The Hardy Boys

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 September, 2009, 12:00am

In The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks for the Nintendo DS, gamers journey with Joe and Frank Hardy across Europe's railways on board the Royal Express from Paris to St Petersburg. They are on the mysterious trail of the Romanov Family treasure, and gamers have to help them find it as they travel through the great cities of Europe.

Apart from taking on the role of the Hardy boys, gamers also control a third character - a mysterious female spy called Samantha Quick.

She's secretive and shadowy and shows up when she's least expected.

Is she a possible ally to the Hardy boys?

Clues to the whereabouts of the Romanov treasure are hidden in paintings and works of art across Europe in cities like Warsaw, Vienna, Prague and St Petersburg. Your job is to help Frank and Joe solve the riddles and puzzles.

For example, you have to find pieces of a museum map and put them together like a jigsaw puzzle to see where you have to go next.

Most of these puzzles and brain teasers are not very difficult and gamers who have played the Professor Layton games will find most of them easy to solve.

One of the main problems with the game is navigation. Moving from one scene to another requires gamers to use a stylus and tap on hidden arrow icons on the edges of the screen. Tapping near the hidden arrow icon reveals them, while another tap moves you to the next scene.

Unfortunately, the arrows are often hard to find and slow to reveal themselves, so players spend a lot of time searching for arrows.

Another problem is that the game's menu system has been dressed up to look like a PDA. The icons on the PDA are not labelled, leaving gamers scratching their head as to which button accesses which menu function.

The graphics are illustrative. This compliments the concept of the clues being hidden in fine-art paintings and works of art.

The painterly style the designers have given the game also lends the narrative the feeling of being inside a graphic novel as you play.

This is not a murder mystery. Nobody dies. But there is plenty of suspense and intrigue. Despite the technical problems with the games, fans of the mystery genre will enjoy joining the Hardy Boys.