et me say right away that I am a huge fan of any game involving solving crimes. No matter how terrible they may be, if your game says “Solve the mystery!” or “Catch the killer!” on the back of the box, chances are good you’ll get my money. All the CSI games, NCIS, an array of generically titled DS games, the list goes on. That being said, I am ashamed of myself that I am only now discovering Famicom Detective Club Part II for the Super Nintendo.
The game has never seen a release outside of Japan but a translation was released in 2004. I played the game on a reproduction cartridge made by OCDReproductions, and it’s a damn fine piece of work that comes highly recommended.
The story opens with your character running from the cops after escaping from a local orphanage in an effort to go out and find your parents. You escape arrest when a local detective says he will take you in. A few months pass and you are now working as his assistant. You are called to investigate the death of a local high school girl. As the investigation continues, you find that her death may connect to a girl’s disappearance from 15 years ago. It may or may not also tie into a local legend of the “girl in back” a spirit who has been seen lurking around the high school. And that ladies and gentlemen, is all I’m going to say about the plot.
Straight out, this is much more a visual novel than a game. So if you don’t like the sound of spending 95% of a game reading dialogue, stay away. For those of you like me who occasionally love themselves a great visual novel, then you my friends are in for a treat. The story in this game is great. It sets-up an intriguing mystery and actually pays it off well. The twists are often surprising, though occasionally predictable, and the game moves along at a good clip, ending each chapter with a cliffhanger that will make you want to keep playing.
The game’s setup reminds me of titles such as Deja Vu on the NES. You have a window on the left where you view the environments from your character’s POV. On the right you have a list of actions you can perform, such as Speak To, Check, Show, Think, etc. You are free to travel to various locations although there are usually only three or four available to you at any given time. You also have an inventory but it too is quite limited. I very rarely got stuck during the game. It’s usually very obvious what the next course of action is, and if you’re unsure you can simply click through each option until things move forward. As I’ve said, there is very little actual game play to speak aside from moving from spot to spot and conversing with the characters.
My biggest issue with many crime themed games is that you the player will often figure shit out hours ahead of anyone in the game. So then you have to spend a good chunk of time watching the characters stumble about to piece together information well after you have already come to the obvious conclusion yourself. “Hmmm, there were red footprints at the crime scene, and this man’s shoes have red paint on the soles. What do you suppose this means?” Ahhhhh come on! You may occasionally get that here, but usually the characters catch up quickly, which is a huge relief.
Graphically there honestly isn’t a whole lot to say. There aren’t that many environments in the game and each one is only a still background image, though each one is full of detail. The characters look fine and are each distinctive from one another but aside from the movement of their mouth and changing facial expressions, there is little that is actually animated. They never physically move around (when they leave the scene they simply disappear from view) and even the story sequences are represented by a series of still images with only the same mouth movements. But again, visual novel, so the graphics serve their purpose.
One area I can definitely highlight though is the soundtrack. This game has wall to wall fantastic music. There may not be that many tracks, but each one of them is memorable. They do a terrific job of setting the overall mode and several were caught in my head for days after finishing the game. Jump on Youtube and check these tracks, definitely worth your attention.
The game should take you about 6 or 7 hours overall. There’s little to no alternate paths to take through the story really so any subsequent playthroughs will unfold in the same manner. If you’re not someone who goes back to read a book a second time, then one playthrough of this will likely be enough. Myself, I enjoyed it enough that I could easily see myself going back to it in a couple years to experience it again.
After playing Famicom Detective Club Part II, I honestly couldn’t believe I hadn’t gotten to this game until now. It’s exactly the kind of thing I love so I had to get out there and tell people. Check this one out everybody!