Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir & The Girl Who Stands Behind | Preview

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir & The Girl Who Stands Behind | Preview

Famicom Detective Club

When it comes to Visual Novel, there is always a bit of an exclusive niche flavor that the general public can hardly find a response to. And it's not a wrong feeling: often these are products that, by their very nature, are not even seen as video games except as interactive books with beautiful images and in the style of Japanese anime. However, at Nintendo, there was someone who brought the novels into mainstream territory thanks to investigation and a more than engaging story: Ace Attorney. Everyone loves Phoenix Wright and it is thanks to him that many people have approached a genre where they take on the role of an investigator intent on solving cases by simply clicking on the screen or talking to people.

Going back over the years, however, to be precise 30 years ago, Nintendo had already experimented with that approach by publishing Famicom Detective Club: a duology of games written by Yoshio Sakamoto (his first writing experiment even before the success of Metroid and even inspired a Profondo Rosso by Dario Argento) in which the player was called to play the role of a young detective in some cases in the heart of rural Japan. The couple of titles that started Famicom Detective Club consists of The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind, released on the platform of the same name and never made it to the West for all this time… until today.

With an unexpected move during one of the recent Nintendo Direct, Nintendo not only announced the arrival of the two games in the West, but even in a completely redone and edited by Mages, which someone will remember for numerous visual novels successful including Steins; Gate. The day when we will be able to talk about it in more detail is still far away, considering that the official release date is May 14, 2021 on Nintendo Switch, however we can share with you the first impressions of the two games and how the impact with historical titles is. for the Japanese history of videogame storytelling.

Two iconic cases to solve

The pack of Famicom Detective Club advertised by Nintendo includes both titles of the original duology (although there is a third chapter) and therefore presented with their entire history exactly as it was in the old days. For us it is impossible to make a direct comparison as we have never had access to such games, and indeed the writer was not even born at the time, however, for the setting and type of plots chosen for the investigative events, it can be easily seen the desire to use themes dear to Japanese tradition: mystery, schools, rural villages and horror as a supporting element.

Sakamoto himself praised Argento's technique in being able to blend images and music to show what should frighten the viewer in a constant flow throughout the adventure and Famicom Detective Club does so through the use of particular images and a soundtrack (at the time in Lavandonia style Bit and here anyway present if you choose to use it instead of the re-orchestrated) disturbing present in many moments.

Both titles are stories of murders that have a background linked to supernatural elements: in Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir is a curse and in Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind the legend of a ghost that haunts a school like many others. Recurring themes in the path that separates us from 1988, and in a certain sense The Girl Who Stands Behind is one of the precursors of the horror genre set in schools and in their disturbing "rumors", translated into reused formulas such as "The 7 legends of ' academy". A classicism that Famicom Detective Club not only embraces for its nature as a gem set in an era of the past, but which still demonstrates its narrative strength today thanks to two branched cases capable of capturing the player in such a well-crafted context. to be almost real. The urban context, the legends, the police investigations and the relationships with all the characters involved in the case, from the policeman in charge of the bodyguard to the passing students, create a harmony so well realized that the first few minutes of settling down are enough to breathe it. to full lungs.

Clearly between the two The Girl Who Stands Behind is perhaps the most horror one considering the plot linked to the school ghost, while The Missing Heir is a story that embraces a wider community of the institute school and makes you fall into what is the social situation of a small community linked to traditions and power games hidden among the smiles of the locals. This is possible only thanks to the original choice of putting yourself in the first person in the investigation, deciding when to talk to someone, what issues to question them, how to inspect the environment and when to reflect. Coming from the Famicom, these are very simple functions that correspond to more or less long or repeated dialogues, which "breaks" that aura of realism a bit when you get bogged down and hear the same lines repeated several times. However, also thanks to the great dubbing work done just for the remakes, the involvement with the events is skyrocketing and their credibility increases the mystery machine behind the two Famicom Detective Clubs.

The titles in fact, from what we have tried, they have a great investigative weave and take the right foot in providing the player with only a few pieces of the puzzle at a time, going to build a clearer image only after a few important steps. Of course, these are adventures in any case guided in a specific direction, however their exposure and control of actions allows you to be able to reason freely without feeling forced to a specific conclusion or a suspect more highlighted than the others. But how much and how this will be worked out in the final game is still one of the mysteries of the two investigations.

Like a show

Under the sunlight, however, there is the higher quality of the restoration of Famicom Detective Club: a graphics engine that transforms the visual novel into an anime that comes to life thanks to live 2D technology. Every scene, animation or character - even the background elements - moves in such a fluid way that it has surprised us more than once. You can forget the still shots and the scenes interspersed with static frames: here everything moves as if it were an episode of a TV show. The quality of this approach, specifically, is denoted by Mages' desire to make every scene a moment in which to show it off, thus avoiding that the most beautiful tricks from a graphic point of view are exclusive to the highlight scenes. A minor dialogue or the journey to a part of the city, apparently unimportant for the plot, takes on the same connotations as the best moments, thus avoiding breaking this particular technical spell which is undoubtedly one of the most pioneering experiments of today. panorama.

In particular, the restoration of Famicom Detective Club is its point in favor precisely for those who do not like visual novels for their book-like feeling. Of course, there will still be a lot of dialogue and the absence of the Italian language can be a flaw if you consider the verbosity of the game, but the way the action is shown on the screen you never have the feeling of standing there talking. with someone. From one moment to the next a character can arrive to give us new developments, someone can give us a nod, a detail can light up in the background or passers-by find themselves walking behind our interlocutor by pure chance: there is no distinction between the moment of dialogue , that of the investigation or the cutscene, everything is part of a flow and that flow allows the player not to feel like a mere spectator among the thousand lines of text.

In short, our first contact with Famicom Detective Club it is of a glaring positivity. Not only are we talking about stories written by a pen of Yoshio Sakamoto's caliber, but also an exceptionally modern work by Mages that literally opens the way to a future of much more interactive and perfectly playable visual novels both in portability and on TV. Like a good book, which keeps us company on public transport journeys, the mysteries of The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind can accompany us in their best form at all times, enclosing in their fluid animations a respectable dubbing and a story capable of combining the best of writing, aesthetics and sound. Just like one of Dario Argento's best movies.

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir & The Girl Who Stands Behind will be released digitally on May 14, 2021 on Nintendo eShop.

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