One of the more interesting gaming footnotes in Nintendo’s long and storied history is its Famicom Detective Club adventure games released back at the end of the 80s. While the games later received SNES and GBA ports in Japan, the games never came Westward, until now.
Released as a duology, the first game in the series was The Missing Heir. This dealt with a mysterious death in the Ayashiro dynasty, with the Utsugi Detective Agency called in to investigate. However, the game starts with you suffering from amnesia, so that only complicates matters further.
Navigating through the game is pretty straightforward, as you can examine areas and talk to people. The main “game” is definitely within the latter sphere though, as you have to carefully listen to what each person tells you. You also often need to ask the same questions several times to get all the information you need.
Just spamming questions won’t get you very far though and you will need to employ a good degree of careful logic to progress successfully through the story and solve the mystery. Being thorough is key though, as the main points of the overall mystery tend to unravel in a somewhat obtuse manner.
The second game, The Girl Who Stands Behind, is actually a prequel to the first game and generally flows more logically. Functionally it operates in the same manner, as you examine areas and ask various questions to people.
The narrative path is more direct in this game, though a lot spookier. It also doesn’t try to mislead you as much. However, you should still work through your line of questioning in a careful and logical manner, as per The Missing Heir.
Both games look solid and have decent animation for the characters, with many of the environments looking very nice indeed. The Japanese voiceover work is also good and the updated music is decently done, though you can also revert back to the original 8-bit score if you want. So from a production value standpoint, these two games have been updated properly.
In terms of the general playthrough though, I personally think it’s best to tackle the games in the order they were released in rather than the narrative chronology. Mainly because The Missing Heir is more roundabout in how the mystery unravels, so moving onto The Girl Who Stands Behind feels more functionally fluid.
However, while these games are both interesting and have been remade deftly for the Switch, they do still feel more of a curiosity than anything else.
While these games were both penned by Yoshio Sakamoto, of Metroid fame, they are from a very different era of gaming and aren’t really for everyone. I think this is partly because they initially appear to be visual novels but are in fact closer to adventure games.
Naturally, I am very happy that Nintendo decided to remake these games, as they are most certainly historically pertinent in a gaming sense, but they still feel a bit out of place.
Overall, the Famicom Detective Club games are interesting gaming curiosities from an older era of gaming. If you are more of a Nintendo historian, then you will find these games fascinating. For everyone else though, they are an acquired taste.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Released: May 14th 2021
Disclosure: Nintendo sent me these games for the purposes of this review.
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