Natalie Brooks:
Mystery at Hillcrest High


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Rating: 4.2/5 (29 votes)
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Natalie Brooks: Mystery at Hillcrest High

GrinnypNatalie Brooks fans rejoice! Our heroine is back, and she's... in high school? Well, not really, although she does spend some time there. Natalie Brooks: Mystery at Hillcrest High — the third in the popular hidden object/adventure hybrid series — is back and better than ever. Alawar Games has brought Natalie back home to the town where she grew up with an adventure that starts with a letter from an old-school chum and ends in a wild hot air balloon chase. In between is action, adventure, mini-games, loads of puzzles, and yes, some hidden object goodness as well.

Natalie BrooksAfter a brief cut-scene involving the aforementioned balloon and a cliff-hanger, our story begins as Natalie picks up the mail. Much to her surprise she finds a letter from an old friend, Chad. Soon she will discover the hidden message inside the letter, and the race is on, a rollicking action/adventure featuring mayhem, treachery, kidnapping, robbery, and lots of things that go boom. But first she must track down Chad. And then his friend Kitty. And then figure out why Chad was kidnapped. And then figure out what the Black Cat gang is up to. And then... well, you get the picture.

With this, the third in the series (Secrets of Treasure House and The Treasures of the Lost Kingdom) Natalie Brooks has made the leap into true point-and-click adventure. Hover your mouse cursor everywhere and watch for it to change to denote areas that are of interest or things that can be picked up or manipulated. Pretty soon you will be unlocking doors, breaking windows, uncovering hidden passages, etc. that lead to different areas. The player will wander back and forth between the areas (sometimes several) finding inventory items, solving puzzles, playing mini-games and mini-puzzles, and occasionally wandering into a hidden object scene or two. Eventually everything will be solved and you can move on to the next location and next chapter of the story.

Natalie BrooksAs you continue through a chapter you will uncover more and more things to accomplish. Fortunately there's a handy "goals" scroll being kept so you can keep track of everything that is necessary to get through the area. A scrolling inventory also helps keep track of what you have and what you have left to do. And of course there's Natalie herself, giving you hints and letting you know when you've done something wrong.

The quality and difficulty of the mini-games and puzzles ranges from simple to mind-boggling. There is a nice mix of old and new to be had, as well as some mini-games that are pure arcade-style fun requiring nothing more than speed and dexterity. Although the characters and cut-scenes continue in the cartoony, hand drawn style the series is famous for, the adventure scenes have moved to the three dimensional and photo-real. This makes the wider variety of games and puzzles possible, as well as adding another dimension (ha!) in the handling of certain objects, such as a 3D teddy bear bomb that you must rotate and manipulate as you disarm it. The game has a handy refilling hint feature, as well as the ability to skip the mini-games and mini-puzzles.

Analysis: Natalie Brooks: Mystery at Hillcrest High makes the leap to true point-and-click adventure hybrid without losing the wit and humor that made the games so fun to begin with. The art, while certainly not going to give Dire Grove a run for its money, is still refreshing and adds to the gameplay experience. In certain areas lighting, weather, and other factors enhance the look-and-feel of the game. A lively soundtrack and sound effects serve to round out the experience.

Are there drawbacks? Yes, a few. Some of the arcade style games are a bit jerky or difficult, but they can easily be skipped. The art is nice, but there is better out there. A hint feature for some of the more difficult mini-puzzles would have been nice, as well. On the plus side the game is longer than most, especially if you don't skip the mini-games. You can look forward to several hours of challenging casual gameplay with Natalie. In these days of ever shrinking gameplay and ever more simple mini-puzzles, Natalie Brooks is a breath of fresh air.

Natalie Brooks: Mystery at Hillcrest High is fun, casual gameplay at its best. With this game Alawar shows its determination to go toe-to-toe with the big guns of the hybrid field, Mystery Case Files and Hidden Expedition. The narrative structure is delightful, the games and puzzles fun, and the action cut-scenes thrilling. Quirky, charming, exciting, and just plain fun, give Natalie Brooks a try! Even if it does mean going back to high school, however briefly.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

38 Comments

kreshraven December 29, 2009 9:06 PM

how do you open the time lock of piggy bank at the office?

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What's the morse code pattern that you're supposed to use to get the ship to put it's flag up? I've looked everywhere, even tried the pattern on the ship and it still won't work, some help would be greatly appreciated

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Morse Code

The lightpoints with the hidden compartments all show a line or a point at the end. This is your patter.

_ . _ _ . (Dash-Dot-Dash-Dash-Dot)

Greetings, Kayleigh

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Anonymous January 1, 2010 8:39 AM

help, I need to figure out the money code order - I'm totally stuck.

[Edit: Can you please tell me, where you are? Which chapter, which location? Right now, I don't know, what exactly your problem is ~ Kayleigh]

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The Morse code is located within the niches after you fix the mirror inside the lighthouse, on the ceiling. Check the shape of the niches on the inside, and you have your answer. Just follow them in order, top to bottom. I'm having trouble trying to escape the office with Chad. I can't figure out the Zodiac clock, or how to opent he door behind the bookcase. Any help with that spot would be appreciated.

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If you look at a letter in the office that is in the solar lock you will see a birthdate. Then up in the bell tower there was another note that said the what zodiac was that birthdate and what chinese symbol it was (gemini, Rat)

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i can't find the pieces for the shield in the highschool lobby HELP!!!!!!!!

