Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Play It Again

Please Set Disk Card
(Famicom Disk System boot-up screen)


You wake up in a room to find you have lost your memory. Next to you lies a small pocket-sized book. On the cover are a young man and a girl, with a backdrop featuring a great mansion, gravestones and what appears to be the horrifying image of a ghostly samurai warrior. You look at the title. Famicom Tantei Club - Kieta Koukeisha. While you have no memory of who you are and what happened to you, you do know you can read Japanese and, you interpret the title as Famicom Detective Club - The Missing Heir. The title sounds familiar. Perhaps this book has something to do with your past. The cover also notes this book is part of the Famicom Adventure Game Book series. Flipping the book open, you find out it was written by Ikeda Misa and published in 1988. The introduction explains that this is no normal novel, but a game book, where the reader can choose their own destiny. You are shocked to find out that your own situation mirrors that of the book: a young detective lost his memory after a nasty fall of a seaside cliff, and the only clue he has is that he was investigating the suspicious death of Ayashiro Kiku, head of the Ayashiro clan, in the small village of Myoujin. All of Kiku's relatives appear to have a motive for killing her, but then more murders happen, and the villagers think that Kiku has risen from her grave to avenge her death. As you read on, you become convinced this book will serve as a clue to regain your memories.
Go to 1.


You are convinced this book will be the key to retrieving your memories. But in what way? What should you do next? (You can't choose the same option twice).
Find out more about Famicom Tantei Club ⇒ Go to 2.
Find out more about gamebooks ⇒ Go to 3.
Read the book ⇒ Go to 4.
Quit investigation ⇒ Go to 5.

You decide to first find out more about Famicom Tantei Club. Luckily, you come across a lengthy review on some random blog on Japanese mystery fiction. Apparently, Famicom Tantei Club was a mystery adventure game series developed and published by Nintendo. While Nintendo hasn't touched this series for twenty years now, it still has some cult status as one of the creepiest games Nintendo has made in the past. In all three games, the young detective protagonists has to solve a murder case related to local legends and ghost stories. The book you know hold in your hands is an adaptation of the first game in the series, which was also published in 1988 with the exact same title. The story of the game, featuring serial murders among a wealthy family living in a secluded village and legends of the dead reviving is obviously inspired by Yokomizo Seishi: in fact, Sakamoto Yoshio (co-creator of acclaimed game series Metroid), who wrote and designed the original game, had little experience with mystery novels and had only read some by Yokomizo, which is why the atmosphere of the game feels so familiar. The gamebook adaptation of the story is largely similar to the game, but there are still some changes that will certainly surprise people who have played the original.
Add (F) to your inventory.
Learn more about the book ⇒ Go to 1.
Quit investigation ⇒ Go to 5.


A gamebook, also known as a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, is a type of fiction where the reader can participate in the story themselves by making choices. The choices you make lead to different narrative branches, all with varying outcomes. Some gamebooks also feature extended systems, like inventory mechanics or luck mechanics with dices. Sound/visual novel games, such as Kamaitachi no Yoru and Machi are in fact nothing more but (highly complex) gamebooks brought in digital form (which seperates them from adventure games like Ace Attorney). Gamebooks were especially popular in Japan in the 1980s, with many gamebooks being published based on Famicom (NES) games. The book you are holding now was also published during the gamebook boom. In this book, you are given choices like where to go next, or what to ask to whom. As you progress, you collect clues and red herrings (which you add to your inventory as alphabet letters), which allow you to eventually solve the case.
Add (G) to your inventory.
Learn more about the book ⇒ Go to 1.
Quit investigation ⇒ Go to 5.


You realize that this book is quite unique, as it's a detective gamebook, whereas most gamebooks are in the fantasy genre. The story in this book is basically the same as the original game (though it does have some surprising changes), but adds in more narrative branches and game over scenarios, some of them quite original and almost hilarious (there is no game over in the original game). A gamebook is a distinctly different experience from a normal novel: here you are forced to make a choice every couple of paragraphs (or even sentences). As such, it's definitely more interactive than a normal book, as you keep flipping back and forth through the book as you keep notes of your clue inventory. In detective stories with a Challenge to the Reader, the reader is often asked to present their own chain of logic to prove who the murderer is. In regards of having to deduce something, this gamebook is very simply. In fact, most of the time, the protagonist will make the connections himself and at set times, the book will also help organize all the hints you've collected until then. What does make this gamebook difficult, and interesting as a detective gamebook, is that you do need to collect all the necessary clues yourself. Forgetting to ask someone something crucial, or accidently going to the village instead of to the doctor's might mean you'll miss out on an important clue. Some clues are vital to proceed in the game, and without them you're forced into a game over scenario. There are also red herrings, which can also prevent you from getting to the end of the story, as simple possession of them already means you're fooled by them. In a Challenge to the Reader-type of story, the story presents you with all the clues, and then asks you to deduce the truth yourself. In this gamebook, you'll have to find the correct clues yourself, but then the story will deduce the truth for you. It's a very different type of experience, but quite unique and a neat way to apply the gamebook mechanism on a detective story. This book is really difficult by the way. Even people who have played the original game will sometimes get tripped up by fake clues and there's very little leeway for mistakes on your way to the end.
Add (C) to your inventory.
Learn more about the book ⇒ Go to 1.
Quit investigation ⇒ Go to 5.


It might be time to wrap up your investigation of this book. As you examined it, you could faintly feel your memory returning.
Inventory check.
Do you have (F), (G), (C) and (X) in your inventory? ⇒ Go to 6.
If not ⇒ Go to 7.


It is impossible to have X in your inventory. You cheat! As you do not take your investigations seriously, you are unable to retrieve your memories.


Do you want to want to put the book away?
Yes ⇒ Go to Epilogue.
No ⇒ Go to 1.


You suddenly remember everything. You were so captivated by Famicom Tantei Club - Kieta Koukeisha that you were walking around reading it, and you slipped on the rug in the living room, hitting your head, causing temporary amnesia. Even though you already knew the original game (or perhaps because), you really enjoyed this gamebook, as it was a surprisingly good example of how to do a mystery story in the form of a gamebook. You are now convinced of its possibilities and hope to find more of these.


Original Japanese title(s): 池田美佐 『ファミコン探偵倶楽部 消えた後継者』

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