Remasters usually require a great amount of nostalgia in order to succeed, especially when the games are rereleased over 30 years later. As someone who was born over 10 years after the original release of Famicom Detective Club, I had no attachments to the original games. Despite this, the stories behind these games made for an entertaining experience, one that still holds up today for first time players. Both The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind stand the test of time, keeping you second guessing throughout the playthrough experience. Only a few of my predictions reigned true, and I was shocked by the constant twists and turns that unfolded throughout both stories.
There is a clear reason why these games have been rereleased on numerous Nintendo platforms following their original release. Even though this version completely redesigned the visuals, the story itself remains unpredictable and engaging. The inclusion of voice acting and new music helps build upon this specific game experience. Musical cues push the story forward and also add an extra layer of suspense to the game itself. Playing this game mostly at night made for an eerie experience, and I found myself becoming heavily invested in solving the mysteries within each game.
It could easily be argued that The Missing Heir is the Knives Out of videogames. The game quite literally drops you into the story with little to no information, after you wake up at the bottom of a cliff. It is clear that you have fallen and you have no memory of the event or anything that has occurred in your past. This experience of amnesia is coupled with the realization that you are at the head of a dark and difficult investigation into the Ayashiro family after the death of Kiku Ayashiro.
This game in particular stood out to me, as the story and the characters are what truly make this game. While this visual novel style is not for everyone, it is worth playing for the story alone. The small discoveries made from conversation to conversation make the game feel even more rewarding, allowing for the mystery to slowly unravel itself right before your eyes. The individuals you talk to all have varying relationships with one another, often highlighted by an overarching feeling of guilt or anger. The complicated history of the Ayashiro family makes for a detailed and interesting investigation.
The Girl Who Stands Behind is similar in style to the original game, but the story takes a darker and more fantastical route. The game is set two years before The Missing Heir takes place, where you begin your time at Utsugi Detective Agency with an investigation into the death of Yoko Kojima. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that another case may be linked to Yoko’s death, and you spend your time investigating Ushimitsu High School and those around it.
The Girl Who Stands Behind focuses on the player’s need to process their own thoughts, making the investigation itself a more honest experience. After all, you are the one investigating these murders, so you should be continuously processing your thoughts and what you know so far. Your character is more active within this story itself, and this results in more surprising scenarios and interactions.
If a majority of a videogame’s experience is going to rely specifically on the story, then it better be an engaging one. While there were times where the story was slow, the conversations required you to listen and think actively in order to carry the story forward and come across new discoveries. You truly have to channel your inner detective, and each game rewards you for doing so. While The Missing Heir gives you a diverse set of characters with detailed history, The Girl Who Stands Behind explores more visually and provides a more action packed and personalized experience.
The murder mystery experience that unfolds throughout the Famicom Detective Club games is a strong reminder of the importance of a well-written and nuanced story. Remasters can easily hold up when based on beloved characters or franchises. To have a 30-year-old visual novel presented to an entirely new generation and be well received by new players is a testament to the game’s storyline.
The Famicom Detective Club games were developed and published by Nintendo. They’re available for the Switch.
Katherine Long is an intern at Paste.