Ever since iconic American writer Edgar Allan Poe penned the C. Auguste Dupin trilogy, the mystery genre has been one of the most popular genres in books, movies, shows, and other forms of media. Beloved titles like Danganronpa, As Lawyer, and The black proving that this popularity even extends to video games.
With the Nintendo DS being the second best-selling console ever made according to Nintendo’s sales figures, it’s no surprise that the DS has plenty of mystery titles to satisfy this large audience. Some of these titles, like Touch Detectivestand out among the rest.
Written by Junko Kawano, who also created the time travel adventure game Shadow of Memories, Time Hollow is a 2007 visual novel adventure game that also focuses on time travel. On his 17th birthday, the main character, Ethan Kairos, wakes up in an alternate timeline where his parents disappeared 12 years ago. After obtaining a family heirloom called “Hollow Pen”, he is able to use the pen to open portals through time.
Using these new abilities, Ethan must solve the mystery behind his parents’ disappearance and protect his friends from certain dangerous events that begin to occur. Although the plot of the game is extremely similar to YU-NO: a girl who sings of love at the limits of this world and the characters are mostly just typical anime archetypes, the no-frills writing and interesting mystery make the experience worth playing.
Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past
Even if the Auntie Jingūji Saburō or jack hunter is popular in Japan, it is relatively obscure internationally as most of the titles have remained exclusive to Japan. Beginning in 1987 on the Famicom Disk System, the series finally came to North America in 2008 with the title DS Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles. But, poor localization and cut content led Aksys Games to release a fixed version the following year titled Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past.
Like novels like The Maltese Falcon and The big sleep This tough detective series follows middle-aged private eye Jake Hunter as he solves gruesome cases. This installment contains six boxes, including the first five mobile game boxes and an original box designed exclusively for the DS.
Flower, sun and rain
Created by famous video game director Goichi Suda, Flower, sun and rain is an obscure adventure game that was originally released only in Japan for the PS2 in 2001. Later, the game was finally released internationally when it was ported to the DS in 2008. Set on the Island of Lospass, the game follows Sumio Mondo who is a “Seeker”, meaning someone who makes a living by finding things that people have lost.
Although he was hired by the manager of the “Flower, Sun, and Rain” hotel to defuse a bomb, he is distracted by the other inhabitants of the island and the bomb explodes. Now he’s stuck in a time loop and has to solve various puzzles across the island, help the locals, and stop the bomb.
Released in 2006, Touch Detective is a point-and-click adventure game that has Tim Burton’s art style and hilarious dialogue. After the death of her father, who was a detective, the main character, a young girl named Mackenzie, also tries to become a detective. With the help of her family’s multi-hundred-year-old butler, Cromwell, she must solve four cases in order to be accepted into the Great Detective Society.
To solve cases in this unique fantasy world, the player must touch all the objects in the rooms, and Mackenzie will record them in his “Touch List”. In 2007, the game received a sequel titled Touch Detective 2 ½. Although there were other installments, they were all Japan-only.
Another code: two memories
Known as Trace memory in North America, Another code: two memories is a dark and beautifully crafted point-and-click adventure title from 2005. Created by Japanese indie game developer Cing, the game follows a 13-year-old girl named Ashley Mizuki Robbins who decides to visit Blood Edward Island in order to find her dad. After befriending a ghost boy named “D”, the two work together to explore the island, solve puzzles, and uncover the truth behind their past.
Depending on how investigated the player is or if they are on a new game plus a save, they will receive one of many different endings. In 2009, a sequel titled Another Code:R – A Journey Through Lost Memories was released on Wii.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215
Another mystery game created by Cing and possibly one of the best visual novels ever made is Hotel Dusk: Room 215. Released in 2007, this point-and-click adventure title follows former NYPD detective Kyle Hyde as he visits a run-down motel called “Hotel Dusk” to search for his former partner, Brian Bradley.
After checking into room 215, which is said to grant wishes, Hyde discovers that the motel holds the secrets to several mysteries from his and Bradley’s past. Depending on the player’s actions, he will get different endings. As well as having a 2010 sequel titled Last window: The Secret of Cape West, Cing also created another separate mystery game titled Once again: interactive crime novel which shares many gameplay similarities.
Ghost Trick: Ghost Detective
Directed by Shu Takumi, who also created the ace lawyer series, Ghost Trick: Ghost Detective is a 2010 cult classic adventure game where the player controls a ghost named Sissel. Using the power of “Ghost Tricks”, Sissel can move objects and time travel four minutes before a person dies.
Along with a young detective named Lynne, Sissel must use her powers to prevent people from dying and uncover the mystery of her own death before dawn. Over time, they discover that another ghost can also use their powers to manipulate events.
Nine hours, nine people, nine doors
Released in 2009, Nine hours, nine people, nine doors is a room-escape visual adventure game and the first installment of the zero escape trilogy. The game follows a student named Junpei who is abducted along with eight other people by a mysterious person named Zero. While trapped on a cruise ship, Junpei and the others are forced to play a deadly game called the “Nonary Game”.
If participants break the rules or are unable to beat the game before nine o’clock, they will die. Depending on the player’s choices, they will get one of six different endings, and the true ending requires the player to experiment with the different routes.
Apollo Justice: Ace Lawyer
After creating the original ace lawyer trilogy on the GBA, the last main franchise title that Shu Takumi worked on was Apollo Justice: Ace lawyer, which is one of the best games on DS. Released in 2007, this visual novel legal drama adventure game follows rookie attorney Apollo Justice as he tries to solve cases and defend clients in court with the help of Phoenix Wright’s adopted daughter, Trucy. Wright.
Like Phoenix and later Athena Cykes, Apollo has a special ability he can use to help solve cases, which is called the “Perception System”. This ability allows Apollo to notice when people make small nervous movements. As the game continues, it’s slowly revealed that it’s all connected to the case from seven years ago that led to Phoenix losing his badge.
With the Inazuma Eleven, Ni no Kuni, and Yo-kai Watch franchise, Professor Layton is one of the most popular franchises from Japanese video game developer Level-5. Beginning on the DS, this series of puzzle adventures has had several sequels, prequels and spin-offs on the DS and other consoles. Since Professor Layton was inspired by As a lawyer, the two franchises even had a crossover on the 3DS in 2014.
Although the games focus on different settings and characters, they often focus on homeroom teacher Hershel Layton and his apprentice Luke Triton. To progress in the mystery, players must solve a minimum of puzzles during the experience.
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