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The Nancy Drew Mystery Game

In 1957, Parker Brothers released the earliest of the Nancy Drew book related collectibles, The Nancy Drew Mystery Game. The game featured Nancy on the box lid in a red raincoat and matching hat sleuthing around an old mansion, flashlight in hand. A storm was brewing and a flash of lightning flashed through the dark sky as rain pelted down. The 1959 version featured only Nancy, wearing a green raincoat and no matching hat. She held a flashlight and had a look of surprise on her face however there was no spooky scene surrounding her as on the 1957 version. Also there was a green seal to the left of Nancy with a silhouette inside that was rather mannish looking--almost like Frankenstein. Unfortunately the silhouette that should have been used from the books was not and I am not sure who made the decision to use this silhouette?! The 1959 version was available both in the US and Canada. The Canadian box lid was the same as the US version except for a black and white swirling symbol, as shown above on right. Recently discovered is the 1970's version of the game produced in Norway--see image at left.

Inside the box came the following parts:

  • game board
  • 2 dice
  • 40 mystery cards
  • 4 different colored playing pieces--20 to 30 of each color
  • 4 metal cars
  • instructions
  • Parker Brothers advertising brochure

Game Instructions

There were instructions for the 1957 and 1959 US versions but these were printed on the inside of the box lid as opposed to the 1959 Canadian game instructions which came on their own sheet of paper--English on one side and French on the other. Click here for a PDF file of the Nancy Drew game instructions, located at Hasbro's website.

The introduction of the game was as follows:

"Nancy Drew is the ingenious daughter of a famous lawyer, and she herself is deeply interested in his mystery cases. Her interest often involves her in dangerous and exciting situations. In this game she is working on one of her many cases. The players in the game try to locate her and find out which case she is trying to solve."

The object was to be the first player to discover Nancy's whereabouts by filling in the word 'NANCY' with five markers of the same color. Each player--up to 4--picks a color and they get that corresponding car and set of markers. The car is the piece that moves you along the game board. Two dice were included to use to roll to determine the number of spaces to move.

Game Board & Location

The game boards ranged from blue to red for the 1957 version, blue for the 1959 US version and red, green, and black for the 1959 Canadian version. On the back of the board was a sticker that featured the art on the box lid. If you find an old ratty game missing some of its parts, consider framing the game board to hang with your collection.

Locations on the game board were from the mystery stories:

The Haunted Bridge, The Ghost of Blackwood Hall, The Mystery of the Tolling Bell, The Secret of Red Gate Farm, The Mystery of the Hollow Oak, The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, The Sign of the Twisted Candles, and The Secret in the Old Attic. Also featured on the board is the Drew Home and Moon Lake, the lake Nancy visited in The Secret of the Old Clock. The "bad" place to end up on the board is the Spider Web, perhaps inspired by Old Attic. One thing not in the books that is on the board and seems somewhat odd is that at the Haunted Bridge location, there is a witch holding a broom--obviously not from this book!

There were action oriented spaces on the game boards which allowed players to place markers on spaces, go to Moon Lake Bridge, remove an opponent's marker, remove your own markers, and go to the Spider Web.

Metal Cars, Playing Pieces, & Playing Cards

The cars for the game were metal for all versions. The playing pieces ranged from thicker round wooden disks to plastic flat disks. The 1957 version featured the wooden disks. The 1959 US version featured both wooden and plastic disks. The 1959 Canadian version featured only plastic disks.

The colors for cars and disks ranged from a standard blue, yellow, red, and green combination to a white, purple, salmon, and turquoise combination. The 1957 version had only blue, yellow, red, and green pieces. The 1959 US and Canadian versions featured both color combinations.

There were 40 mystery playing cards and these varied in color from yellow to peach/orange in color. The cards featured these characters from the books: Nancy, Bess, Ned, Carson Drew, Hannah Gruen, Mr. Grumper( Tolling Bell ) and Mr. Gombet( Hidden Staircase. )

Situations on the cards had these type of moves: changing positions with other player's cars, removing a marker from a location and replacing it with one of your own, placing markers on vacant spaces, placing markers at a specific location and getting to remove opposing player's markers, getting to take another turn, removing all of one letter's markers and getting to place markers on one particular letter all over the game board, getting to go to Moon Lake Bridge, and the worst of all--having to go to the Spider Web.

There was also a Parker Brothers brochure inside the game box featuring other games to buy and play.

Only in one instance have I seen a game with the metal cars on pedestals--metal pedestals that were part of the cars. Perhaps there are other games out there that have cars like this? Versions of the cars with windows cut out have also turned up for both the 1957 and the 1959 versions.

These cars were found in a 1959 US version game with the white, purple, salmon, and turquoise colors.

Breakdown of Game Formats

The following chart breaks down all of the various game formats to keep you organized on what to collect as there are at least 8 formats to collect in all:

Games: Blue Board Red Board Green Board Black Board B/Y/G/R
Wood
Pieces
B/Y/G/R
Plastic
Pieces
W/P/S/T
Plastic
Pieces
Yellow Cards Peach Cards
1957 Game X X - - X - - X X
1959 US Game X - - - X X X X X
1959 CA Game - X X X - X X X X

Other Series Book Games to Collect

There were other series book games created for: The Hardy Boys®, Tom Swift®, The Dana Girls, Cherry Ames, and The Bobbsey Twins®. Click on the images below to see the various games. Several were issued in Canada as well like the Nancy Drew® games were.



Free counters provided by Andale.

Copyright 2002-2011 by Jennifer Fisher. All Rights Reserved. Nancy Drew® and the Hardy Boys® are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved. This site is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Any of Simon & Schuster's Copyright material appearing on this site complies with fair or acceptable use principles established in U.S. and International copyright law for the purpose of review, study, criticism, or news reporting.