If you’ve ever loved a visual novel game, you owe it to yourself to play Famicom Detective Club

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The Nintendo Switch remake of these historically significant visual novels is well worth your time.


What’s the first visual novel game you really fell in love with? For some, it could be the Snatcher or the Konami Policenauts. Many in the West have embarked on the genre with the Nintendo DS thanks to games like Ace Attorney, Hotel Dusk or Professor Layton. Regardless of your experience in the adventure game, you’ll likely be able to see some of its lineage in Famicom Detective Club, which was recently released in a Nintendo Switch remake.

The original Famicom Detective Club games came out on Famicom, aka the NES, in the late 1980s. These games, which see the protagonist investigating mysterious deaths and serial murders, were in many ways among the early novels. visuals that really resemble the games that are still released today. Famicom Detective Club was not the first, but it brings together a number of elements in its presentation and game that would ultimately become staples of the genre.

Westerners wouldn’t know, however, as the games remained, as one might expect, a reserved affair in Japan, even in recent years when they were remade or re-released for SNES, GBA, and Wii. , Wii U and 3DS. Virtual consoles.

Some thirty years later, non-Japanese speakers can finally experience these games natively thanks to the new Nintendo Switch remakes of the two NES titles – the original game The Missing Heir and its prequel, The Girl Who Stands Behind.

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about these games beyond just making it clear that if you have any kind of affinity for the visual novel genre, you should definitely play these titles.

This new remake pack is a lovingly crafted affair, making the obvious like replacing graphics and music, but also adding fully voiced Japanese dialogue. For the English version, there are sharp, high-quality translations that convey the tone and spirit of the original well, and it’s just… well, kinda lovely. Or as beautiful and airy as a story of teenagers investigating gruesome murders can be, anyway.

If you’re less familiar with the genre, most of what you do is just explore. Conversation is the key pillar, where to find your next clue, you could go back and forth between several potential witnesses, able to converse with each on a variety of topics. Sometimes you’ll be on the hunt for pixels, browsing a beautiful hand-drawn depiction of an area for details that will trigger a narrative eureka moment. Naturally, a lot of the onus is on you to connect the dots and figure out what the game is alluding to at any given time – although that does give you a useful boost here and there.

These are obviously games that are over three decades old; and in some ways they show it. They’re undoubtedly simpler than their modern counterparts in some ways – but the only advantage of this genre is that it’s kept so simple it’s still a sublime pleasure to live all that time on them. Perhaps the most obvious sticking point that shows the age of these titles is their difficulty, where sometimes an obtuse clue or a multitude of options can serve to confuse and frustrate. In general, however, they are a pleasure to play.

Sitting down with a visual novel is in many ways the equivalent of a video game relaxing with a really good book, and while elements of a book’s prose can eventually become stale, the overall experience is apparently unassailable by time. For visual novels, things like visuals and music age the experience, but this update modernizes those elements nicely, allowing you to focus on a pair of enjoyable and compelling stories.

You can’t get into that massive replay value, of course – these are linear and largely immutable mysteries that, once unveiled, can never be experienced the same again. But the value is there in the form of two sets in one package, each somewhere just under ten hours each under normal conditions. I would also say that there is also huge value in the historical significance that Western gamers can finally enjoy these games for the first time.

The Switch is also the perfect place for them – as this book’s analogy suggests, these games are more comfortable if you unmoor, snuggle up on the couch, and play Famicom Detective Club like it’s s. was a pocket thriller.

These are exactly the kind of titles Nintendo would never have thought of locating, and I’m glad these remakes got such attention this time around. Like I said, if you’ve ever loved a visual novel, you should consider trying this double pack.

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