Red Herring Labs, makers of epic point-and-click adventures like Morningstar and Hetherdale, takes its high production values and evident love for the medium toward a more comic, Monkey Island-esque direction with its new game Nick Toldy and the Legend of Dragon Peninsula. Control a young man who dreams of becoming a knight, slaying a dragon, and winning a princess... or at least that's what the brochure promised him. But the reality of Dragon Peninsula is a little more... bureaucratic. His first major puzzle involves filling out a form and getting a permit. Doesn't sound too enthralling, but it ends up being both very funny and a good work-out to the inventory puzzle solving quadrant of your brain. You know. It's right next to the frontal lobe.
Adventure games all handle their controls a little differently, but the general concept of gaining and using inventory is the same. This particular game keeps your inventory handy at all times on top of the game window. Select an item by clicking on it and use it on hotspots in the scene, on other inventory items, or on the small magnifying glass to get more details. All clicking in the game is single left clicks, no need to hold, drag, or right click. You can tell an object can be interacted with by hovering over it. If it gets a small text label, like "man", you can click on it. The menu contains sound and music controls and an option for saving the game.
Analysis: Puzzle solving and item combining in Nick Toldy can be a bit fussy. The game avoids strict linearity by giving you several puzzles to solve at a time, but puzzle solutions are occasionally illogically specific in what must be done first. For example, without spoiling you with an actual solution, you'll have among your items three items that seem like they go together, like a chain, a clasp, and a pendant. But the game will only accept the combination of combining the chain and the pendant first, and then adding the clasp. Combining the chain and clasp gives you a "this is no help" kind of message. This can cause you to erroneously think you're stuck, even though you actually have the right idea about what goes together.
For the most part, however, the game gives good clues about what to do without holding your hand and making it too easy. Items picked up early on are kept and reused later, which is sensible and definitely more realistic than the escape game hero who chucks away his screwdriver. Yet the inventory never gets overwhelmingly large and traps you in that boring slog of trying each one of forty-seven objects on a hotspot. At an hour plus game length, Nick Toldy and the Legend of Dragon Peninsula will give those who yearn for the glory days of Sierra Entertainment a meaty afternoon's entertainment, and probably win some new fans to the genre as well.