Originally released on the Famicom in 1988, it should surprise many to know that the visual novel genre is something Nintendo had taken part in. In fact, it’s what helped launched the career of writer Yoshio Sakamoto, primarily known for his work on the Metroid games.
Developed by Mages, primarily known for the Steins;Gate games, the games in the Famicom Detective Club (FDC) duology have been localized and released stateside for the first time and even though these are essentially 32-year-old games, they stand the test of time pretty well.
This is a review of The Girl Who Stands Behind, the second of the Famicom Detective Club games, which is actually a prequel to The Missing Heir.
What Is It?
Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind is a visual novel not that much different in play style compared to the Ace Attorney series, so if you’ve played any of the Phoenix Wright games, you’ll be in familiar territory here coming across different and interesting characters as you interrogate them to get closer to the truth in this “whodunnit” game.
While The Girl Who Stands Behind is the second game in the Famicom Detective Club (FDC) series, as stated, it’s actually a prequel to the simultaneously released remake of The Missing Heir. You play as the same protagonist, but you aren’t the hot shot detective you were in the first with amnesia. Instead, you’re a young buck taken in by a detective named Shunsuke Utsugi when he finds you on the run from police. After agreeing to become his apprentice, you end up on your first big case–one that involves a key character in the series.
A girl was found dead on the side of a river in close proximity to a high school going through problems with an urban legend called “The Girl Who Stands Behind.” Turns out the girl is a student there and also resembles the girl from that urban legend. The deceased was also the best friend of Ayumi Tachibana, an assistant with the Utsugi Detective Agency that you’d recognize if you played The Missing Heir — so in a way, this is also sort of Ayumi’s origin story.
Why Should I Care?
The Ace Attorney comparison was made earlier because at first glance, that’s the series Famicom Detective Club in this remade form most closely resembles. From the simplistic hand-drawn backgrounds to the subtle animation and distinct anime art style of all the characters to even the various menus you’ll go through to converse–it’s all very Ace Attorney.
Despite the obvious similarities, both these franchises couldn’t be more different when it comes to the finer details of its gameplay as well as FDC’s more serious tone.
The FDC games are both well written, but they also require you to be fully attentive of every spoken line. If you miss the most minute of details, there’s a chance you’ll get stuck wondering what to do next, and unlike the Ace Attorney series which helps guide you by de-emphasizing options you’ve already chosen that won’t move the story forward, when it comes to FDC’s dialog options, there won’t be anything highlighted or de-emphasized until it’s time to move on, so don’t be surprised if you often find yourself going through the same choices over and over fishing for something that hasn’t been said yet.
Since I had already played through The Missing Heir, I already knew all of this going into The Girl Who Stands Behind. You’ll oftentimes talk to various people who tell you absolutely nothing, and you’ll be praying that sooner or later you see some yellow text indicating that it’s time to move on. I never had nearly as many issues as I did playing this game, and a big part of that was because this game’s story and characters were far more interesting.
In my review of The Missing Heir, I mentioned that pretty much every character in that game hated you. That’s hardly the case in The Girl Who Stands Behind. In fact, almost all the characters have some strange infatuation with you. Throw all that into the fact that there was a lot more humor in this game in addition to exploring more than just the rich family’s household in the last game, and you have a story that was far more easy to follow. There’s even this one student you’ll come across who wears stupid disguises, and the only way to move forward is to take away his wig. It’s charming stuff like this that truly made the gameplay experience more fun.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Like The Missing Heir before it, The Girl Who Stands Behind features an enjoyable and thought-provoking story, but its style of gameplay will take some getting used to whether you’re a connoisseur of visual novels or not. At that, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s still impressive knowing that stories this old can still be this good over 30 years later.
With the amount of enjoyment there is, $35 is a fine price for the game especially since it’s the better of the two FDC games. That said, it’s hard to get one game and not the other–especially when Nintendo is offering you $10 off to buy both games to make the overall package $60. If you insist on only getting one, though, this is definitely the one you want, but I’d still encourage you to wait for a price drop unless you’re buying both.
Also Check Out:
“Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir” Review