Famicom Detective Club Review
Investigate murders as you experience two great stories.
In the late 1980s, Nintendo released two “Famicom Detective Club” games in Japan, which were never officially released outside of that country. Now, the games have been remade and updated for the Nintendo Switch, with Japanese voice acting and full English subtitles and menus.
Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind are now available to purchase individually and in a bundle on Switch. We had the chance to check them out.
What are these games?
The Famicom Detective Club games are murder-mystery visual novels that allow players to take on the role of a teenage detective (you get to name him), who must solve two murder cases.
In Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir, you begin the game with amnesia, and you’ll need to investigate a series of murders while also trying to figure out who you are and what you’ve forgotten.
Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind is a prequel that takes place two years before The Missing Heir. It asks you to investigate the murder of a student and the mystery surrounding a Japanese high school.
While both games feature standalone murder cases to solve, we recommend playing The Missing Heir first, since details are revealed near the end of the game that are referenced early on in The Girl Who Stands Behind, and the twists in The Missing Heir may not have as much impact on your experience if you play the games in the other order.
How do you play these games?
The Famicom Detective Club games are linear, story-driven experiences that focus heavily on interviewing witnesses and other people related to each location and crime. You’ll also be able to investigate your surroundings, and even the bodies of victims to find clues (we’ll talk about the games’ mature content in a bit).
During each conversation, you can use simple controls and a menu on the left side of the screen to choose the topics you want to talk about with each person. For instance, one of the topics may be “Alibi,” and if you select this option, your character will ask the other person where they were when the crime took place.
The topics you can choose from will automatically update and change as you uncover clues or speak to different people, but it’s in your best interest to ask everyone about every topic you have available to make sure you don’t miss any important details.
As you pick up evidence and other important items, you may be able to show these items to other characters to see how they react. You can also “examine” your surroundings and even other people in order to find important objects or have your character comment on their behavior or appearance.
While both games will sometimes lock you into a particular location until you uncover the detail(s) you need to move on, at other times, you can freely travel between a handful of locations to talk to different people. You may need to talk to the right people in the right order to uncover the details you need to proceed.
Finally, you have access to a “Remember” action in The Missing Heir and a “Think” option in The Girl Who Stands Behind. Choosing these options may sometimes push the story forward, depending on the circumstances.
Since these games are linear experiences, they’re designed to have you uncover clues and evidence in a specific order. This means you may need to talk to someone about the same topic multiple times to receive all of the information they can provide, or you may need to choose topics in a particular order to get someone to tell you everything they know. When you uncover especially important details and clues, the associated topics and locations will turn yellow in the game’s menu, indicating that you should choose these options next. Important details will also be added to your in-game notebook for easy reference later on.
There were times in both games when we were left feeling stuck, and weren’t sure what to do next to push the story forward. That is, we weren’t sure where we needed to travel or which question to ask which person to proceed. Thankfully, when this happens, you’ll eventually be able to “stumble into” the correct action by simply choosing every topic or action you have available, even if this means having repeat conversations in order to see if you’ve missed something. Or, if you don’t want the repetition, you can always check an online guide for a nudge in the right direction.
Lastly, there are a few instances where you’re asked to answer questions pertaining to each case. These questions will test whether or not you’ve been paying attention to all of the details, and whether you’ve deduced what’s currently going on in each case.
Are these games ok for kids?
The Famicom Detective Club games are rated T for Teen by the ESRB, meaning they’ve been deemed inappropriate for players under the age of 13. While they’re not as violent as Mature-rated titles, they do focus on mature topics, like murder and suicide.
In addition, the games occasionally feature mature imagery, like static images of dead bodies that you’ll need to examine in order to proceed. For instance, at one point in The Missing Heir, you need to examine the body of a victim with a knife sticking out of their chest. This isn’t the only scene that can be considered gruesome or disturbing across both games, but we’ll refrain from saying more to avoid spoiling the plots of each game. Feel free to contact us here at SuperParent if you want more details.
For now, suffice it to say that younger players (or those who may be offended by this kind of imagery), probably shouldn’t play these games.
Aside from the violent imagery, some adult language is infrequently used in the dialog in The Missing Heir, and a sign for a “Sexy Shop” adult club can be seen in The Girl Who Stands Behind.
Finally, there’s no English voice-acting, so players need to be comfortable reading lots of text.
Are these games fun to play? What’s the verdict?
We really enjoyed both games in the Famicom Detective Club series. Their stories are super interesting and suspenseful, and there are plenty of twists that we admit we never saw coming. Progressing through some conversations can feel pretty clunky if you can’t figure out which topic or action to take next, but -- if you’re like us -- the stories are so compelling that you’ll be willing to push through the temporary roadblock to see what happens next.
The Famicom Detective Club games aren’t appropriate for children, and they may not even be appropriate for young teens. But if you or your older teens are into murder-mystery novels, we definitely recommend checking these games out.
Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind are now available on Switch for $34.99 each, or in a bundle for $59.99. If you decide to buy only one game at first, you can receive a $10 discount off of the second game at a later time, so long as both games are purchased using the same account on the Nintendo eShop.
The Famicom Detective Club games are rated T for Teen by the ESRB.
Disclosure: SuperParent received codes for these games for coverage purposes.