Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Adventure of the Week: Nancy Drew #1 - Secrets Can Kill (Remastered 2010)

This week, we're going back to the roots of a modern adventure game series -- sort of -- as we play through Nancy Drew #1: Secrets Can Kill.  I say "sort of" because we're actually playing Her Interactive's 2010 Remastered Edition, making this version effectively Nancy Drew adventure number 22.5, released between numbers 22 and 23.  (The original 1998 version of the game is no longer offered for sale by the publisher.)

Her Interactive's Nancy Drew series began humbly, with simple puzzles and hand-drawn cartoon illustrations.  As so often happens in the adventure game industry, Her Interactive decided to bring the first entry in the long-running series up to date with this remastered edition celebrating the famous girl detective's 80th year in print.  The games are more challenging than one might expect, with Junior/Senior difficulty settings; I'll be playing this one as a Senior Detective and probably getting stumped on a few puzzles, though I don't expect this one's plot to be as convoluted as some of the more recent titles.

As always, I encourage interested readers to go adventuring on their own before proceeding here; this one is still commercially available from the publisher and via Steam.  Be advised that beyond this point, Nancy's adventure will be revealed in all its dangerous and amusing detail, and I shall have no qualms whatsoever about revealing any secrets or masking any...

***** SPOILERS AHEAD! ***** 

The game opens in the standardized style of the more recent Nancy Drew titles, with Nancy's desk serving as an introductory interface with memorabilia, a scrapbook full of promos for the rest of the series, a case file summarizing the story at hand, and a plane ticket to Nancy's destination.  I thought the sound quality in this game had dropped off tremendously from the series' generally decent standard, until I realized that it's springtime outside Nancy's window and we can hear a noisy lawnmower running in the background!

The plot is a bit unusual, as this time Nancy Drew has to investigate an actual murder, instead of vaguely threatening, spooky circumstances and puzzles; this may be because this first game was based directly on one of the newer Nancy Drew books, unlike the other games in the series.  So we find Nancy going undercover, at the behest of a local police department, masquearading as a new student at the high school attended by the late Jake Rogers to see if she can find any clues.

We click on the plane ticket, and we're off to the ritzy-sounding Paseo del Mar, Florida.  Nancy's Aunt Eloise is the school librarian here, and according to a note in Nancy's room, she has left us a puzzle -- the key to the library is in her safe, but "Remember not to enter in a wrong combination!"  Apparently dear Aunt Eloise takes her security seriously.  The bureau contains an invitation to a Sigma Phi Kappa Delta reunion, and above it is yet another mirror that Nancy cannot see herself in.  I'm tempted to think that she might want to have that looked at, but it's traditional that we never really see Nancy herself in much detail in this series, for the sake of player immersion; in fact, the game's title screen illustration is rather unusual in that regard.

In Aunt Eloise's parlor, a book tells the tale of the Haunted Ghost Bridge, and a troop of frightened girl scouts whose hair purportedly turned white after they camped out near it.  A cryptic clue, "Follow the X to the spot below!" was reportedly uttered by one of the maddened girls, but this doesn't seem to play into the story in any direct way.

Our aunt's safe, as it turns out, features a combination lock marked with greek letters, so clicking on the sequence σ, φ, κ, δ (sigma, phi, kappa, delta) opens it up easily.  There's a key inside, labeled "Ideas," some papers we can't actually examine, and a sliding tile puzzle with some attractively retro and thematically appropriate artwork:

Solving it reveals Aunt Eloise's login name: eloise drew, along with her anagrammatic password, O WISE ELDER.

As we're about to leave the house, Nancy gets a call -- we're to meet Detective Beech, alias "Uncle Steve" for cover purposes, at Maxine's Diner.  Navigation around town is handled via a convenient map, not drawn to scale, which depicts all the known landmarks.  There are only three locations we can explore -- the school, Aunt Eloise's house, and Maxine's Diner -- but the interiors are fairly substantial.

