39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first bought this game, but I'm happy to report that it's a great DS outing that plays like a choose-your-adventure story. The six scenarios in the game are well written, the music is catchy and sets the mood nicely, and the game features unlockables like artwork and mini-mysteries to solve. Look no further for a unique and entertaining detective game.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
The "Ace Attorney"/"Gyakuten Saiban" series is the standard for point-and-click adventure games on the Nintendo DS, and will likely remain that for a long while. However, if Aksys keeps pushing this series, mystery lovers may very well have a nice alternative to the comedic and frantic world of Capcom's flagship franchise with the hard-boiled, dead-pan tales of detective Jake Hunter.
I suppose the first thing I should tell any prospective players is this: if you love the "Ace Attorney" franchise for it's zany, over the top plots and frequent comic relief, you're not going to like this game one bit. Taking everything with a serious tone and a gritty demeanor, "Memories of the Past" is the closest the DS has to a visual novel noir. Even though some cases may come across as a bit outlandish, they always revolve around darker, more sinister sub-plots. For example, whereas Phoenix Wright or Apollo Justice would go about finding information in the most squeaky-clean way possible, Jake Hunter sidesteps that and goes straight to his gang boss informant friend. Hunter may be tracking down criminals, but he also knows how to use some of them to his advantage.
As far as the gameplay goes, it's all a relatively simple affair. Read text, point on a menu with stylus, read more text, rinse, repeat. There is no actual challenge in this game, because you cannot lose. No matter what decision you make, the narrative is always going to somehow work it's way back on track without you having to give any effort. Some players may criticize this gameplay for being too easy, but with "Memories of the Past", it's not about the gameplay; it's about the plot. There's something comforting in spending an hour or so reading through a case like you would a good novel.
The rest of the game is very well put together. Music is great, and the main title theme will probably be lodged in your head for weeks (speaking from experience here.) Graphics are pretty good for what they are (static characters in static backgrounds), and the character designs are excellent (the Japanese artist, Katsuya Terada of "Blood the Last Vampire" fame, has been the designer of characters for every entry in the series.)
However, players of the FIRST Jake Hunter game should be warned about the plot in this entry. Besides the main case and two others, the remainder of the chapters are actually "remasters" of the original cases seen in "Jake Hunter: Detective Story." For new players, this is a lot of bang for the buck, and helps provide insight into the main case; for returning fans (such as myself), it comes across as a bit of a rip-off. Granted, the rest of the cases are new to American shores, and even the remastered ones have new English scripts which flow a lot better than the slightly awkward translations which haunted the first game, but still: it would've been nice to see some of the other cases available to Japanese players.
If you like your detectives hard-boiled, and aren't too weary of games which you can't lose at, then "Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past" is some of the most fun you can have on your DS. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good mystery to last them for a nice while.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
B. M. Bennett
- Published on Amazon.com
This game is really more of an illustrated detective book. There's really no game to it as there are no consequences for incorrect choices and you just keep selecting places to go, things to look at or people to talk to. The only challenge is continuing to talk to people until you come across a WORD to put into the password area to see 'special features.' There are no 'mini-games' to be revisited upon completion.
If you like to read short 'whodunits' and figure out who the culprit is as you read along, and are satisfied with that, this just may be the NDS activity for you. I enjoy reading it as an evening wind down and trying all the different options to see if anything changes.
Characters unique to each case are not well developed, just there to move the story along. Different aspects of the 2 main characters' 'personalities' are minimally portrayed in each 'case'. Jake Hunter, fits the stereotypical noire detective: surly, chauvinistic, hard-drinking, intuitive gumshoe with a heart of gold. Yulia Marks is his long-suffering, smart, over-qualified 'Girl Friday.'
The reason I love this game is that it was given to me by a dear friend. The thoughtfulness and generousity are priceless to me, as is the friend.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
+ great character designs, artwork
+ nice dialogue, good localization
+ excellent jazzy soundtrack
+ great price
- too linear
- not very challenging
- many typos in translation
- predictable and/or nonsensical endings
Overall, the game is entertaining. The noir localization is pretty good and there is a lot of entertaining dialogue. The rapport between Hunter and his assistant, Yulia, is amusing to read/watch. Some of the text descriptions of the city are very well done. However, the translation is littered with numerous typos. I'm not a grammar nazi by any means, but in the third episode, one of the typos was so glaringly bad that I actually was not 100% sure what happened at first (I believe they meant to say "didn't" instead of "did it"). I completely expect to find a few typos in text-heavy translated games, but the number of typos in some of the episodes are actually distracting at times.
