a journal for clues are all done on your PDA - which, important as it is, keeps popping up too frequently - too many buttons assigned to it. Finding objects can be difficult, poking and scrubbing the stylus back and forth across the screen can be frustrating. At one time I had four open puzzles needing some kind of object.

The teenage brothers, Frank and Joe Hardy are derived from books produced by Edward Stratemeyer, who also produced the Nancy Drew series - about 80 years ago. Both are still popular in various media forms. The search and chase in finding the treasure is a good one. Her Interactive does very will with mysteries located on a train: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon. The navigation just took some of the fun out of it.

Young players of this game won't know anything about the Russian revolution and the end of the royal Family. The Romanoff story is given out in newspaper snippets while the puzzles focus mostly on the Romanoff children and their father's attempt to save them. For those of us who know the story it brings a poignancy to the game.

Fun Factor: A gorgeous mystery
Female Factor: Yes,I know - it's the Hardy Boys - but the locations are so fantastic.
Player Friendly: Touch screen mechanics need to be strangely forceful. Comprehensive manual.

Reviewed by: Editor - 09/09

  • The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks
  • © SEGA/Her Interactive
  • Platform(s): DS
  • To Order: DS $19.99