Few characters in young adult literature have had as lasting an appeal as Nancy Drew. Back in 1998, Her Interactive resurrected the girl detective for the start of what would become a highly successful PC gaming franchise. Now, 13 years later, Her Interactive is taking Nancy back to her literary roots.
Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch launched back in February for Apple’s iPhone and iPad portable devices. Unlike previous Her Interactive titles, Shadow Ranch (not to be confused with their earlier PC game, The Secret of Shadow Ranch) takes the form of an interactive novel with playable game elements. Gamezebo recently spoke with Her Interactive President and CEO Megan Gaiser about making Nancy’s mysteries mobile.
With the success of iOS gaming, many PC developers have been quick to simply try and port their desktop games to the iPhone and iPad without making any really significant changes. Was this a route Her Interactive had ever considered for the Nancy Drew franchise?
We absolutely believe that our PC games, with some re-design so we take advantage of the native functionality, would work beautifully on the iPad. We plan to make this happen. We have learned that a simple port is not an effective strategy when expanding to different platforms.
In the meantime, we created a new type of interactive mystery entertainment experience that draws from the foundation of Nancy Drew – books, and draws from interactive puzzles, music, sound effects, word games, visuals, puzzles and game mechanics to immerse the player in the story in a new and unique way. We have received great press and customer feedback for pioneering a new type of genre – Nancy Drew GameBook.
Like other Her Interactive Nancy Drew releases, Mobile Mysteries: The Secret at Shadow Ranch is based on a previously published Nancy Drew mystery – in this case the 1931 novel of the same name. How much of the text in the game is taken directly from the original book?
Our games are inspired by original Nancy Drew books, but the story in Shadow Ranch is original.
While they may have been popularized in the 1980’s with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, the history of gamebooks is nearly as old as Nancy Drew herself. Why did it take so long to bring these two together?
I would challenge your definition of gamebook. Our electronic version played on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch has been characterized as “pioneering work” by many in the industry. But in terms of Shadow Ranch, we didn’t want to rush a product to market just to have an app. Just as we develop high quality adventure and mystery games for the PC, we took the same exacting standards to develop this app. We listened to feedback from our colleagues, fan base to make this the best product possible. The introduction of the iPad for us was key. It was the perfect platform to merge the two mediums.
In your opinion, what makes the iPhone and iPad a good home for gamebook-style adventures?
The IPad, iPhone and iPod touch provide the ideal platforms for this new game play experience with their elegant, Multi-Touch interfaces, gorgeous graphics and on-the-go portability. Our first game in the Mobile Mysteries series- Nancy Drew Shadow Ranch is a new way of telling a story that immerses the player in interactivity, rather than keeping the experience passive. And with so many gadgets and devices to choose from, we are facing the reality that our connections with our children are becoming more difficult to maintain. Many women grew up with Nancy Drew so they’re buying the games for their daughters – and then playing themselves. Our primary target for this app is girls, 8 to 14. But, we fully expect moms – and grandmoms – will pick it up as well to play the story with their daughters, nieces, granddaughters, etc. The can relate to Nancy. They love the nostalgia and enjoy a great mystery.
In addition to traditional gamebook elements, Shadow Ranch features a number of mini-games, collectables, and interactive elements in each chapter. Why include these? And were there additional elements you wanted to include but didn’t?
With this gamebook app, we’re merging a traditional book with game play elements. We felt the mini-games and other interactive elements were perfectly suited to this specific story and Nancy Drew brand and brought the Game Book concept to life. We’re melding the elements of a great mystery with the interactive experience of a video game in the form of a story-based gamebook app. In Shadow Ranch, both game play, problem solving and reading are critical to solving the mystery. And, the player dictates how the story unfolds by the path they choose. There are classic game elements, such as hidden object games, mazes, word scrambles and other mini-games to solve. Yet, there is also a full-blown mystery for the player to read and absorb. We’ve paid very close attention to make sure there is a perfect balance of reading and game play so that the experience is truly unique. Play the story!
What’s next for Nancy Drew on the App Store?
We’re excited to see how our first app does and look forward to expanding the series. We’ve got many ideas we’d love to bring to live in the Game Book format. Our next big focus thought is #24 in the PC/Mac adventure series. We’ll be revealing details about that game soon. It’s slated to launch in June!