Maxine's features a jukebox that plays the most generic game soundtrack techno imaginable, way out of keeping with the diner's 1950's decor, but we can insert a quarter to change the tune (there's a quarter available in the mug on Nancy's desk at the start of the game, and plenty of coins show up during play if we watch for the sparkles and solve some optional puzzles.)  The diner features two arcade games, both featuring trackballs in order to work well with a mouse -- Barnacle Blast is a Breakout/Arkanoid type contest that was also used in Nancy Drew #8: The Haunted Carousel, and the word puzzle game Aggregator seems to be permanently out-of-order.  We don't have to play these games at all, but I did discover that if we select the cheesy/sleazy synth-and-sax "Rock'n'Roll" track on the jukebox, and try to play a game without any cash, Nancy's breathy "I need more money" comment sounds rather different than the designers intended.

We can peruse the diner's menu, noting that some letters are highlighted in red and green -- the three red ones are S, H, and, er, I... hmmm.  The green letters are J, O, U, N, R, and A, and there are also some syllables highlighted in pink (Cash and Cow) and blue (is and my.)  This is probably a puzzle, at some point... something is somebody's cash cow, apparently.  But SJOUHRANI must be a coded phrase of some kind.

The diner's counter is tended by a young man named Daryl, from whom we learn that the late Jake Rogers used to work here.  We can wander into the kitchen without being interrupted, noting that Jake was on the schedule this month, but his name has now been crossed out.  There's a code at the foot of the schedule -- CEKEEEIHIGM HCYRYSGTNY.  A crumpled note indicates that someone named Connie broke her date with Daryl to the Sadie Hawkins' dance, and we can snag a soup ladle from the dishwashing area.

Meeting with "Uncle Steve" is rather entertaining -- the officer isn't very good at improvising.  All we learn is that Jake had substantial savings, and the police suspect he was involved with drugs or gambling or something illegal; we're to keep an eye out for a journal that might document any illegal activities.  We also note that the school's athletic teams are known as the Fighting Manatees, as noted on the 50's Dance sign by the exit of the diner.

The high school is rather quiet, with just a handful of students around -- Nancy's so undercover it appears the zombie apocalypse is upon Paseo del Mar, but each of the people she can engage has a story worth investigating.  We can examine the Student Bulletin Board -- actually, there are a number of these scattered around the building, and we will need to check every one of them out to find clues to the game's central puzzle.  The first one I examined indicates that the Drama Club is presenting a poetic drama called Doctor Deception, which sounds suspiciously puzzle-y -- "Student files under lock and key will show the lies of the doctor-to-be," followed by the cryptic annotation Hf:L1.  Another bulletin board promotes the Senior Essay Contest, also with a postscript: Zn:D1.  These bulletin boards are a little too easy to peruse, as only the worthwhile items can be examined -- it's more like a hotspot hunt than a real search for information.  Another board advertises the school's marching band picnic, La:U2.

In the student lounge, Connie the Hall Monitor is available for a chat.  There's also a soda machine where Nancy can spend some of her hard-found quarters.  Connie mentions that Jake Rogers was "a total creep" and that "nobody liked him"; she seems rather callous and hard-nosed about the whole thing.  Connie also has a crush on Daryl Gray, though she won't say why she broke her date with him; she mentions that his family used to be well-off.  She will also tell Nancy that she thinks the person leaving the weird messages on the bulletin boards is the same one who keeps setting off the soda machine alarm.  She also won't let us into the Teacher's Lounge, although it's locked in any case.

Outside the lounge is another cryptic message, labeled As:U4: A CRANE CONTESTANT IN A MASKED DISGUISE WON THE PRIZE MONEY DESPITE ALL THE LIES.  It seems there may be a monetary motive involved with Jake's death.  And a note about the student art exhibit mentions Eloise Drew, and a scrambled message: EPAT OEDIV NEDDIH EHT / ETAF SREREDRUM YM LAES LLIW, coded as C:R1.  This message is just backwards: THE HIDDEN VIDEO TAPE / WILL SEAL MY MURDERER'S FATE.  Interesting -- did Jake know he was going to get killed?

