The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Thief
November 26, 2008
The vault at the Spencer Mansion is robbed, and the Bayport Police call on the Hardy Boys to help tie up some loose ends – but they soon find themselves in the middle of a major criminal investigation that takes them on an adventure all over Bayport, and even into New York City. But the pieces don't add up, and Frank and Joe find themselves embroiled in a drama of sinister proportions.
Is the recent theft linked to something from the past? Can Frank and Joe find and decipher the clues in time to prevent another crime from happening?
American publisher and writer Edward Stratemeyer was the father of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. He was also a pioneer in the technique of producing long-running, consistent series of books using a team of freelance authors to write standardized novels. One of those freelance authors was Canadian journalist and writer Charles Leslie McFarlane, who is most famous for the ghostwriting of the early books in the very successful Hardy Boys series, using the alias Franklin W. Dixon. So the Hardy Boys wouldn't be who they are today if it weren't for him. The first Hardy Boys book, The Tower Treasure , was written by him and released in 1927. He wrote twenty-one of the books in the series. Nancy Drew was the first character from the books to become an adventure game character. We heard Nancy talking on the phone to the Hardy Boys in several of her games. They first made an appearance in Nancy Drew: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon and became playable characters in Nancy Drew: The Creature of Kapu Cave . It was only natural that they would become heros of their own adventure game series.
At the beginning of the game, you see a cutscene relating to the ending of the Hardy Boys' previous mission. This kind of reminded me of the scenes at the beginning of some of the James Bond movies - it put me right in the mood and made me anxious to see what's going to happen next.
Frank and Joe Hardy are two reckless teenagers. Their father is a retired New York Police Department detective who is now working as a private eye, so it is only natural for them to step into their father's shoes and do some detective work of their own. In the first scene of the game, the two boys are grounded for something they didn't do. It was all a misunderstanding as the person who came to their home to give them their new case was disguised as a police officer, and the only excuse he could find to see the boys was to tell their mother they didn't stop at a red light with their motorcycles. So, in order to start their investigation they must call dad to the rescue. The matter is resolved, and the two brothers can now investigate the robbery.
Graphics and Gameplay
The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft , unlike the Nancy Drew games, is a third person point and click adventure game. Characters and backgrounds are in 3D but unfortunately, there isn't complete freedom of movement with 360° panning, and there isn't any zooming in. You can access the main menu by pressing the ESC key. There you will find New Game, Load Game, Options, Credits and Exit.
If you scroll the cursor at the top right of the screen during gameplay, you can access the Menu, Inventory, Cell Phone, Character Selection, and the Travel Map. The cell phone includes a phone contact list, a Journal, and the Questlog. In both the Journal and the Questlog you need to double click to select something. The Questlog sometimes also gives you hints about what to do next. To use the phone to call someone, select the name and then click on the green phone icon.
The inventory can also be accessed by right clicking on the screen. Some items can be combined by dragging and dropping them on top of each other. They can also be separated. Right click closes the inventory frame.
Frank and Joe each have a cell phone you can use to call people to get a hint or two about what to do next. You can even call Nancy Drew. While on the phone, you can also read most of the documents you have picked up along the way.
The graphics are well done with beautiful colors and lots of details. Unfortunately, you can't pick up or look more closely at a lot of the things you see. The characters aren't as nice looking as they are in the Nancy Drew games. I would have liked to have them seem more natural looking. The game is similar to the Nancy Drew games, but, as I've already mentioned, it's a third person game, and the player doesn't have the choice of different levels of difficulty.
What was fun about the game is that you can play either as Frank alone, Joe alone, or use them as a team. I wish this feature would have been used to its full potential, but it was not. Some comic strip cutscenes are used in the game. They aren't the usual cutscenes, but they are interesting to watch.
The majority of the puzzles are inventory based with some logical pattern-based puzzles, a timed puzzle, and one color-based puzzle. The game doesn't have any sliders nor any mazes. The puzzle solutions are mostly pretty logical, but a few aren't. There are puzzles to please every gamer, and everything from easy to harder ones. My favorite was the geometrical one given by the receptionist at the hospital. It wasn't that difficult, but it was definitely an interesting one.
Interesting facts about the game
After installation you don't need the CDs to play the game.
You can switch characters between Joe or Frank or use them as a team.
Dialogue and Sound
The music is appropriate for each scene with some jazz in the quieter scenes and more intense music when action is involved. There is also a quavering type of musical theme that lets you know your life is in danger. At the theater you will have a nice choice of music to pick from to play on the piano.
The actors selected to play the voices of each character did a great job. The more well-known actors were pop star Jesse McCartney as Frank and Cody Linley as Joe. They both gave a lot of credibility to their characters.
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of sound effects. The quality of what sound effects there are is average. It would have added a lot to the game if the developer would have taken more time to use better ones.
Bugs and/or patches
I didn't encounter any bugs, but the game crashed on me once.
OS: Windows® 2000/XP
CPU: 1.4 GHz Pentium® 3 Processor
RAM: 256 MB
Disk Space: 1.5 GB
Video Card: 64 MB DirectX® 9 Compatible Video Card
Sound: 16-bit DirectX® Compatible
Input: Mouse, Keyboard and Speakers
My computer specifications:
OS: Windows Vista SP1
RAM: 2 X 288Go
Processor: Intel (R) Core (TM) 2 Duo 3.00 Go
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT
Sound: Onboard Sound Controller
Disk space: 1st 221Go and 2nd 266 Go
I enjoyed the game a lot. Nancy Drew now has some competition. Finally the guys will also have their favorite sleuths, and we get two of them for the price of one! The game builds the plot with an intriguing story, and it has some easy and some challenging puzzles which are nicely integrated with the story. The graphics are well done, and there are several places to visit with lots to look at. I wish we could interact with a lot more of these objects. The character drawing is average; Hopefully, the developer will make them look better in future games. The music is good enough that it will make the player forget about the lack of sound effects to some extent.
I hope there is a future for our dynamic and daredevil detectives. I will be among those waiting to see what the next game is about and if the developer uses the feedback from this game to make the second one ever better.
The Adventure Company
The Hardy Boys