Sunday, November 8, 2009



"Even if you don't believe yourself, I believe in you."

"The Case Files of Young Kindaichi: Chief Inspector Kenmochi's Murder"

Writing on detectivey-stuff is not going really well lately, mostly because I hardly read here. It at least is not a problem of not having enough material, because shelving problems are slowly appearing. I had started writing about how Japanese detectives are often like mini travel guides, as if they are not set in Tokyo or Osaka, they are often set at touristic spots all across Japan. Which was mainly inspired by a Wednesday TV drama I am watching, Meitantei Asami Mitsuhiko: Saishuushou ("Great Detective Asami Mitsuhiko: The Final Chapter") , which is about a journalist traveling all across Japan writing about touristic attractions, solving crimes and basically is an excuse to have every story set in another part of Japan. But then I realized this traveling aspect is also to be found very easily in Western (English) detectives, with the Orient Express and the Nile or just all across England, so it was not that interesting (though apparently the Asami Mitsuhiko series is quite popular here because it's so much like a travel guide with stuff on local legends).

But I digress. I don't do much reading except for homework now. Of course, I am actually required to read Edogawa Rampo stuff, as I have to hand in a book report next month for my research paper here, but even books with titles as The Era of Rampo: Ero Guro Nonsense can't help this reading-slump. Heck, even reading manga is not going as fast as it should.

Games are progressing quite good though. But while I enjoy detectives and games, they seldom work really good together. Case in point: the recently released Nintendo DS game Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo: Akuma no Satsujin Koukai ("The Case Files of Young Kindaichi: The Devil's Killer Voyage"). As releases in the Kindaichi Shounen series are not frequent anyway, I was kinda looking forward to this game, but as soon as I started up this game, I knew it would disappoint me, having played another game by the same developer. Please, developers at Tomcat, senseless clicking on every part of the map in the hopes the story progresses is not fun. Nor is diffusing bombs. Especially your bombs. Didn't you learn with Galileo DS?!

It's a problem I see often in detective games, where developers don't seem to be able to streamline the story. Either the story goes too fast, not allowing the player a chance to think or do anything at all, or the developers don't streamline the story at all and you are left clicking on everything, hoping you find the trigger for the next story event. A detective novel usually flows from one event to another, whether it being new information or the analyzing of information, but somehow, developers never seem able to really translate this to a working game system. And then you have the problem of developers wanting to make a detective game more like a game, so they insert bomb diffusing segments in the game. Which. Suck. Just because I am playing on a DS doesn't mean that you have to insert bad touchscreen gameplay.

Luckily, I had two new Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo volumes to wash away the memories of that game. They may only release two volumes of the manga a year, but it's always something to look forward too. And Pokémon HeartGold has found a great home in my Nintendo DS. After so many years enslaving poor critters is still addicting. And Butterfree, after so many years, you still are my favorite. Till I find a fishing rod to get me a Staryu. To get me a Starmie. 

Original Japanese title(s): 『金田一少年の事件簿 悪魔の殺人航海』