Foreign exchange student "Hal" Tanaka sits in a study area -- he thinks Connie was dating Jake Rogers, and mentions that Daryl Gray's dad was a successful politician, but a failure in business, and that he went bankrupt several years ago.

Access to the maintenance room is blocked by a braille combination lock, suggesting that Nancy will need to get in there at some point.  Back at Aunt Eloise's house, we can poke around some more.  Nancy can examine a book that tells an odd, disjointed story.  I suspect it's structured to allow certain letter patterns to fit, but I don't see any reason to mess with it yet.  Another shelf has a book safe, homemade, with a key marked "T. Lounge."  This seems like it might come in handy, except Connie still won't let us in; the vocal acting direction is a little off here, as the reading of Connie's "I don't care if you have a search warrant, you're not going in" sounds like the actress thinks that Nancy actually has a search warrant, instead of being sarcastic as intended.

Connie has some empty cans of soda on her table; can we distract her with a cold can of pop?  No, Nancy just buys it from the machine and drinks it down immediately, smacking her lips in a distinctly Muppety manner.  On my way out of the school to investigate elsewhere, this time I noticed some police tape on a locker -- probably Jake's.  The lock is a combination lock, accepting 4 digits; another puzzle to solve.

Exploring the school's gymnasium area yields another cryptic footnote -- Ir:D2.  The message reads "fin dthem ornin gedit ion..." -- we can shuffle the spaces around to obtain, "Find the morning edition and discover another crime.  The answer is in black and white to who will do the time."  And another bulletin board message -- SNESNVD INROAI, Kr:L2.  These seem to be combinations of periodic table symbols and directional codes.

Continuing our searching near the gymnasium, we find yet more messages -- K:R1, with three bits of upside-down / mirrored poetry.  "Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, let the books in the library be your answer guide."  "A symbol of kanji worn with great pride, reflects big secret that someone must hide." And finally, "To keep up his charade, even if it meant cheating, to make the grade, he did what it took."  (This last one is tricky to decipher, as some characters can easily be mistaken for others -- I had read part of it as "wake the globs" before realizing it was probably "make the grade."  And I had them reversed as well -- the lines should flow in the opposite direction, so that they rhyme!)

An eye chart near the restrooms seems to be a cipher of some kind, but it's not clear what it means.  Characters tend to hang out very silently, and the 3-D point-and-click navigation tends to allow them to show up unexpectedly.  This guy seems a little creepy, hanging out by the restrooms, and, thanks to some overenthusiastic "idle" animation, looking rather unsteady on his feet at first glance:

Player number 80 turns out to be one Hector Sanchez, the self-nicknamed "Hulk," who is cocky beyond all reasonable measure.  He doesn't seem to know anything about why Jake Rogers was killed, and says he can't answer Nancy's questions now because he has to go to practice, yet he still just stands by the men's room.  We can talk to him some more to learn that Hal Tanaka used to talk to Jake quite a bit, and has a nasty temper; Connie is having some money problems; and Daryl was the one who found Jake's body.

A poster advertises The Crane School of Self-Defense, with phone number 555-JUDO; Nancy can phone them, but the answering machine indicates they are not seeking any new initiates at this time.

A mirrored message on the bulletin board near the library reads, "GRAPE GRAPE / ORANGE COOL / WILL PLAY THE ALARM IN THE SCHOOL," annotated as Zr:R4.  Does this have to do with the soda machine?

After we enter the school library using the key from Aunt Eloise's safe, the music changes to something more suspenseful.  A sports magazine contains an article about steroid abuse, and a strange note in a book lists "Things to Remember:" including this clue: The answer to my fate, A matchbook behind Maxine's schedule holds the first step, My messages hold the remaining 18 steps, the Elements tell the order, The letter and digit tell the direction; I:U2.  It's initialed JR, and since Larry Hagman is in Texas, this is probably a note from the late Jake Rogers.

