Saturday, April 16, 2016

Invitation to Murder


"Play games only one hour a day!"  (Takahashi Meijin)

To be honest: I've done a lot of detective game reviews here, but even I had not expected to do a Game Boy game here.

Kindaichi Hajime and his childhood friend Miyuki join their junior classmate Akira in a trip to a strange hotel near the sea called the Shiomi House. Akira was sent a strange card with an illustration of someone hanging from a tree, with the text "I am waiting at the Shiomi House". She has no idea what it means, and after a little talk, Hajime and Miyuki decided to tag along. The other guests at the Shiomi House all appear to have been summoned by the same letter, despite their denying. When Superintendent Akechi by accident also appears at the hotel for a certain case, it appears the stage is set for A Murder Story and indeed, the guests are one by one murdered by an unknown killer. Is it the wanted murderer on the loose? Or a ghost? Or perhaps someone else? Hajime will have to solve the case with the help of the player in the 2000 Game Boy Color game Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo ~ 10 Nenme no Shoutaijou~ ("The Young Kindaichi Case Files ~ The Invitation for the 10th Anniversary~").

I think this might even be the very first game based on the Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo series. There have been great Kindaichi Shounen games in the past (particularly the one where you play the murderer and must outwit the young detective), but also bad ones: the most recent game in particular was horrible (the crossover with Detective Conan was fun, by the way). The Game Boy (Color) is of course a fairly limited system, but luckily, that is something that seldom really hinders adventure games, as they don't need too much graphical prowess.

Edit: I checked just to be sure, but this was not the first game. The PlayStation/Saturn games predates this one actually.

The game is at the core a novel game: you follow the story like how you'd read a novel and occasionally have to make choice (for example, whether to go to A or B, or to ask X or Y). These choices have influence on how the story will develop and determine whether you'll be able to solve the murders or not. At times, you are given the freedom to search the house or to ask the suspects questions, though this is strangely limited (you are only allowed an X amount of actions). This is probably the worst part of the game, as you can only guess where you can find evidence / important information even though you have only a limited amount of actions available. It'd be different if there was some kind of logic behind it, but for a first-time player, it's kinda hard to guess you need to speak with character X several times, instead of talking with the other characters, as there is no indication whatsoever that one action would be better than another.

Despite the annoyance mentioned above though, I have to admit that Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo ~ 10 Nenme no Shoutaijou~ is actually a very decent detective game for the system. Depending on your choices in the prologue, the story can turn into one of two completely different scenarios (with the same basic cast, but with different murders / murderers) and each of those scenarios has multiple endings, so there is a lot to do in the game. The two scenarios are decent enough as puzzle stories: you'll be looking for clues and making daring deductions that wouldn't seem out of place in the actual Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo series. Each route is short though, you'll go through them in a few hours, but the replay value is really good.

Technically, the game looks pretty good, but I guess that's only to be expected considering Banpresto developed the game, a company with much experience with sprite art. On the audio side of things, the game was slightly disappointing: the music was forgettable and the scream soundbite used several times in the game hardly sounds like a scream (the first time they used it, I thought it was a musical cue, rather than a scream).

Overall, Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo ~ 10 Nenme no Shoutaijou~ is a surprisingly well-done detective game on the Game Boy Color. It has a lot of content and the puzzle plots themselves are fairly entertaining too. It's one of those games that is well aware of the strength and the limitations of the platform, delivering an experience that feel just right for the Game Boy Color.

Original Japanese title(s): 『金田一少年の事件簿 ~10年目の招待状~』


  1. Thanks for reviewing the game; makes me want to venture beyond the Kindaichi manga! I was wondering if you might be reviewing the latest Kindachi manga story? I believe both instalments of the 'Doll Island Murder Case' are out.

    1. I'll be reviewing it, but I'm afraid only the postal services can give you an idea of when that'll be! I'm guessing it'll be late this month or early next.

  2. can you tell me who is the fictionnal detective featured at the end of Detective Conan volume 89 ?