Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir & Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind — Review

Famicom Detective Club is a visual novel title that revives two classic forerunners of the genre originally released in the 80s. Developed for the Famicom (Japanese NES) and later remade on the Super Famicom (Japanese SNES), these titles offer an intricate plot as you solve murder mysteries. In particular, these remakes were developed by MAGES, a.k.a. 5pb, the studio behind the critically acclaimed series Steins;Gate. It’s also worth mentioning the series was originally written by Metroid producer, Yoshio Sakamoto, with music by Metroid series composer, Kenji Yamamoto!

The premise of Famicom Detective Club involves solving murder mysteries by investigating crime scenes and interviewing witnesses. If you’ve played other visual novels before, you may be familiar with the layout. However, if you’re not familiar, the simple premise involves point-and-click gameplay to further the story.

The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind both play similarly. As such, I’ll review both concurrently. Assuming you enjoy The Missing Heir, I imagine you will be inclined to buy the sequel. If you’re on the fence, though, hopefully you’ll be able to decide if it’s for you once you’ve read the review.

The Missing Heir starts off with your protagonist awakening in a stranger’s house with a case of amnesia. If you’re familiar with visual novels, you will immediately identify this all-too-common trope. You begin to remember that you were sent to investigate a mysterious death and the inheritance of a fortune. The case becomes more complicated as you come across more people related to your case turning up dead.

The Girl Who Stands Behind focuses a little more on ghost stories and supernatural indications. Solving a murder mystery, you’ll uncover the truth behind a decade-old rumor that’s haunted a school. In both games, however, you’ll interact with strangers, befriend new allies, and dig into the nitty-gritty over the course of 8 or so hours.

You’ll get your fair share of humorous scenes too.

I can’t say that the pacing itself was anything amazing. Bit-by-bit the episodes reveal the truth through the clues you uncover. However, things don’t really get dangerous or heated until the end of each respective game. At which point, you learn some dire and incredible plot twists and wind up in grave danger in the process. I would have loved for this type of momentum to carry through more of the game since I feel the climax was the best part of each title.

As remakes of two Famicom titles of the 80s, they look and feel like all-new titles. The glorious high-definition art and animation speak of a modern-day classic. The arranged music also features haunting vibes as well as some 80s basslines.

I really enjoy the designs in this game. Not just because the nurse is cute, either.

All the voice acting is in Japanese but I enjoyed the dialogue and banter between characters as well. If you’re seeking nostalgia, you can also change the soundtrack to the Famicom or Super Famicom (Part II only) versions as well.

Famicom Detective Club revolves around a point-and-click style. You’ll pick from a menu of options on who to interact with and what to talk about. You’ll also investigate each map searching for clues.

Your actions might brighten or dampen the mood of people. Though this won’t affect the story in the long run.

I found The Missing Heir gave you a bit of a runaround. It could become difficult knowing what to talk about to advance to the next section. I used a guide to discover that, in some cases, I would have to discuss the same topic 2 or even 3 times before I could advance the dialogue. Otherwise, I would hit a wall where I would either Travel aimlessly or run down the list. It honestly got repetitive.

Sometimes you can scare the old folks for fun with superstitions.

This is a flaw to a lesser extent in The Girl Who Stands Behind. Thankfully this is due to the Think command which, after you’ve more or less exhausted dialogue, you can summarize the events and move forward. Some of the fun in the gameplay comes from teasing characters, such as repeatedly staring at Ayumi or taking away Hitomi’s disguise. The interactions themselves bring life into the game.

I put this section here knowing that a number of people who play this game are familiar with Capcom’s Ace Attorney titles on DS, 3DS, and other consoles. If you’re coming in as an Ace Attorney fan, think it exclusively to the Investigation scenarios. Now, imagine that instead of presenting Evidence, your menu consists of topics to talk about.

You’ll investigate bodies for clues but only find a handful of times to do this among both games.

You will examine dead bodies for clues. However, this is starkly limited to a small handful of bodies. Furthermore, you’ll honestly be searching for clues seldom throughout the game in comparison at least. I found myself getting use of the Search function only a handful of times throughout both games. Most of your progression will come through talking to the characters. Also, you don’t have to worry about a penalty meter ending your game.

I wouldn’t say Famicom Detective Club is ever as dire in terms of plot twists at least until the very last stretch of the game. It doesn’t have a continuous sense of danger and tension. Naturally, I imagine Ace Attorney, which came out 10+ years after Famicom Detective Club, built heavily on the foundation of classic visual novel title games. However, if you’re looking for something in the genre and enjoy detective work, then I encourage you to give it a try.

I enjoyed these games and feel they fit right in as Nintendo classics. Coming all the way from 20 years ago when Ayumi Tachibana debuted as a Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, I was always curious about this game. I wanted to know more about Nintendo’s hidden library and Japan-exclusive titles. Plus as I began growing as fan of visual novels, I picked up Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick, Zero Escape, and Hotel Dusk. Famicom Detective Club is Nintendo’s IP and a rarity when you consider the number of dead franchises we haven’t seen in years, such as F-Zero or spin-offs like Kirby Air Ride.

America’s first look at this series was through a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001).

I read an interview from the developer insisting he would love to make sequels to these games. I would absolutely adore playing more games in the series. I’m more partial to puzzle-solving elements but I still enjoyed reading through these games nonetheless. Whatever MAGES and Nintendo can do to keep a classic series afloat would garner my interest for sure.

If you’re looking for the classic visual novel and don’t mind a little slow pacing, you’ll surely enjoy it. If you love gorgeous artwork, character design, plot twists, and attractive character design, then you’ll surely love Famicom Detective Club!

Product Release: Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir & Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind

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Originally published at https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com.

Freelance writer. I enjoy video games, anime, and wrestling. Competitive in Smash Bros. I write about your favorite games.