There seems to be someone running around the library -- an alarm goes off and we hear running footsteps, though we never see anybody and I never figured out what this was all about, despite the suspenseful music.  We can search the library card catalog at a computer, but without some idea of what to look for it's not useful yet.

Talking to Hal again, in the Study Dome, reveals that Hulk suffered an injury recently and may have some issues with steroid use.  Hal doesn't know (or won't tell Nancy) Jake's locker combination, but suggests it might be tied into a phone somehow.  Maybe we need to use JAKE like JUDO on the combination lock -- yep, 5253 it is!

Jake's locker contains a book of English Essays, bookmarked to a piece on etiquette.  And a videotape case, empty.  And a Judo magazine, with an article mentioning a "masked marauder" named Nineco who appeared from nowhere to sweep a local competition.  And a newspaper mentions a break-in at the Drug Station Pharmacy on 80th Street.  (Why would any legitimate pharmacist want to call his or her place of business the Drug Station?)  Apparently several vials of Hectinol, a powerful steroid, were stolen, and this is likely the crime referred to by one of the earlier clues.

Back at Maxine's, I can't find a matchbook behind the schedule, but there is a code written in an empty square -- Te:L3.  We can talk to Daryl a little more -- he seems concerned that Nancy is "writing an article about the murder for the school newspaper," claims not to know Connie well and has no idea why she took Jake to the dance instead of him.  He also says that Hal is intense about becoming a doctor, Sanchez is under pressure to perform, and finding Jake's body was the worst thing that's ever happened to him.

"Uncle Steve" isn't working very hard -- he's still hanging out at Maxine's, drinking coffee and letting Nancy do all the legwork.  He agrees that the videotape is potentially important, and that the notebook in the library might provide clues as to the whereabouts of Jake's journal.

So far, so good -- this one is not as complicated as some of the later Nancy Drew games.  We just have to talk to everyone about everything, solve some puzzles, and we'll make progress.

Back at Aunt Eloise's, I noticed a drawer I hadn't opened.  A note to herself reminds Eloise to talk to Jake about books being out of order, call Nancy about flight info, and call Jackie about Spanish schools.  Aunt Eloise also has a VCR, should we ever find that elusive videotape.  Looking at the encyclopedia on the shelf again, I pull out all the capital letters (since we've seen other ciphers of this form) to get:


I tried some possible letter frequency decodings, and thought I was getting somewhere with a "HAL LOOKS" result at the beginning of the phrase turned backwards, but finally concluded that I was not really getting anywhere.  Maybe I need another clue.  I played through several levels of Barnacle Blast at the diner, but didn't earn any rewards or puzzle assistance.

Is this message encoded using the same code as the diner schedule?  That doesn't get us anywhere either.  So it's time to put a call in to Ned, Nancy's boyfriend -- he misses her, but he's no help, and Nancy's hint-offering friend Bess is not even in her contact list in this early game.  We can change backgrounds on Nancy's phone if we want.

So  now what?  Well, it at always pays to look around -- I missed a Closing Procedure memo at the diner, with this puzzle: 1.3, 8.9, 6.7, 4.4, 5.4, 4.4, 12.5, 4.9, 8.5, 13.6, 4.6, 10.8, 14.5, 4.10; Hg:L3.

There is still no matchbook concealed behind Maxine's schedule, or anywhere near it, as far as I can see.  What about the "remaining 18 steps"?  We can order the clues we've found based on the atomic number of the elements, creating a sequence of coded directions.  Assembling the clues we have so far establishes that we only have twelve of them, so presumably six more are needed.  (And it turns out I don't have to keep such careful track of these notes myself -- they are all logged in Nancy's notebook as we discover them.)

