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BASIC INFO

GAME: Famicom Detective Club: Part II (Famicom Tantei Club Part II: Ushiro ni Tatsu Shōjo)

Platform: Super Famicom (Super Nintendo)

Original Release Date: April 1, 1998 from Nintendo

Regions released in: Japan only

Repro release date: Unknown

Notes: This game is an enhanced remake of a game originally released for the Famicom Disk System in two parts in 1989. As of this date there are no translations or reproductions for the original.

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The mystery begins right away, your Memo pad will fill out quickly

 

THE GAME

High school girl Yoko is dead. Found strangled on the riverbed and you, a new teenage assistant detective to a respected local private eye, are tasked with uncovering the layered mystery that slowly consumed this girl and led to her end. You must navigate social circles, dig up buried secrets and untangle the rumors from truths that Yoko was investigating about the ghostly “girl in back.” She never found her answer. Will you?

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Originally released on the Famicom Disk System, The translated SNES release features improvements to graphics and gameplay.

Famicom Detective Club: Part II is a visual novel style mystery adventure game from Nintendo. The gameplay is very simple, but effective. Investigating and exploration is almost entirely menu based in the same vein of games like Snatcher, it was a style pretty common for Japanese adventure games of the time. The menu based gameplay works well enough for the most part, it’s par for the era. All the options make sense and there aren’t any cheap traps in dialog trees or anything unfair. Still, things can get a little annoying sometimes. There’s no indicator for when a prompt is exhausted or how many times a choice can be re-selected or when. It’s not a big problem, it just slows you down and reveals the age of the game. Like I said, it’s all based around a finite set of menus so a moment or two of trial and error will eventually move you along. The story and characters are wonderfully done. Most of the characters have at least some measure of depth or curiosity that grabs your attention. The plot moves along at a strong pace, always moving forward with no pointless backtracking. Things slow when needed and speed up driving intensity when appropriate. The mystery and characters were good enough to stay with me after I had turned the game off.  Even when I was stuck in game really stalling progress wise I was more concerned with what was unfolding beyond the screen than petty frustrations.  The world you have to explore is never too open and overwhelming or tiny and claustrophobic, it always maintains a good balance for the game and what’s going on. However, there is a con to this range of accessibility. There isn’t any way to skip or speed up text, so if you are trying to be extra thorough going through an area or move back down a long string of dialog things can get a bit cumbersome. The graphics are pretty good, as they should be for a game released so late in the SNES lifespan. All of the characters worth talking to are very expressive. Faces and subtle movements display a wide range of emotion, thought, and temperament. It really pulls you in as a player and is very nice touch considering there’s no voice acting to add an extra layer of character.

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Ayumi’s face changes as she works through her grief. Tazaki’s moods fly all over the emotional spectrum in the game and his face easily betrays his lies

 

Since the main bulk of Famicom Detective Club: Part II is text something must be said about the translation. I love it, it’s great. First, all the characters speak well. Everyone worth your attention has a certain feel to what they say and who they are. It’s important in a title like this for the character to have a specific voice of their own. It makes the game a richer, more immersive experience. On top of this, general text flows very well. I never had to give the screen a double-take to understand a detail or direction. Everything was clear and comprehensive and nothing stuck out as stilted or forced. Any moments that did fall flat or come off corny were clearly part of the original text and/or scene. Overall Famicom Detective Club: Part 2 has a fantastic translation that overs all bases. This isn’t surprising considering that it was put together by Tomato and Demiforce who have done some popular fan translations for games such Mother 3, Star Ocean, and Radical Dreamers.

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There are MOUNTAINS of text in this game and each line is handled well

 

VALUE/QUALITY & OPTIONS

The value of a reproduction copy of Famicom Detective Club: Part 2, or any repro game really, depends on a few things. the quality of the game being produced, the quality and makeup of the physical product itself, and the value the consumer places in having of a physical copy. I think I’ve made it clear this is a quality game in my eyes and I would highly recommend playing it if games like Snatcher, 999, or Phoenix Wright are your thing. If you value a physical copy for collection purposes or just don’t like playing games on a PC (that’s me,) there are options out there. When it comes to the release alone I’m not sure where to recommend buying or the price. I bought a copy from a seller on Etsy that was just a loose cart for $45. For a loose cart and I think that might be a little high, but that’s my opinion. You can find a loose cart cheaper here and a separate packaging set with a box, manual, poster, etc. here. Fishyface Games sells a complete box set with a poster and manual as well.  These are just a few options I found, you can decide what price points sit best with you if you are interested.

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There’s a lot to uncover and some things get pretty dark

 

AVAILABILITY AND ETHICS

Sometimes I find it hard to justify buying and recommending reproduction games on moral or ethical grounds, but that is not the case for me today. Famicom Detective Club was never released outside of Japan. In fact, in japan, the  SNES version was only available for the Super Famicom’s rewritable cartridge service. This makes physical Japanese SNES cartidges rare and expensive wherever they are found. There hasn’t been any new original games in the series since Famicom Detective Club: Part II’s release in 1989 so I don’t think giving your money to someone reproducing it will hurt the games or the big N itself. That being said if this is an issue for you regardless the game is on Wii and Wii U virtual console, so go to town if it helps you sleep at night. As for the translation, Tomato & Demiforce make it clear (in game) that their English ROM is free and should remain free. And I respect that on a software level. Play and share the translated ROM with friends who will enjoy it. Keep this gem up in the air. However, I think that when it comes to a physical release that someone had to put together with physical materials, people are free to spend what and where they want. At that point the issue is more about the product and you money. Consumers should be aware when they look into games like this. On top of that, Tomato and Demiforces translation is so thorough and fantastic, it really adds a new transformative layer to the who package. So regardless of how you play or obtain it, I say Famicom Detective Club: Part II Is a valid worthwhile little adventure.

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I give this repro a pass. Share the Rom, buy the repro. Unless you have a functioning rewritable SuFami cart from 1998 around and access to a ROM writing kiosk, A Japanese Wii U and a thorough understanding of the language.