Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cold Reading

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


Takada Naoya is the young assistant of private detective Utsugi Shunsuke, a man so trusted by the authorities he's called in when the lifeless body of 17-year old Youko is recovered from a river. Naoya discovers that Youko has been strangled before she was thrown in the water, thus making it a case of murder. Because Utsugi is busy with a different case, young Naoya is put on this case, which brings him to Youko's high school. There he meets Youko's friend Ayumi, who tells Naoya that Youko, as a member of the school's Detective Club, had been investigating the school ghost story of "The Girl Standing In The Back": a ghostly figure said to haunt the school by manifesting herself behind people's backs. Naoya suspects Youko's death might be connected to this ghost story, which finds its roots in the disappearance of a student of the school 15 years ago. Whether his investigation in Ikeda Misa's Famicom Tantei Club Part II - Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo ("Famicom Detective Club Part II: The Girl Who Stands Behind", 1989) is succesful, is completely up to the reader's choices.
Go to 1.


As you read the text on the back of the book, you realize that this is a gamebook. The name Famicom Detective Club and Ikeda Misa sound familiar too. You know remember that you already read a review of the gamebook based on the first game on this series a while back. Where do you want to start your investigation?
Read up on gamebooks and Famicom Detective Club ⇒ Go to 2.
Read Famicom Tantei Club Part II - Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo ⇒ Go to 3.
If you have read everything ⇒ Go to 4.


You remember that Famicom Detective Club was once a mystery adventure game series by Nintendo. Some might be surprised that this Nintendo series was about murder cases that were steeped in legends, ghost stories and other supernatural backgrounds, but the Famicom Detective Club games used to be a fairly well-known series among adventure gamers, though Nintendo hasn't touched the franchise in decades save for ports of the old games. The first two games date from the late eighties, which was also when gamebooks were popular in Japan. The gamebook Famicom Tantei Club Part II - Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo is based on the game with the same title, which was originally released in 1989 on the Famicom Disk System (NES) as the second entry in the series. An enhanced (and fantastic!) remake of this game was also released on the Super Famicom (SNES).

Gamebooks, or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, have the reader make choices as they read, which lead to branching storylines. Whereas in a normal novel, the protagonist is destined to take the left turn in the maze, in a gamebook, the reader might given the choice to go left, right or back, each choice leading to a seperate outcome (in a gamebook, each choice will lead you to a different page). Many of the choices will eventually lead to a bad ending, and only the true detective can make it to the end of the case. Famicom Tantei Club Part II - Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo has some extra mechanics besides making choices: you also need to collect necessary clues and useful items as you fight against time, because movement between locations, but also fruitless lines of investigation all cost time, and you only have a limited amount of time units.
Go To 1.


Famicom Tantei Club Part II - Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo is set some time before the first book and details how the protagonist and Ayumi, his later colleague at the Utsugi Detective Agency, first met. The story in the gamebook is a more streamlined version of the one featured in the game, with fewer characters and some changes in how the story develops, but is at the core the same. People who have played the original game might be surprised by the changes that do exist though: some of them I had never expected, but I quite liked them in this version of the story. As a detective story, Famicom Tantei Club Part II has always been an engaging experience, as it mixes the murder investigation at a school with a more ghostly substory involving the rumors of the Girl Standing In The Back amidst a cast of rather unique characters in an engaging manner. In comparison to the gamebook of the first game, the prose of this second volume is more enjoyable, with more text before each choice, which helps fleshing out the story. Because you keep on flipping between pages as you make choices, it's easy to lose track of the story, but this book has several moments where the story gives you a breather, and helps you organize all the facts you have collected. Like in the previous gamebook, the focus lies not on figuring out who did it on your own, but on finding all the relevant evidence yourself. A classic Challenge to the Reader gives you all the hints, and then asks of you to deduce who the murderer is. It's difficult to do justice to that in a gamebook, so while the story will make all the necessary deductions for you in this book, it's up to you to actually find all the evidence needed for those deductions. Your choices will bring you along different routes, and choosing to talk with a certain person at a certain time might result in getting your hands on a crucial piece of evidence (or actually missing out on it, as you're supposed to be doing something else).

This gamebook appears to be easier than the one based on the first book. The mechanics are slightly different, but at least this second book doesn't have red herring pieces of evidence that lead to game overs once you get your hands on them. Though this book certainly isn't easy: there are still some items you absolutely need to find if you want to complete the story and it's easy to miss them. There are also many bad endings. Being taken off the investigation because you didn't find enough evidence before a certain point in the story is one of the better bad endings. In a fair number of them, the murderer actually goes after you and the murderer is rather good at err, murdering. The first book is more challenging, but in terms of overall enjoyment as both a game and a tale, this second volume manages to win.
Go to 1.


You have gotten a good idea of what Famicom Tantei Club Part II - Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo is. Are you satisfied with this review?
Yes ⇒ Go to 6.
No ⇒ Go to 5.


The murderer suddenly appeared behind you, driving their knife inside your back. If only... you had been content with the review.... THE END.

You have decided that you've gotten all you needed out of this review.
Go to Epilogue.


You come to the conclusion that Famicom Tantei Club Part II - Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo is an enjoyable mystery gamebook that does justice to the original game. You are now also of the opinion that this should be the last review written in gamebook format. As mystery gamebooks are fun, they'll probably appear on this blog in the future again, but it'll be in a normal review format then.


Original Japanese title(s): 池田美佐 『ファミコン探偵倶楽部 Part II うしろに立つ少女』

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