Aha!  The maintenance room lock isn't limited braille numbers, really, there are different patterns to the arrangements of dots.  But I can't find a successful sequence based on logical combinations of patterns; another clue will probably be needed.

Let's make use of another clue and try setting off the soda machine alarm in the student lounge. GRAPE GRAPE / ORANGE COOL -- we don't have to actually buy anything, just press the buttons -- causes the alarm to go off.  And then workers arrive to remove the annoying machine, and Nancy, so this is a fatal error.  Hmmmm.  Let's try the soda machine by the gym instead -- okay, that's not fatal at least.  We can now tell Connie that someone has set off the alarm, and she steps away from her post to deal with it.

While she's gone, we can sneak a peek at her notebook -- she's writing a letter to an unnamed person, who might be dead or at least distant.  It seems to refer to Daryl -- one scratched-out line reads, "I think you're the best student council president ever."  We can get into the Teacher's Lounge now too, and find CL:D2 on the bulletin board. 

We can also log into a PC using Eloise's info.  We can print a security report, read Eloise's email to learn that Jake was on bulletin board duty, which explains some things, and get a whole list of passwords to various places.  The Maintenance Room password is NOTE, and the Teacher's Lounge copier password is WORK, though we don't need this for anything.  The security report indicates that lights were left on in the library, Connie Watson's backpack was found in the student union, and a toolbox was left in the boiler room on the night of Jake's murder.  At 8:05 PM, Hal Tanaka was seen peering into the school's entrance.  At 8:30 some individuals were arguing outside the gym -- a shortish red-haired male and a bigger male with a football jersey with 8 or 0 on it.  Daryl Gray, Nathan Gomber and Yvonne Wong were observed soaping the teacher's lounge windows and compelled to clean it up.  And at  12:01 am, the guard heard screams and found the body of a male teenager, almost certainly Jake Rogers.  So did Daryl not find the body?

We can open the teachers' file cabinet and peruse the Senior Final Papers.  Hal Tanaka's paper on etiquette is an obvious plagiarism of the essay we found earlier, containing the same typographical error, out instead of our.  A map bears the legend "A Trophy was not the only prize, but also money of a greater size" - Ag:D1. A bookshelf contains an old Paseo del Mar Biz Sheet, showing Gray Enterprises sustaining heavy losses but promising a return to strong profits; Gray was apparently under investigation for security leaks around its defense business.

As we are leaving the Teacher's Lounge, a threatening message comes in on Nancy's cell phone -- from a Mitch Dillon?  He's not very anonymous, thanks to Caller ID.  Looking up a braille alphabet online (or in the school library -- I did independent research before realizing the information should also be available in-game), we can get into the maintenance area and use the service elevator.  This takes us to the boiler room, where we see that the school was established in 1967, according to a plaque on the wall.  We can also get some gloves from the toolbox here.

Daryl is touchy about the Gray Enterprises situation, and admits that the night of the soaping prank was the night of Jake's murder, but that's all he'll say.  "Uncle Steve" says Mitch Dillon is a suspect, and if he does anything beyond calling to let him know.  Gee, thanks, Officer!  He also says that the situation with Mitch is "covered," and won't give Nancy any more information.  Nancy can call Mitch back at his business number -- he runs an Air Conditioning/Heating company -- and he denies threatening her, but threatens to find a permanent solution for her "problem."

It seems like a good time to interrogate the student body more closely.  Hal admits to the plagiarism when questioned, saying he was desperate to keep up with his extra college scholarship coursework, and Nancy learns he was blackmailed into doing Jake's homework.  He also says that shortly before Jake died, he mentioned he was late for a meeting with Daryl Gray.  Connie says Hal seems burnt out and stressed.  We can also notice (just visually, there's no clickable hotspot) that Connie is wearing a kanji symbol on a medallion around her neck.  Hulk Sanchez denies that his injury has hurt his chances at all, and claims not to know anything about the pharmacy robbery.