That being said, the gameplay is almost non-existent. This is very much a "book" that you play more so than even other visual novels. The game is extremely linear and you are not penalized for getting any answers incorrect. You simply try again and again until you get it right. However, the puzzles and confrontations in the game are easy to solve, so you won't be making too many mistakes. Although a few other reviews here on Amazon and elsewhere compare this game to Phoenix Wright, which is much more lighthearted, the game this reminds me the most of is Hotel Dusk: Room 215. In Hotel Dusk, the main character is also an alcoholic ex-cop detective. However, what makes that game very fun are the many different ways you can use the DS (for example, one of the "puzzles" require that you actually shut the lid of the DS closed, others require you to blow into the mic, etc.). It was also game over if you asked the wrong questions or did the wrong thing, giving you challenge and incentive to get things right. I understand that Jake Hunter is mostly a port of GBA games (like Phoenix Wright), so not every episode is going to push the boundaries, but the developers could definitely have at least provided a higher difficulty curve or created different endings, consequences for wrong answers/actions, etc.
Finally, the mysteries are fairly predictable and some of the resolutions just don't make much sense. Without spoiling anything, the developers focused so much on trying to give many of the cases neatly wrapped-up endings that two of the cases in particular conclude in strange ways, to say in the least.
I do want to say that I didn't dislike the game by any means, it just wasn't what I expected. It does have a great atmosphere, excellent artwork and soundtrack, and it is fun to play, but it is not so much of a "game" as it is a "novel." As long as you make this purchase with this expectation in mind, you shouldn't be too disappointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Feelah the tigress
- Published on Amazon.com
First things first, I need to warn anyone reading this that this game is not exactly a sequel to the original "Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles". In fact, this game includes all the cases from the original game, plus some new ones. So, it's more like a remake of the original with new content. So, if you are thinking about getting into Jake Hunter, just get this game and ignore the first one. All right, so now that the warning is out of the way, let's talk about the game itself.
Graphics (score 7/10): If you've every played an Ace Attorney game, then the graphics should look pretty familiar to you. Basically, you've got static backgrounds with character portraits over them. Unlike the Ace Attorney series though, the character portraits are not as expressive (i.e. they never seem to move). Also, I don't think they are quite as eye-pleasing as the Ace Attorney graphics. The backgrounds look fine most of the time, but occasionally, an image looks like it's a slightly blurred stock photo instead of an actual drawn background. Very strange. Other than that, there are some brief animated cutscenes that look like they have very few frames of animation - this is okay, but not fantastic. Anyway, this game is not going to win any awards in the graphics department, but that's par for the course in this genre and if you are playing an adventure game, then graphics are probably not high on your list of important things.
Music (score 8/10): There's not really a huge number of tracks, but the music changes dynamically with the situation and often enough that it doesn't feel repetitive. The music itself isn't bad at all - in fact it's pretty good for this genre, and rest assured, there is at least one track that just screams "detective"! There's no voice acting, so it's pretty much just music and a few sound effects. Not much to say other than that.
Characters (score 8/10): Your main characters are Jake Hunter himself and Yulia Marks, his assistant/secretary. Jake is pretty much your stereotypical heavy drinking, nicotine addicted, hard-boiled Private Investigator living in a seedy big city. In other words, a dream come true for fans of film noir AND adventure games. I can't say I was ever a big fan of film noir but I like Jake's character anyway. Yulia's personality stands in contrast to his since she's sweet and polite where he's gruff. She still lets her sarcasm slip through occasionally though. The dynamic between them as characters really works well in my opinion. There are of course many side characters involved in each story, and all of them are believable enough, but really the characters themselves aren't as much of a focus as the story. Unlike (once again with this example) a game like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney where you get really attached to many individual characters, the characters in this game really serve more as vehicles to move the plot forward. The only character who I can say you'll get very attached to is Jake himself. There are certain segments of the story where you play from the perspective of someone else, and it was during these segments that I realized how much I missed Jake. I guess I'd really become attached to him as a character, but compared to the Ace Attorney games, there are nearly as many memorable characters involved.
