Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir launched in Japan on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988. And, a prequel for that title was released in 1989, called Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind. These titles were originally created by Yoshio Sakamoto, who went on to create the Metroid series.
These adventure titles were only released in Japan, and have never made a trip to the west, with complete localization. At least not until now. Thanks to Mages, in collaboration with Nintendo, both titles have hit the Nintendo eShop with full English text and Japanese voice acting. But do these games hold up almost 3 decades later? Let’s take a look!
Famicom Detective Club Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Adventure, Simulation
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Intriguing Detective Stories
Although released after The Missing Heir, Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind comes first chronologically. In this prequel, you play a young Japanese man who, when he was 15, ran away from an orphanage to find the whereabouts of his parents. While running from the police, the boy runs into famed detective, Shunsuke Utsugi, who convinces the boy to become his assistant. As the game unfolds, you work to solve a number of mysteries surrounding your town. Most specifically, unwinding the tale of the supposed blood soaked ghost of a girl who stands behind a student.
When the game ends, the young detective gets a call from Zenzou Tanabe who asks the detective to come to Myojin Village. This directly works into the plot of the first game, Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir. This game begins with the detective falling from a cliff and losing most of his memories. Fortunately, he is saved by a passerby named Amachi. Through a series of events, the detective remembers that he is investigating the sudden death of Kiku Ayashiro. And, what unfolds is a tale of murder, theft, strained family relationships, and much more.
All of this is spurred by the village legend that the dead will return to life to kill anyone who attempts to steal the treasure of the Ayashiro family. Through these game’s many twists and turns, the sense of adventure is never lost. And, everything comes full circle in the final chapter.
Remade from the Ground Up
Although Nintendo is charging a premium for both these titles, the amount of content in these games is more than I imagined. Each chapter takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour to complete, which puts each game around 10 hours long. While the replayability is low, you know all the facts. The constant moment-to-moment drama makes the price of entry completely worth it.
Mages has done an excellent job bringing these games into the 21st century. The background settings and character animations are top notch. Capping it off are fantastic Japanese voice acting, complete with expressions. While I enjoyed reading through the English text, having the Japanese voice acting is an outstanding touch that really makes these games shine just a bit brighter.
It is worth noting, however, that English voice acting is not an option here, so these games require a fair amount of reading for those who do not understand Japanese.
Dead End Conversations
Both Famicom Detective Club titles suffer from one major drawback, that could ultimately impact how you feel about the overall experience. While the games sometimes highlight specific questions and topics you will need to inquire about with various folks, more often than not, it is up to you to decide what to do next. Moreover, far too often, this comes down to selecting every option in every menu before something clicks.
Logically, you should be able to piece together which questions you should ask, which items you should show, etc. However, that really is not the case. Sometimes, the most un-noteworthy discussion topic is what you will need to explore in order to push the story forward. Logic does not exist here; it is purely a click-until-something-works sort of scenario. And this comes up at least a couple times per chapter, and can definitely pull you out of the experience.
The other let-down is more something you should be aware of, rather than something that is inherently wrong with the game. Both Famicom Detective Club titles are linear. As a result, you might have information that you want to explore further, but if the game is not ready for you to explore those clues, you aren’t able to. This actually is not a problem, but if you go in expecting an open-ended mystery, you will be sorely disappointed.
Both Famicom Detective Club games offer a rewarding single player experience
If you are known to enjoy a good mystery novel every once in a while, or enjoy mystery television shows, you will thoroughly enjoy both Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind. Both games are epic, mysterious tales that give you enough freedom to believe you are actually putting the pieces together yourself.
While a wholly single player experience, playing with my wife has been a phenomenal experience, as we both guess who might have committed the crime, and what might come next. While some may balk at the price of these titles, rest assured that Mages and Nintendo have gone above and beyond to remaster these games for the Nintendo Switch. If you missed out on these titles in the past, now is a fantastic time to jump in.
+ Fantastic writing
+ Great voice acting
+ Beautiful visuals
– Not every situation has a logical answer
– Once you beat the games there is really no reason to go back and play
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF FAMICOM DETECTIVE CLUB
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5
Overall Rating 3.6/5 (72%)
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Great review Jon! I don’t recall if I’ve ever played a mystery game like these. Is there one that you enjoyed more than the other?
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