Operation Backlog Completion 2024
May 312024
 

It’s the final day of Celebrating All Things Mysterious 2024 (and your last chance to participate in the contest).

Last year, we closed out the month by talking about Ace Attorney Investigations 2, so why not end the event with Ace Attorney again?

Earlier this year, Capcom finally brought Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, and Spirit of Justice (the 4th, 5th, and 6th mainline games) to modern platforms as the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, which even got a physical release for the Switch in North America. Since Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice were digital-only here before, it’s great to finally have them in physical form.

While I ultimately decided against playing through all three games again, I did spend some time with the Apollo Justice Trilogy nevertheless.

I love that these newer collections include concept art and similar bonuses. Looking through the concept art is always fun, especially when you get to see earlier character designs.

It also includes an extensive soundtrack selection (all the songs from the three games, minus the ones that only play for a few seconds, plus some additional tracks as well), and you can set a song to play in the background while you look through other parts of the gallery.

Then there’s the Animation Studio, which might be the best bonus feature I’ve ever seen.

The Animation Studio lets you pick any background, character, pose/animation, and voice clip (ex. “Objection!”) to create your own scenes. It’s restricted based on game, so no taking a character exclusive to one game and putting them in a background from a different game, but it still has a ton of options. One annoying part is that some poses/animations are exclusive to the courtroom, so if you select that option while on a different background, it automatically changes to the courtroom. I’d have preferred it if courtroom-specific options only showed up on the list while you had a courtroom background set, or if it asked first.

Still, after a bit of fiddling, I managed to make some fun what-if scenes with Blackquill, since he’s one of my favorite prosecutors. I like to think he’s there to see the bird.

and a scene with my least favorite prosecutor, to imagine what could have been (out-of-court encounters with Nahyuta might have done wonders for him).

Playing around with the Animation Studio makes me wish The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles had this feature, because I’d go crazy if I could make my own Great Ace Attorney scenes.

Anyway, another nice feature added to the Apollo Justice Trilogy is that you can not only select which game to play, but even a specific section of a specific case. I revisited some of my favorite moments from the trilogy this way, and it reminded me just how much I love this series.

The Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a fantastic collection of the later three Ace Attorney games, with some really nice bonus features, and a perfect collection to end Celebrating All Things Mysterious 2024 with. So let me know your thoughts on the Apollo Justice Trilogy, and join me in hoping that this is the year a new Ace Attorney game will finally be announced!

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May 272024
 

Last time, we talked about the remake of the first Famicom Detective Club game, The Missing Heir.

Now let’s continue on and talk about the second.

Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind is actually a prequel, and they’re set up so that you can play them in either order. (If you play one, you can carry over the name you used for the protagonist to the other, too.) I went with release order and played The Missing Heir first, but I can see how playing the prequel first might increase the tension at times. It’s up to you.

From the beginning, The Girl Who Stands Behind is the creepier of the two games. While The Missing Heir had slight hints of potentially supernatural occurrences, they’re much stronger in its prequel.

The case begins with the discovery of a murdered high school girl, and it isn’t long before you learn that before her death, she was investigating the school’s urban legend about a ghost that will appear standing behind you. With that as your one lead, you begin digging deeper into the origins of the legend and what the victim might have learned about it.

For the most part, the gameplay is identical to that of the first game. You’ll still be picking commands from the menu, inspecting backgrounds for clues, and running through a list of dialogue options and other actions to figure out how to progress. Progression didn’t feel quite as opaque in this one, although there were still a few times when I was stumped until I found the action I needed to try or re-try to make things happen.

Sadly, there aren’t any parts where you have to type your answer. Instead, there are a couple parts where you’re asked questions and have to choose the correct answer from a list.

The story was interesting, and I loved the creepier tone, although it lacked some of the excitement of The Missing Heir’s story. It also didn’t feel quite as tight, with more loose ends and aspects that should have been explored in more detail, plus the odd choice to add ambiguity right at the very end.

Click for The Girl Who Stands Behind spoilers
The implication at the very end that the girl died from being hit by the car and therefore might have been a ghost after all when she was seen at the window was interesting… but if they wanted to take it in that direction, I think they should have explored the supernatural aspect a bit more thoroughly so it felt earned.

I also feel like we should have learned the connection between Hibino and Urabe during the investigation, instead of just having it told to us at the end.

But while I’d say I enjoyed The Missing Heir more overall, The Girl Who Stands Behind was still a good mystery with a lot of excellent points. If you like one of the Famicom Detective Club remakes, you’ll probably like the other.

Now, when can we have a third Famicom Detective Club game…?

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May 242024
 

I’ve been curious about the Famicom Detective Club Switch remakes ever since they were announced.

Remakes of two visual novel adventure games developed and published by Nintendo back in 1988 and 1989 respectively, they were quite unexpected and also resulted in the games being available in English for the first time.

Sadly, there’s no physical version with English, so you can only get them digitally (and they never go on sale). This year, I decided to finally stop waiting and pick them up. So let’s talk about the first game in the series, Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir.

You play a young man with amnesia who soon learns he’s a private detective and was investigating a suspicious death before the accident that led to his memory loss. And so, without even knowing all the details he should have known, he resumes his investigation into a case that soon spirals into something much larger.

It’s a type of game I generally describe as a visual novel / adventure game hybrid, where you’ll spend a majority of your time reading but have adventure game gameplay as well.

In this case, most of the gameplay is handled through a menu that lets you choose to move between locations, call out to someone, talk (which then brings up a list of available topics to ask about), examine things by inspecting the background or picking key things to look at from a list, and a few other commands that show up depending on the situation. In general, your goal is to question witnesses and look for clues as you progress through the story.

That might sound simple, but it’s not always clear what you need to do to progress. I wouldn’t call it hard, since there’s no fail state, but it often comes down to a tedious process of trying every option and then trying every option again.

For example, you might need to exhaust a character’s dialogue, then look around, then talk to another character and exhaust all of their dialogue, then look at the first character, and then choose one of the dialogue options again to finally get new dialogue.

The “skip read” option makes it a bit less annoying, although it took me a while to figure out how to use it. Not to be confused with the force skip option, you can skip read dialogue only if you’ve both turned it on from the options menu and have the dialogue set to auto-advance. That speeds things up to make those trial-and-error conversations faster to get through, but it still started to wear on me after a while.

On the other hand, there are also a few sections near the end where you have to type in your answer, which I thought was pretty neat! It made sure I was actually paying attention to what was going on and understood the clues.

Now let’s talk about the story. The story is what kept me invested despite the occasional tedium of the gameplay. It’s a murder mystery that gets more complicated as it goes on (with hints of the paranormal as the local villagers insist a curse is responsible), and while at first I was just mildly curious about it, it had my full attention by the end. There were several points where I intended to take a break, only for the chapter cliffhanger to keep me reading through to the next one.

A few parts felt underutilized, without a clear explanation, but the majority of the mystery came together in a satisfactory way in the end. I really enjoyed it, and I’m glad I finally played Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir.

I’ve already moved on to the second game, and – if all goes as planned – we’ll be closing out this mystery month celebration with three mystery reviews next week instead of just one on Friday! Don’t forget, you have until the end of May to leave comments on any Celebrating All Things Mysterious and earn points toward a prize at the end!

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