Review – Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir

Nintendo’s Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir was originally released in Japan in 1988 for the Famicom Disk System. It was later ported to the Game Boy Advance, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS, but once again only in Japan. The game has now been completely remade from the ground up, thanks to the development team at Mages with supervision from the original team, and has been released for the Switch. This also marks the first time they have ever been released in the US, which is very exciting.

The Missing Heir Amachi

Classic amnesia set up.

In Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir, you play as a young male protagonist who is rescued after falling off a cliff by a man named Amachi. The fall has given him amnesia, but he soon learns that he works for as a junior detective for the Utsugi Detective Agency, along with a young girl named Ayumi. He discovers that he had been hired to investigate the death of Kiku Ayashiro, the wealthy matriarch of the Ayashiro family living in the Myoujin Village. Not only are the circumstances surrounding her death somewhat suspicious, but there is also a rumor believed by the townsfolk that the dead will return to life to kill anyone who attempts to steal the treasure of the Ayashiro family. Now it’s up to him to uncover the truth while trying to regain his memories.

The Missing Heir Legend

So just a small curse then?

While The Missing Heir‘s story might not be the most original, it still has some twists and turns to keep it interesting. The characters are complex and pretty well fleshed out for the most part too. Since this game is a visual novel, having deep compelling characters and a good story makes all the difference.

Being a visual novel, there isn’t an abundance of gameplay mechanics. However, unlike many traditional visual novels, especially those released during the late 80s, there is a surprising amount of player involvement due to its investigative nature. You’ll be able to talk to people, travel to various locations, search your surroundings, pick up objects of relevance, show important items to people, speculate your findings, and at times remember more about who you are. I wasn’t expecting this many gameplay options considering it’s a faithful recreation of an over thirty year old game.

The Missing Heir Investigation

Even though the actions and events are linear, investigating things are still fun.

That being said, it’s not all smooth sailing in the gameplay department. While there are a lot of options on what action you can perform, it’s not always clear what to do in certain parts. I ran into a couple bugs as well, where I couldn’t progress because specific characters weren’t reacting to what I talked to them about or what I showed them. Luckily, reloading my game worked most of the time. However, there was one instance where not even that worked. Apparently it’s been a somewhat common issue for others as well. In this case I had to fully expend every dialogue option and show everything in my inventory to one person, do the same for another villager, then go back to the first person and do it all over again before it registered. Thankfully, this was the only time this sort of bug occurred.

Dialogue Options

Sometimes you’ll have to go through every dialogue option a few times before the game registers the correct one and advances the story.

Visually, Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir is beautiful. The entire art design has been completely rebuilt from the ground up, with gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations and smooth animations. There are several locations you’ll visit throughout your investigation and each have their own distinct look. The characters designs are nicely varied as well, with no two characters looking the same.

The sound design has also had a major overhaul. The characters are fully voiced and have some wonderful vocal talent behind them. This is also crucial with selling the narrative in a visual novel. The soundtrack on the other hand, can be pretty bland at times. There are some good tracks, especially whenever the game ramps up in intensity after something sinister occurs, but most of it is just kind of there in there background. It’s not bad, just not memorable. There is a fun option that allows you to switch back and forth between the original 8-bit version and the current one, which helps to make you appreciate exactly how far this game has come since it’s first release in 1988.


There’s no denying the beauty of this game.

I’m really happy I finally got a chance to play Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir. Even though the plot isn’t anything revolutionary, the well written characters plus a few surprises were enough to keep me intrigued the whole way through. The art design is a treat to look at, with some strong voice acting to further sell the story. You can tell a lot of love and care has gone into the recreation of this over decades old game, and I for one am thrilled to have experienced it.


Graphics: 8.0

The art design has been completely redone and features beautiful hand-drawn illustrations.

Gameplay: 7.0

Being a remake of a game from 1988, the gameplay mechanics are very simplistic. However, the controls are smooth and the interaction options are intuitive.

Sound: 7.0

The voicing throughout is very well done. The soundtrack one the other hand, can be pretty bland at times. There is an option to switch back to the original 8-bit version, which is pretty fun in small doses.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Despite being a somewhat generic murder mystery plot, the storyline is still intriguing with some great dialogue from a somewhat large cast of characters. There are some issues with story progression, however.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir is available now on Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir was provided by the publisher.