We can order the coded steps we do have, but we need three more... two more, actually, I missed a bulletin board by the entrance.  This one gives us  He:U2, along with a clue about the meaning of the U/D/L/R parts of the code in case we needed one.  Another clue posted by the library is in numeric code -- the values are suspiciously in the range 1-26, so we can break this one easily to read, "COOL, COOL, POP, SPOT, GRAPE", labeled Y:D3.  Just one more missing!

The new soda machine code turns out to be an optional puzzle; it yields an easter egg, and pads Nancy's purse nicely with 99 coins.  Calling Tony's Pizza at 555-TONY doesn't yield any information; we can overhear Connie and Hulk arguing near the gym, and Connie apparently does something physically painful to Hulk to make her point, offscreen.

Nobody seems to want to talk to Nancy anymore at this point, but we still have some code-cracking to do.  "SJOUHRANI is my cash cow" seems worthy of further investigation.  Could it be HECTINOL?  One letter too many.  Is OU one symbol?  Does the WERDYCNAN code on the jukebox follow the same mode?  Is there a letter-frequency basis we can use to break this down?  Ack.

It seems Connie may be the masked Judo champion, she wears a crane medallion and there's a Crane judo school; it also occurs to me that the masked judo champion's name, Nineco, is an anagram of Connie.  But figuring this out doesn't give us any obvious way to move the story forward.

I'm getting stuck here, so a walkthrough comes in handy -- the menu message is HIS JOURNAL IS MY CASH COW; nothing to do with Hectinol, I just missed a highlighted L on the menu!  And the jukebox text is just NANCY DREW backwards.  I've been completely on the wrong track with my decryption attempts!

I also learn that we can exchange the soup ladle for a bolt cutter, hidden under the cutting table in the kitchen at Maxine's; I doubt I would have noticed we can look under the table otherwise.  Can we use the bolt cutters in the boiler room somewhere?  The plaque on the wall is unmovable.  But I had missed a detail earlier -- the toolbox where we found the gloves belongs to Dillon HVAC.  The plot thickens!

I also missed the map drawers in the corner of the library -- and the clue leading to it -- because the constrained navigation common to the Nancy Drew series, due to its prerendered visuals and scripted point-and-click "3-D" pathways, led me to believe we couldn't get to it.  Now that I discovered a way to see it and go to it, we can open a drawer and get the 18th clue, Na:L3.  The accompanying message appears to be "CHUNDER MY COMBO IN CATALOG!" -- odd: Vomit my Happy Meal into the Sears & Roebuck?   Then I realize that the red letters comprise the first part of the message, and the blue letters the second, so it's really "IF ANYTHING HAPPENS TO ME, SEAR-ch under my combo in catalog."  Searching on the code 5253 produces a fake entry, a pseudo-book called Evidence, by J. Rogers, stored Under my Seat in Reference...

Yes! Under a chair by Rogers' chemistry book is a tablet with greek symbols on it.  This is almost certainly the "box" we have to solve, but I don't have the matchbook yet so I don't know where to start.

Back to the diner we go, but there's nothing new here; according to a walkthrough, we're apparently supposed to get a note from Dillon HVAC via Daryl, but nothing of that sort is happening.  So I'd better make sure I've found all the other clues, I guess.  Reference books in the library indicate, among other things, that Lizzie Applegate wrote "The Bandit's Treasure," referenced by the other cryptic book at Aunt Eloise's house, and another volume helps Nancy identify the kanji for Crane, on Connie's medallion.

Now Daryl is a little more talkative -- as open as this adventure's structure seems, there's still some enforced linearity.  "Uncle Steve" has left the diner, but Daryl says he's been acting strangely -- apparently he lost something at the diner last week and went "psycho," accusing the staff of stealing it.  Now Daryl hands us a note promising a solution to the mystery -- we are to meet the sender in the basement of the maintenance room at the school.  This note comes from Dillon again, apparently -- he used a company envelope!  If anonymity is his goal, he's really bad at it.

