Detective Conan: Mirage of Reminisence
On the whole, the first year of third-party Wii offerings has been massively disappointing. It’s understandable, of course, because developers around the world are still trying to figure out how best to approach Wii game design. Just as it took a good year or two for developers to really push the DS in interesting ways, it seems that a similar settling-in period is needed before any truly great third-party Wii games appear. But we’re confident that those games will eventually come through (our hopes are pegged on titles such as No More Heroes, Zack & Wiki, and Soul Calibur Legends).
Detective Conan: Mirage Of Reminiscence, though – in spite of its almost poetic title – is just one of many rotten first-generation Wii games to have been released by third-party outfits. It feels cheap and tacky, and it looks even worse. The game begins as it means to go on, serving up a horrid FMV introduction (see ‘FMV Nightmare’) which then makes way for a further narrative sequence that uses the in-game engine – and the game engine has all the finesse of a mediocre N64 title. It’s almost painful to look at, and the situation isn’t improved by the fact that Detective Conan only supports a 480i display resolution (no progressive scan here). Seriously, this couldn’t even pass for a GameCube game.
Anyway, we’ll stop pummelling Mirage Of Reminiscence’s technical shoddiness (for a moment) to explain briefly what the game is about: it’s a mystery, and not in the sense that we don’t know what it’s about. It is a genuine mystery adventure game, and that might sound quite appealing in a sleuthy Broken Sword kind of way, but believe us – there’s nothing appealing about it.
The story is a patchwork of comedy and disaster, spanning four brief scenarios. Some shady characters have messed with the car brakes of an important figure they want dead, and Conan takes a family trip to the grand opening of a new entertainment complex. When anything suspicious happens – Conan spots a lady arguing with a stranger during the opening party, and later he sees her being harassed by the same chap – it’s time to walk around and talk with people to glean information that can be used to form a complete picture of what’s just taken place.
And so it goes on, with Conan using his magnifying glass to inspect the area for clues (which is where the Wii Remote comes into play, pointlessly facilitating first-person control of the magnifying glass) and working out the personal relationships that nonplayable characters have, and what those relationships might mean in light of any crime that has just occurred. The process is only interrupted by trivia and throwaway bonuses: a skateboard that Conan can ride about for laughs (the way it turns feels horrible, though, and you’ll end up ricocheting from wall to wall like a complete novice) and – here we go – mini-games!
Yes, mini-games: the sure-fire way for any third-party developer to include oh-so-novel Wii Remote controls in its Wii game. Unfortunately, Detective Conan’s collection of seven mini-games are among the worst yet to appear on the Wii. For instance, the version of whack-a-mole here is an absolute joke – you have a twee on-screen hammer cursor, with which you have to whack moles (obviously) as they emerge from four tunnels, but the hammer doesn’t move precisely where you point the Wii Remote. After a couple of tries (and inevitable failures), an on-screen message appears: “Try moving the Wii Remote with more force.” And then, upon waving the Wii Remote vigorously in random directions, you realise that it’s been programmed only to respond to powerful shakes.
There’s a token alien shooting game that delivers a limited lightgun-style experience, but it fizzles out after a couple of minutes – and it too suffers from suspect Wii Remote calibration, resulting in the nagging feeling that your Wii Remote is being dragged through a sea of treacle: this is what it’s come to.