Despite Nintendo’s carefully cultivated family image, the company has produced its share of mature games over the years, from the dark and atmospheric Metroid series to the risque Bayonetta 3, a pair of obscure detective games from the early years of Nintendo. company that are perfect for Halloween.
Originally released in the late 80s for the Famicom Disk System, a disk drive peripheral for the company’s first home console that was never released outside of Japan, the Famicom Detective Club series spans two games: The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind, both of which have been lavishly remade for the Nintendo Switch. (A third installment in the series was also released for the short-lived Super Famicom accessory Satellaview, but it remains unlocalized.)
Written by, which would become a household name among gaming fans for its work on the aforementioned Metroid series, the Famicom Detective Club duology is an early example of the visual novel genre: a type of interactive story driven primarily by the choices you make. Delving into much darker subject matter than other Nintendo games, both Famicom Detective Club titles put you in the shoes of a rookie detective tasked with unraveling a series of mysterious murders.
While each game weaves a gripping story full of suspense and intrigue, The Girl Who Stands Behind is particularly thrilling with its faster pace and haunting, otherworldly atmosphere. After a high school student’s body is discovered in a river, you head to the school to investigate his murder, chatting with faculty and other students to gather clues that may help solve the case.
As it happens, you quickly learn that the murdered student was herself investigating the unsolved disappearance of a girl named Shinobu Asakawa, a former student of the school who disappeared 15 years prior. Without spoiling the plot much further, both incidents also tie into the legend of “the girl who stands behind”, an urban myth about a blood-soaked girl who appears behind students.
Although it was written over 30 years ago, The Girl Who Stands Behind is an engrossing – and often chilling – adventure brought to life by the modernized presentation of the Switch version. He and The Missing Heir have been beautifully remade for Nintendo’s current system, with exquisite visuals and extensive (Japanese) voice work that adds an even greater sense of immersion.
That said, not every aspect of the games has aged gracefully. Compared to modern visual novels, Famicom Detective Club titles can feel stiff and sometimes obtuse; there are instances where you won’t know how to proceed and end up resorting to selecting each option from the command menu until one inevitably triggers the next conversation.
These flaws, however, are easy enough to overlook in light of the games’ many lingering strengths. The Famicom Detective Club games are more than just curiosities from Nintendo’s past; they are truly absorbing visual novels that pack a lot of thrills, making them the perfect way to spend a Halloween night.