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    Jan 14th, 2008 at 02:39:57     -    Famicom Tantei Club 2 (SNES)

    “Famicom Tantei Club 2” for the Super Famicom

    Summary

    Famicom Tantei Club is Japanese for Nintendo Detective Club; ergo, the subject matter of the game is basically a murder mystery where the player takes the role of a 16-year old orphan who investigates the grisly murder of a sophomore schoolgirl. The genre is essentially a point-and-click, where the gameplay style is based on a 2-D background with a considerable amount of text. The game is heavily story-based, as there is no real action to absorb the players. It is the player’s goal to navigate through the story through a series of character interactions. Conversations driven by questioning witnesses and suspects are the only way that the player can progress through the story; only when the right series of questions and answers is selected, a reaction is elicited and the plot continues. The game is structured into chapters, with a section at the end of each chapter to review the previous events. And now, the talent portion…

    Gameplay

    In practice, the game works quite fluidly. The menu is very straightforward, which is incredibly important in a point-and-click game. The token is a 16-year old runaway, searching for his parents while encountering a friendly adult detective. The game gives you choices from which you select questions to ask. When the correct answer is given, you know to drive the conversation in a certain direction. On paper, this may sound good, but in practice it is much clunkier. The conversations are not very straightforward, considering that you must select the same topic several times to get a full response. Sometimes it takes an extraordinary stretch of logic to arrive at the next response, forcing the player to randomly click through every single question. The story itself is exceptional; it is a keen murder mystery with twists and turns at the right places, with great pacing. The characters are multi-dimensional and forces the token to look at the situations in a broader scope. Another neat addition is the concept of the “review”, in which the token recaps all the events that have elapsed in the finished chapter. When you save and restart the game, the review is presented in a dramatic black and white noir-style cutscene, reminiscent of many murder mystery movies. The only real problem with the game is the somewhat non-intuitive gameplay. Otherwise, it is an excellent play for those who enjoy a taut and edgy thriller.

    Design

    The menu is composed of several functions, such as "ask, examine, move, and think". Each of these functions plays an important part in finding out clues and drawing conclusions on the various motivations of the characters. The "think" function in particular is a very useful tool; think of it as a deus ex machina for helping the player realize what he has to do next. The "examine" function is essentially a mouse cursor in the shape of a hand, navigated with a directional pad. The use of a directional pad as a cursor makes movement imprecise and difficult, but I assume this was the extent of hardware at the time. The cursor is used to click on particular items of the screen for analysis, but more often than not will your efforts be fruitless. I reassert that the game is very unintuitive and will force the player to do a lot of random clicking before anything actually happens.

    This menu is overlayed on the numerous backdrops that the player can move between. For example, the school is the scene of many events and characters; different character models will pop up all over the school and can be interacted with. The backdrops and characters are prerendered 2-D pictures drawn in an anime style influence. The whole game plays like an anime mystery series, with a considerably larger amount of dialogue. I feel the art does a good job of connecting the story with the player, making it seem believable enough as a show, while preventing it from becoming too cartoony so that it would detract from the experience. The facial expressions are very important in setting the mood, which is done quite well for its effort.

    The characters embody a lot of personality, such as the token, a young private investigator who inspires fear in those who try to hide the truth. He is accompanied by a sophomore high school girl Ayumi, who was the best friend to the murder victim, racked by guilt for being unable to prevent the murder, which motivates her to conduct a parallel investigation with yours. The murder victim herself is quite a mysterious character; Yoko Kojima, a junior detective who somehow solved the crime that the token is forced to, except she was killed as a result of the findings. These vibrant characters all contribute to the creation of a well-rounded and interesting story.

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Jan 17th, 2008 at 03:50:54.

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