A key art from Retro Mystery Club Vol. 2

Review: Retro Mystery Club – Vol.2: The Beppu Case (Nintendo Switch)

6 mins read

Once upon a time Kemco was a developer and publisher of a very wide range of games. These days it sticks to generic RPG Maker-like JRPGs designed primarily for mobile, but the company has been operating all the way back to 1984 and the NES era. Back in those days it was responsible for the console port of Shadowgate and Déjà Vu. I loved those point-and-click games so much. The Retro Mystery Club series might not be published by Kemco, but they are a marvelous homage to those vinyl adventure games, as well as the likes of Famicom Detective Club, and so on.

The newest Retro Mystery Club – Vol.2: The Beppu Case can be played by itself without needing to have played its predecessor. It offers an original story, and it’s a good one. Events start with you in control of two detectives who are hot on the heels of a suspect, who slips into another jurisdiction. Rather than let them get away, you pursue and apprehend them, which results in you getting chewed out by your superior and reassigned to a dead-end department, newly created just for you. It’s all very Beverly Hills Cop.

By almost sheer coincidence you find yourself assigned to guard duty for a special event in Beppu, one of Japan’s famous hot springs and recreation towns, but you won’t get to enjoy yourself there because things go really pear-shaped, really quickly, giving you a chance to knuckle down and earn the forgiveness of your boss.

A screenshot from Retro Mystery Club Vol.2

As you can see from the screenshots, the presentation is vintage old-school point-and-click. There’s a small window in the top left that visually represents characters and settings with a very pixel-art presentation. The lower half of the screen is dedicated to text, visual novel style, and on the right hand side of the screen are all the commands that you can undertake in any given situation.

Your job is to find the right actions to progress the narrative. You might need to search an area for clues, or question a person or present some kind of evidence. Sometimes, a first activity will lead to a second – so for example, searching an environment might show up someone to talk to, and so you need to work out the sequence of activities that will solve the riddle for you. This is more akin to a puzzle game than a genuine investigative process, as there’s only ever once correct sequence of inputs, as far as I am aware, and oftentimes it’s a matter of trial and error to brute force your way through the game’s logic.

That might not sound particularly appealing by today’s standards, but that’s exactly how these old point-and-click adventure games worked. Shadowgate was infuriating to get through because there were umpteen ways for your character to die, and usually as a consequence of choosing to do the obtuse puzzles in the wrong order. Back in those days that made puzzling your way through all the more rewarding. Retro Mystery Club Vol.2 is more forgiving, but it has the same appeal and is going to be enormously nostalgic for some people out there.

A screenshot from Retro Mystery Club Vol.2

The art is likewise gorgeous, with beautifully animated pixel art that looks very retro while having a modern approach to aesthetics and detail. Backgrounds do an incredible job of conveying an evocative series of locations, and the developers were fortunate to have manga and game artist, Kiyokazu Arai, involved on this project, because he has hit the brief perfectly with character design too.

The only downside is that the game seems to run at a breakneck speed a times. To an extent this makes sense and is in-line with how adventure games used to tell their stories, but it has the consequence that the characters are a little more dull and common then they should be and the writers could have taken a little more time with what they were doing.

The Retro Mystery Club games are as niche as niche gets. The first volume, released back in 2023, has just seven user reviews on Steam, including those from copies provided for free. There is not a single critic review listed on Metacritic. I’m surprised a second got made in that context.

A screenshot from Retro Mystery Club Vol.2

But I’m glad it did. There might be just a handful of people that this kind of experience would appeal to, but for that audience, it is enormously appealing. If you enjoyed the remakes of Famicom Detective Club that Nintendo published a few years ago, or have fond memories of stumbling your way through Shadowgate or Déjà Vu, then both this game and its predecessor are made specifically for you.

Buy the hottest games with Amazon.

By purchasing from this link, you support DDNet.
Each sale earns us a small commission.

Support 11

Matt S. is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of DDNet. He's been writing about games for over 20 years, including a book, but is perhaps best-known for being the high priest of the Church of Hatsune Miku.

Previous Story

Resurrect a decades-old university ghost story when The Bridge Curse 2: The Extrication launches for PC this May

Next Story

Liberate Ukrainian cities in Threads of War, launching for PC later this year

Latest Articles