In the boiler room, the fire is burning much hotter than usual -- perhaps we'll see if the emergency warning on the wall about overheating is correct.  A matchbook is here, apparently the one we've been looking for -- it has a greek symbol on it -- next to a Maxine's cup.  Was the matchbook what "Uncle Steve" lost?  Is he in cahoots with Dillon?  Whoops, I wasted too much time investigating the clues, and now the furnace has blown a hole in the wall... and Nancy.  We'd better tend to the crisis quickly -- we can cut the chain off with the bolt cutters instead of messing with the combination lock, but we have to lower the levers in a puzzle sequence to match the dial positions shown on the emergency poster on the wall.

With the furnace returned to normal operating condition, we see that the elevator controls are broken.  We can exit through a grate -- and the videocassette we've been looking for is sitting conveniently in front of it.  Now let's try to open Jake's puzzle box!  Starting with the symbol from the matchbook and pressing buttons in a pattern defined by the element-sorted codes, it clicks open, and contains... another videocassette?

We hurry back to Aunt Eloise's house to use her VCR.  One video accuses Daryl Gray of selling military secrets from his Dad's corporation, to... Dillon HVAC???  Jake Rogers apparently found out and was blackmailing Dillon for money.  And Dillon isn't using the military tech to design better heating and cooling systems -- he's selling them to "Uncle Steve," which explains why the police officer has been rather unhelpful, and why he wants "the journal" so badly -- it's actually his record of the whole industrial espionage operation.  We learn that it's taped under a book cart at the school, though in my playthrough I did not have a chance to retrieve it at this point.  The other videotape shows Hulk Sanchez obtaining Hectinol, Connie stashing a trophy and her ninja costume, and Hal plagiarizing his essay -- Jake was apparently running a substantial blackmailing operation.  (If we don't have both videotapes at this point, apparently we can take time to go back to the school and confront the students -- but in my playthrough I didn't get to do that, as the endgame kicks in as soon as we view Jake's hidden tape.)

Before we can leave Aunt Eloise's house, Detective Beech arrives -- and Nancy lets slip that she's found his journal, rather than referring it to as Jake's.  He holds her at gunpoint, casually confirms that Dillon killed Jake, and demands to know where his journal is.  All of Nancy's options are lies -- according to her, it's somewhere in or around the house's entrance.  This allows the designers to get some late exposition out of the way -- while he's hunting wherever Nancy directs him, a little dialogue moves the story along.

Finally, Nancy can hint that the journal is concealed behind the tapestry, in the safe, and then lie to him about the combination -- hopefully we'll find out what sort of booby trap Aunt Eloise has set up. We have to give him the wrong password three times, at which point a burglar-proof cage drops down and surrounds the would-be safecracker.  The bad guy is behind bars -- and apparently the local authorities are rather embarrassed about having a criminal on the force, right under their noses, so they're concealing his identity:

The students confess to their various offenses and deceptions, just to put a tidy ending on everything.  And Nancy is off to relax by the seashore for a while:

All's well that ends well -- for Nancy, anyway.  She kicks back on the beach, and doesn't seem to be at all concerned about the late Jake Rogers, the likely-to-lose-his-scholarship plagiarist Hal Tanaka, the steroid-addicted and game-injured would-be athlete Hector "Hulk" Sanchez, or the likely-to-be-convicted Daryl Gray.  Connie's situation is, thankfully, a bit more ambiguous -- we can at least hope that she gets over her fight fright and goes on to a successful judo career.

The game wraps up with an old adventure game tradition -- promoting the next game in the series with a preview of Nancy Drew #23: Shadow at the Water's Edge, inspired by Japanese horror films and providing a marked contrast to this early, relatively simple tale.  I'll likely keep returning to this series now and then -- the games are fun and challenging, but they also tend to be a little formulaic, so I'll just keep them in the mix.

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