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Anonymous January 6, 2010 12:40 AM

how do you get the bat out of the case in the high school?

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Okay so I got to part where you have to solve the code to get the ship to put its flag up but I'm confused because I cant find any clues to help me solve the problem. Exactly what am I supposed to be doing or looking for?

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jessica - morse code
When you look a little higher in the comments, you will find a spoiler called "Morse Code" - you will find help there.

Greetings, Kayleigh

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Am I just being lazy? How do you turn on the light in the lighthouse??

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abfab - light in lighthouse

Did you already find the key in the pocket of Chad's coat?
After this click the broken light bulb and the mirrorframe - find the twelve mirror pieces and drag them onto the mirror frame.
Go completly down and open the cabinet with the key - get out the light bulbs.
Go up and place the light bulbs

Greetings, Kayleigh

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I dont know how what to do after i raised the flag for the ship. How do i get into the cache with the symbols

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I entered the time for the piggy bank several times after seeing the time posted on the picture on the desk and it did not open..

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lele - cache with symbols

Use the telescope to have a closer view at the flag. Set the symbols on the cache according to the flag order

Greetings, Kayleigh

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Thanks Kayleigh, but where is Chad's coat? Is it in the light house? If not, how do I get back to previous levels?

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abfab - Light
Ups.... I guess, you just reached the lighthouse? Sooooorry, I thought, you are already at the top of the lighthouse....

  • The lightswitch is at the wall right side, in the middle but it does not work.

  • On one of the stairs right side you will find electric tape - pick it up.

  • On the left you see a note board standing - grab the metal tub standing under it.

  • Left next to the board you can grab a towl

  • Place the metal tub on the puddle in the middle of the room on the floor.

  • Dry the water on the floor with the towel.

  • Repair the sparkling cable on the floor with the tape

  • Use the light switch

  • Screenshot

Greetings, Kayleigh

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Help...I am at the part where you have to figure out the code at the top of the lighthouse in the puzzle in the cache in the floor. I cannot get it for anything. This is before you do the moorse code to raise ships flag. Please help.

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I'm at the school and need to move the bus to free Chad, but I can't figure out how to open the fridge or the storage cabinet in the kitchen. I have a rope and a meat hook. Help please??

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Help. Im in the principles office and dont no what to do! I have a sponge, rope and flute. The lamp is on and says hot but not sure what i'm meant to do next!

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Help! I'm in the Principals office and I've gone up to roof and tried everything .everytime I press help it lights up the pamphlet inside the desk my next goal is "to get out" can't figure it out, all I have left is the lighter

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Anonymous January 23, 2010 3:12 PM

I dont get the morse code.
Can you just tell me what it is?

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Hi all, I am also having problems trying to open the piggy bank. I keep setting the time to the time on the photo but it wont open. It's very frustrating. Am I doing something wrong?

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am stuck on chapter 6 in the bandits den, there is a drawer with currency symbols on and i dont know how to get it open,i have tryed everything i can think of but desperatley need help thanx

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Katy nd Angie May 29, 2010 10:50 PM

on chapter 6... at the snyder's office cant get the suitcase open. we think the wax is in the suitcase but help us! plz we r desperate!!!!!!

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Katy nd Angie May 29, 2010 11:09 PM

at chapter 6 in principal's office 1:how do i open the suitcase? 2:how do i make the mold so i can get to the secret room? desperately needing help been at this since 2:30p. HELP US {ME AND MY MOM} Please!

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salibri Author Profile Page June 16, 2010 8:45 PM

stuck trying to open suitcase in chapter 6

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Wrong time in wedding photo:

I repeatedly failed to open the piggy bank by setting the lock to the time in the wedding photo. The wedding photo in my game says 9:15 pm. Then I read a walkthrough that stated that the time in the wedding photo was 6 pm. When I set the piggy bank to this time it DID work!

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i need help to figure out the different money codes i dont know what order to put them in

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Stuck at the currency drawer,tried everything.what is the correct symbols.

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Anonymous April 4, 2011 12:39 AM

Help!! I'm stuck in chapter 6 (I think). How do I get the maggotts off the broken tv to retrieve the billiard ball? And how do I get the other piece of the puzzle lock for the door?

Thanks, Amy

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Billiard Ball from the tv

  • Go inside the house and use the plug with lamp inside the closet. Look closer into the closet and take the pliers.

  • Use the pliers at the tv antenna and the antenna to get off the maggotts

Puzzle piece

  • Click the currency smybol at the chair on the left side.

  • Click the symbols till you have the currencies in the following order: Y-S-E-L

  • Take out the puzzle piece and the red ball

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i am trying to figure out how to open the briefcase of suitcase in the came up in the schools principal office can't figure it out can someone help me

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Emily -

You need to match up the images from the leaflet in the drawer with those in the wallet.
The first 3 on the postcard are numbered 871 on the leaflet.
The last 3 on the leaflet are numbered 542 on the postcard.
Use these numbers on the combination lock of the suitcase.

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the code for the money yen $ euro pd

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i am stuck in the prin. office. all i have is the earth . cant find any keys for the solor or that big door help

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theresa -

The other planets are scattered all over the room. The key for the solar system is where you found Earth. The other key is

in the center of the note you find once you've placed all the planets.

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