Story (score 9/10): The main difference between this game and the original release is that this one has six cases instead of just three. It also features a sort of bonus section with cases from a comic version of Jake Hunter which are more humorous in tone (more on that later). The normal cases have pretty serious stories though, and they are a good variety (in that they aren't always the exact same scenario - sometimes it's a murder, sometimes it's a missing persons case, sometimes it's theft, etc.). The cases also usually have pretty good twists and turns to keep you guessing. I must say though that the first case is probably the least interesting, but it's also the shortest. So, if you are playing this for the first time and aren't so enthused with Case 1, stick it out and see if you end up liking it better. Case 4 is where it really gets good, in my opinion (I think I actually teared up at the emotional ending). Case 5 is strangely shorter (although still interesting) than Case 4, which makes no sense. Case 6 is long again (and the story incorporates things that happened in all five previous cases). All of them are quite good though, regardless of length. Now, as promised, let's talk about that bonus section. This put me off first because it's such a radical departure from the previous section. Basically you can play these very short stories called in a section called "Jake Hunter Unleashed". They appear to have comic/cartoony style crudely drawn graphics, and is basically a parody of the main game. Yes, really - this game features an in-game parody of itself. It's that awesome. It's actually pretty funny too, since cartoon Jake says things like "I gave them a hard-boiled glare and a hard-boiled nod" which is clearly poking fun at his character and cartoon Yulia is pretty spastic and insane (which is the complete opposite of her normal mature character). All in all, it's a nice extra.
Gameplay (score 9/10): This is a bit of a catch-all category for me. Gameplay is pretty simple. You just select from various actions, such as talk, inspect, and move. You just move through the story by performing various actions. You actually have the option to play this game entirely via buttons or entirely via stylus, which is great for those that prefer one method over the other. You can also save at any time and back up dialog if you missed something. All in all, the gameplay features are pretty nifty. Now, let's talk about something that makes or breaks this game for some people: the difficulty. Many complain that the game is too easy, even going so far as to call the game a "visual novel" instead of a video game. The game actually doesn't allow you to get a game over screen; if you choose the wrong action, Jake just says something like "sorry, I got that wrong" and let's you try again. Some people think this is bad because it ruins the challenge, but I liked it. It saves you time since if you got a game over, you'd only be forced to sit through a bunch of dialogue again anyway, and now you don't have to. It's not that I'd want every game to be like this (I do enjoy challenge sometimes), but after playing a slew of more challenging games, this game could be a welcome bit of relaxation. I do have to mention that while it's still pretty low on failure punishment, it does get more challenging once you hit Case 4. There are points where you must select the correct evidence options to continue the game and prove someone's guilt in the process. Figuring out the culprit from the clues can get challenging, but it's still a rather forgivingly easy game. Well, I guess whether the easiness bothers you or not is entirely up to personal preference. I must mention though, that the Jake Hunter Unleashed section plays quite differently than the regular game. These are basically short stories (maybe only ten minutes long) that end in you having to deduce the culprit of the crime. If you make a single mistake in your deduction, you'll get a game over and have to start over again, regardless of whether or not you saved in the middle of the deduction. This makes the Jake Hunter Unleashed games actually a lot harder than the regular game. Now what else to talk about... Well, something useful for people who bought the original game is that you are allowed to play the cases in any order you want. So, if you already played cases 1 - 3 you can just skip to case 4. Of course, for the most story coherency, it's probably best to go in order, but if you choose not to don't fear - the dialog briefly introduces previous characters for anyone who's skipping around. Lastly, there are a number of hidden passwords in the game which unlock various goodies like extra Jake Hunter Unleashed episodes, concept art, extra character profiles, an interview with the development team, etc. Anyway, that's a nice extra.
Overall (score 9/10): NOTE this score is not an average; it's my subjective overall score. Well, I feel like this game is really close to being perfect, at least in terms of enjoyability. If the characters had been a bit more memorable, I probably would've given this game a full 10/10. As it is, it's a very nice relaxing game and a solid entry in the adventure game library on the DS. If you are a fan of adventure games, pick this one up!