Some Thoughts on Famicom Detective Club The Missing Heir

When it was announced that Nintendo would be bringing back a remastered version of Famicom Detective Club, I was intrigued.  I had never heard of these titles, and it makes sense, as they were only released in Japan on the original Famicom console.  I watched the trailer and the explanation of the titles and I knew I had to own these.  Of course, like most titles that I buy at launch, it sat in my backlog until earlier this year, when I finally made the push to play through the first of the two Famicom Detective titles, The Missing Heir.

When you first see Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir, you think it is going to be some kind of adventure title, but it is not.  It is actually a very in-depth visual novel, with some puzzle elements.  However, most of the puzzles come from how you handle dialog and not from actually solving puzzles.  Yes, you have the standard trappings of the visual novel, with a lot of exposition and story, but how you push that forward is all based on how you use your dialog choices.  This idea is both a blessing and a curse.

In most visual novel titles, or even adventure game dialog sections, you will pick a piece of dialog and you are done.  That is not how Famicom Detective Club The Missing Heir handles it.  Instead, you find yourself having to go back to dialog choices multiple times to push the story forward.  This was very frustrating for the first hour or two, as I did not realize that you needed to use the same dialog choices multiple times, and got stuck trying to push the story forward.  Even when you know about needing to use dialog multiple times, it also depends on when you use those choices.  Sometimes you need to go back to a choice after using several other choices to unlock the dialog you need to push the story forward.

Even with this irritation, Famicom Detective Club The Missing Heir overcomes it with a compelling story that takes a ton of twists and turns, keeping you guessing who did it all the way to the end revelation.  It is always nice when you can’t see the end solution coming in a mystery game and you get that here.  I did start to see one of the twists earlier, but the main heavy was a surprise for certain.

As stated Famicom Detective Club The Missing Heir is a remaster of a title that was released way back in 1988, or 1989.  You can tell a lot of love went into recreating each panel of animation, and the added little pieces of animations to characters are very nice additions.  I went and did some research to see the old versions, and while they look dated, you can tell they were probably good for their time, and these current remasters pay a lot of respect to that original version.  Most of the time, remasters can go on the cheap for the graphical upgrade (see the recent GTA or Red Dead Redemption remasters), but here, the graphics look fantastic and are a sure fire upgrade to the original game.

Overall, I think the Famicom Detective Club titles are a great find for those that never got to play them when they first came out.  I still think they are a little overpriced (the Nintendo tax), but if you can find them on sale, or are a real fan of visual novels, you should pick them up.


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