Pop Culture References in Games

Hey there Nancy Drew Clue Crew,

How many times have you replayed your favorite Nancy Drew game? 10? 20 times? I know I have played the series through two or three times completely, but when it comes to individual games, I start losing count. I must have played Secret of the Old Clock or Danger by Design at least 15 times over the years. In fact, downloading these “old” games is one of the first things I do whenever I get a new computer. Today I have been thinking about what gives these games, in particular, such a high replay value for myself. Perhaps the mystery is just that compelling, or maybe it is because those two games have some of my favorite locations to explore. It’s hard to put your finger on just what makes these games so much fun to replay!

Without a doubt, one of the reasons why I love replaying all of the Nancy Drew games is for the hidden pop-culture references that you can find. They are blended so well into the background and are so unassuming, that you can play a game multiple times before you notice. Secret of the Old Clock definitely has the most pop culture references. I explored this topic and pointed out many of the references from this game in a blog post during my first year as an intern. Frome Jane Erye to Friday the 13th, practically everyone you deliver telegrams to is from some fictional universe outside of Nancy Drew!

Back in 2018, my roommate at the time started watched the television show Lost for the first time and I would watch a few episodes with her from time to time. I watched the show when I was younger, but it must not have coincided with playing Danger by Design. I thought I was seeing things when I replayed that game after a long Netflix marathon and noticed the number below Hugo’s in Jean-Mi’s PDA. The famous “4 8 15 16 23 42” set of numbers in Lost is listed as the number of Anne Lucie Croix. The name translates to Ana Lucia Cortez who was a character on the show. Danger by Design came out in 2006 right when Lost was arguably at its most popular.

Some other quick references that come to mind

  1. The “Yo” poster in Final Scene seems like a little shout-out to my favorite llama. The Final Scene came out in 2001 and Emperor’s New Groove came out in 2000. 
  2. In Secret’s Can Kill there is a pharmacy called Vandelay Pharmacy. Secret’s Can Kill came out in 1998. A very popular television show called Seinfeld was in its last season in 1998. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few Seinfeld fans were at HeR Interactive then because Vandelay Industries was a fictional company that one of the main characters, George Costanza, claimed to have been interviewed for as a latex salesman when applying for an extension at the unemployment office in season 3 episode 34.
  3. Either I’ve never unlocked this conversation or I don’t remember it, but according to many super sleuths online, in the Haunted Carousel Bess mentions that she watches The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  4. In Curse of Blackmoor Manor, Jane mentions a relative named Marianne “got shipwrecked on a deserted island with a whole bunch of yahoos.” This is a reference to the television series Gilligan’s Island.

I can’t think of any other hidden pop culture references at the moment! I wish there was a page about all of them on the Nancy Drew Wiki like there is for all the hidden easter eggs or cookies in our games. Are there any references I am missing? Let me know in the comment section below! Maybe we can use this blog post as an unofficial place to list them all.



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